Day 5: 23.05.08
Sax and the City/Kvass going on here then?
Despite my introduction to Riga Black Balsams last night, I had a good quality sleep which is saying something as I've been at war with a disagreeable pillow all week. "Nyhetsmorgon" is talking about how Charlotte Perrelli is going to win Eurovision. Yeah, yeah, well....they didn't know what was going to happen did they? Radio Skonto provides a retro-cheesy alternative this morning, I have usually either listened to Radio SWH (Ess-Vay-HAAAAA! I love that jingle!) or European Hit Radio, which much to my delight has played M Pokora's "Dangerous" and Danny & Therese's "If Only You" all week.
Riga is, as ever, bathed in clear blue skies and sunlight, but that constant little breeze is never far away. I think it should be nicknamed "The Windy City" if Chicago hadn't already thought of that. Decide that today is even warmer than Wednesday. One thing I've noticed over the week is that almost all of the buskers are saxophonists playing "The Pink Panther" although many of their renditions are decidedly off-colour.
Normally on the last day of our holiday we'd be speeding off at a ridiculously early hour to the airport for a ridiculously early flight home, but not this time as good old Ryanair was taking us home in the evening, for a change. Which gave us a chance to explore Riga one last time. When I go on holiday I turn into an architecture fanatic so the Art Nouveau district was a must-see. I took pictures of two well-known buildings: the Chinese embassy and the distinctive Eisenstein-designed blue and white building at 10b (unfortunately I couldn't fit the whole building in from where I was standing). Note: I haven't been able to upload my pictures due to some internal-error-thing but hope to fix that soon.
Everything in this area appears more affluent: the people, the buildings, the restaurants. The city oozes style, class and sophistication anyway but in this area it's even more apparent. Have decided to reinvent myself as a Riga girl: I'm going to grow my hair long, dye it blonde, lose two stones and learn to walk in high heels over those cobbled streets. Well I think I can manage the hair, but that's all.....!
So it's back to the Old Town for our final meal of the holiday, and we return to the Italian restaurant we visited on our first night. Faithful travelling companion, obsessed with all things Russian at the moment, has developed a taste for kvass, a sweet, treacly soft drink although I didn't really share his enthusiasm and will stick to diet cola!
There is a lovely little canal and surrounding park, a calm little oasis near the Laima clock and Freedom Monument, where we spend some time before heading back to the hotel to collect our luggage and making our way to the airport for our evening flight home.
All in all, a rather fab holiday. Just make sure that you take plenty of spending money with you - and beware of those mobile roaming rates! The verdict: Riga is a lovely, compact and rewarding little city which we're glad we visited and would recommend it as one of the best short break destinations in Europe.
Next stop....Nice! Yes we've booked our flights for our return to the Riviera in September. The countdown starts here....