A day in Riga

Trip Start Mar 14, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Latvia  ,
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

As today is our only day here in Riga, due to our on going problem with our Russian visa, we decided to get up early and see the city or what we could in the 10 hours we have.

But first things first, Train tickets to St Petersburg. Shona waited patiently at the first window and said “Hi.” She was ignored for several minutes before the lady looked up, rolled her eyes and stabbed a finger to the next booth down. Oh how nice of her to help out. Maybe next time she should have a sign to say she isn't open. So we went to the next window and was told something about '2' and '4'. We went to booth 2 and after a blank sour faced look were told '24'. Ahhhh. 'around the corner' At booth 24 the lady spoke English and was very efficient, we liked her.

Tickets in hand we headed around the corner to the central markets. Amazingly they are housed in the old Zeppelin hangers. 5 giant domes each housing different produce. Fresh fruit and Veg, Meat, Fish and just general stuff. Just the scale of the market and the old hangers are worth a visit.

The afternoon was spent at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. A dark account of both the Soviet and Nazi occupation.

With still a couple of hours to kill we went in search of Riga Castle. Well what a let down. We don't even know why it is called a castle. You can't even get in. Disappointed we headed back along the frozen, white, snowy river to our hostel, but before long we spotted a path through the snow on the river with locals leading the way. How could we resist and we soon joined them.

Later that night we said our goodbyes to Stephen and went to catch our 19.30 train. We couldn't read our carriage number but knew we had seats, so we walked up and down looking but we could only see sleeper carriages. It didn't take long for us to ask and get told, 'carriage 11.' Well we had been past carriage 11 and it defiantly was not a seater carriage. We hoped on and we where in for a shock, straight away we knew it would be a long night. There were no seats just a bench with only an inch of foam over the steal frame. The back rest was the unpadded wall, and our window was held shut with duck tape. Now we know why our tickets were so cheap, at the time we thought we had scored a bargain. Now we wished we had spent the few more bucks and got booked a compartment. As our arses began to numb we realised we were in 3rd class.

We were dreading every minute of it. However after a couple of hours and a couple of stops, half the people got off, bed started unfolding from God knows where, people went to rent out blankets and get some hot water for a cup of tea and we realised this wasn't going to be such a bad night after all.

Only the boarder crossing to go.
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