Rainy Riga. The weather finally caught up with us in Riga. It’s been cold, windy, and intermittent rain pretty much every day here. When the black clouds part, the blue sky and sunlight are beautiful for a couple of minutes until the next black cloud covers them up again. However we spent our time doing exactly the same things we would have done if the weather were better, we were just cold.
We stayed at the Dome Hotel, right off cathedral square. Cool old building renovated with modern amenities, a good breakfast, and very helpful staff. Our room was large, the bed comfortable, and included a Nespresso machine (we found Nespresso in many of the rooms we had, either that or Nescafe and hot water pot). However something that set this stay apart from others was access to the hotel’s hammam in the spa and sauna on the top floor. We took advantage of both by reserving the hammam for two hours one day then the sauna for two hours on the following day. Not that we’re particularly weather wimps but the heat sure felt good as we recovered from the hard work of touristing in the cold rain. The staff were very helpful with our questions about Latvia and recommendations for things to do and places to eat (they all spoke English well).
in front of the Dome Hotel
On the recommendation of our hotel we had dinner at the 3 Chefs Restaurant our first night. It was excellent. The starter was a drizzling of various bread dips on a large sheet of parchment paper on our table and a basket of dark bread. There were about 8 different dips including pesto, sea buckthorn, strawberry, and hemp. We had very well prepared meals there and ended up going back for our final dinner in Riga. Our favorite was the black quinoa with trumpet mushrooms and vegetables. We are by no means vegetarians but that dish was an amazing complete meal. Another dinner was at the Czech beer hall, Stargorod, that I had read about in the In Your Pocket Riga guide. The food and beer were okay. We shared a flight of five beers to start then a dark beer with dinner. We had goulash and pork knuckle (typical beer hall fare). The portions were large but we weren’t impressed with the quality. Stargorod’s big selling point is their all you can drink beer for 7 Euros so we probably shouldn’t have expected much from the food.
We visited the site of the old Jewish synagogue and memorial in Riga. As in so many other places in Europe the synagogue was destroyed and the Jews eliminated, just for being Jewish. Reflecting on their plight throughout history and especially during World War 2 always makes us wonder how the Nazis and others committed those atrocities. But there are also examples of people taking the right and honorable actions in those circumstances that give us pause to think how they could find the courage – the best and the worst of mankind. We also attended an organ and saxophone concert in the cathedral one evening. The music was contemporary (avant garde) and rather boring but it was worth it just to hear the organ in that setting. The market in Riga is unique – it’s spread across four old zeppelin hangars from the early 20th century with meat in one, seafood in another, produce in another. The hangars are massive so it was cool just checking them out. All in all we enjoyed our time walking around Riga despite the rain, wind, and cold (the hotel staff claimed the weather was ‘refreshing’). Off to Lithuania next to visit the ancestral homeland.