We stayed in Riga for two days but not by choice. The first day we had an hour of sunshine before the weather turned and another storm arrived. It was so bad we were confined to our motorhome as the wind rocked us and the rain pelted us. Mac n Tosh drove each other mad and likewise, we drove each other mad too. Like 4 cooped up chickens pecking each others head.
In the hour of sunshine, Craig managed to wash Vin and remove half of the Latvian roads that were stuck to the underside and wheel arches. He also did the chains on the Bromptons as well as make the bed doofer. The doofer, basically a block of wood covered in carpet and stuck to the side of the front bed. It stops the bed from swinging and squeaking but still enough flex to allow a little movement with the carpet absorbing any impact.
Cooped like chickens, the rainy skies of northern Europe made us us long for sunshine. It is mid summer and all we want to do is to walk down a street without a raincoat strapped to our back. We long to open the motorhome door and to sit outside with a nice cool drink and to feel the sun on out face. Nothing too hot just simple summer sunshine.
On the second day, an unexpected break in the weather, so we chucked the dogs in the Brompton bike baskets and set off to Riga centre. The back streets were completely water logged and we cycled through a constant stream of muddy puddles. As we cycled over the bridge, the rain started again and by the time we reached the city centre we were soaked. Mac n Tosh didn’t seemed bothered in the slightest, wrapped in a fluffy blanket and tucked under a highly effective rain protector, an Asda plastic bag. The fit for life bag ripped in half kept the dogs nice and dry, and when the sun came out for 5 minutes they had a boil in the bag moment too.
We started on the outside of the city and like a mosquito coil, we slowly wound in to the centre. First, stop for breakfast at a little bakers. So many goodies to choose from it took a while to narrow it down to a selection of 4 fat building buns and cakes between us. As we ventured out, the wind and rain started again. The streets were still deserted, apart from the handful of lost tourists clinging on to their umbrellas. The wind was playing havoc, street lights flickered and swayed, and waste bin contents shot across the streets. But who cares, life is good and we are here to enjoying it.
We cycled to a suburb way beyond the city because Craig liked the look of a building (Zinatnu). We passed lots of nondescript residential concrete blocks somewhere at the back of the railway lines. It was the sort of route you would follow if you were trying to get mugged. It wouldn’t have altogether surprised me if someone had jumped out and robbed our Asda bags. Eventually we reached the building, paused, took a photo and cycled back.
We cycled back through one of the largest markets we’ve seen in a long time. It was massive with at least 500 stalls spread in a very random way. Some stalls inside, some out, some behind a walled area and some under ground. All hectic in order and pace, which brings me on to the drivers. I’ve mentioned the fact that Latvian drivers are bonkers well picture this..we tried to cross a triple road with no pelican crossing. Every time we put our foot off the curb a car would charge passed at 100 mile an hour. Closely followed by a convoy of equally mad speed freaks. I felt like I was gonna become road kill for a lucky city pigeon. We waited, and waited and waited. Eventually, we spotted a break, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and made a mad dash for it. It was a close shave but looks like the pigeons on pasty scraps.
Despite the weather Riga was a fascinating place. Not everything was perfect in fact most of the city was far from perfect but it had character. The historical core with its web of cobbled lanes and small squares has plenty to look at. Much of the architecture in the old city centre was interesting with a whole variety of styles. From warehouse feel brick buildings, cathedrals and renaissance buildings. Dotted all around the city hip and trendy bars and cafes but non captured the attention of Mac n Tosh like the water fountain outside the House of the Blackheads.
After bobbling around cobbled streets on our Bromptons we cycled back down to the park area just before we crossed the bridge to the campsite. Stopping midway to let the dogs have a bit of a run whilst we stopped and looked back to appreciate the city. As we stood there a raindrop plopped on my head and then another and another. We looked up to see a swirl of grey clouds rolling above our head. Within seconds the sky was black and the rain was in a sudden free fall, here it comes again. We darted home and in desperate need of a mangle.
Our Bumble Verdict: a working city full of charcter and definately one for a long weekend.
Our sleepy spot: day 2 on Riverside Camping
Paid Camping GPS position N056.965159 E024.081890