Baltics. Latvia. Old Riga. | CruiseBe
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Baltics. Latvia. Old Riga.

Sergey Dolya • 6 minutes read • April 21st, 2016
My long November weekend I decided to dedicate to acquaintance with the Baltic states, and the first country I chose was Latvia.

To my shame, since high school I couldn't tell Latvia from Lithuania. But now I know that Latvia is a country "in the middle", that is between Lithuania and Estonia. I associate this country with Jurmala, Laima Vaikule, sprats, and Riga Balsam. The first day I spent exploring

Old Riga

. Together with a guide I made a two-hour walking tour through the Old Town. And today I want to tell you about it.
The plane from Moscow arrives at 8 am, with the first rays of the sun. Our little Airbus 319 was driven right up to the jet bridge of the terminal. But we came down the stairs to the airfield. I was first to step off the plane and I was surprised not to see the bus. Local employee waved his hand towards the open door at the airport and sent us to the journey there on foot. In my years of flying experience, this was the first time when I walked through the field of the international airport from the aircraft on foot. It was fun.
I was in the hotel in 20 minutes. The balcony offered a beautiful view of Old Riga. Downstairs local fishermen were catching fish. I could not resist and went to look at that:

They catch small roach on crackers and wheat cream:

The Old Town was in a 5-minute walk from our hotel. We only had to cross the Daugava River:

In the morning I was lucky with the weather and the sun licked cones of Riga towers:

I met my guide on the square in front of the

House of the Blackheads

- the main building of the famous brotherhood of unmarried merchants who chose Saint Mauritius as their patron. The coat of arms of their brotherhood has the Afro-American head in honor of this Saint:

A little further from the square there is the tower of the

Saint Peter Cathedral

that used to be the tallest building in Riga until recently:

You can get there by elevator and enjoy the panoramic view of Riga:

Behind the cathedral there is a monument to The Bremen Town Musicians: donkey, cat, dog and cock. A story that touch of the monument will bring you good luck was invented for tourists:

Therefore the donkey's face is always polished to a shine. The tourists are not able to reach other small animals:

In ancient times, when there was no electricity, and windows cost a lot of money, "a tax on windows" was introduced in Riga - the more windows the person has, the richer he is, the more tax is taken from him. Therefore, a lot of windows in the Old Town are just painted:

Many things in Riga are connected with Riga Black Balsam. It was invented specially for Catherine II, and it includes 24 ingredients. It can be found in many cafes:

By the way, all the cafes are called:

There are many picturesque small patios:

I'll show you the rest of the main attractions of the Old Town. Three Brothers - three medieval houses, stuck to each other:

And here you can see the Swedish Gate. The owner of the house was tired of paying customs feed for the importation of goods into the Old Town and he cut through his own gate in the town. It is the only gate that has survived till our days:

This is the Powder Tower - the only watchtower that has survived. There used to be 28 of them:

And here pay attention to the stairs on the right. The owner of this house disclaimed walking on foot and always moved on horses, so the staircase of his house ends at the level of the seat:

Here is the Dome Cathedral - one of the largest organs in the world is situated in it. Franz Liszt wrote his works specially for it:

Generally, the size of the Old Town is very small. It can be crossed in 10 minutes. Streets are curved and paved with orthopedic cobblestones:

If you do not like to walk, you can explore the city on a tour limo:

After exploring the city, we went to the local Riga Market. It is the largest market in Europe.

The market is located near the train station. Stall selling audio cassettes stands at its entrance, and Russian rogue chanson husks from the speakers:

We had dinner below stairs, in a stylized antique restaurant:

Coming oun after dinner on the square in front of the House of the Blackheads, we found that it was all cordoned off by police. At that point, there dined the presidents of Georgia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and other "friends" of Russia. 

Tomorrow morning I'll take the car and leave for the day to Sigulda - resort place popular among the inhabitants of Riga.
Author: Sergeydolya
Translated by: Olesya Zhukova

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