First Impressions of Riga

IMG_0091Hi, I’m Deena. I live in Latvia.

I live in Latvia!

Saying that- even thinking it- is going to take a while to sink in. But after our first twenty-four hours in Riga, I’m pretty sure I’ll get used to it soon enough. We have found ourselves in a stunning city where centuries-old architecture and German-influenced facades stand tall along cobble-stoned streets and the edge of the Daugava River. A former Soviet Union republic, Latvia is a small country with great beauty, as evidenced by its capital city of around 700,000 people.

M., Frieda, and I arrived in beautiful Riga yesterday afternoon. We were greeted with sunny skies, cool temperatures, and our very kind and friendly social sponsor, K. Our journey was long, and although we were more than a little worried about how our Frieda would handle the flight, our travels were about as smooth as could be, and Frieda was well taken care of by Lufthansa’s excellent pet-friendly team. We were able to see her being loaded on to our connecting flight to Riga during our layover in Frankfurt, Germany. She arrived on the conveyor belt in Riga in her little house (our affectionate name for her crate) just as we arrived at baggage claim. All wiggles, she seemed to have tolerated the journey well.

Shortly after we checked in to the hotel where we will be staying for a few weeks until our permanent housing is ready, we went for a walk along the Daugava River to get some fresh air and stretch our legs.

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View of Old Riga from the west bank of the Daugava River.

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View of Old Riga from the west bank of the Daugava River.

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We already found some good running spots! Here, the Latvian (red and white) and Riga Coat of Arms (blue and white, in the middle) flags blow in the wind along one of them.

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M. and Frieda along the west bank of the Daugava River during our first walk in Riga.

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A panoramic view of the Daugava River and Old Riga from our hotel room.

Following our walk, we took a short nap and then met K. again for a walk around Old Riga and dinner. We meandered through Old Riga’s narrow, cobblestone streets as K. helped orient us to our new home city. Old Riga on our first Friday night in spring was a mix of artists selling their hand-made goods, a band of young men performing classic 80s rock music, people of all ages dining outside for the first time since last summer, and a group of Hare Krishnas dancing through the street… a little bit of everything.

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Built in the 14th century, the House of the Blackheads was originally a guild for Riga’s unmarried German merchants. Today, it is the residence of Latvia’s president.

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Town Hall Square, Old Riga.

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One of Old Riga’s many squares, with St. Peter’s Church standing tall in the background.

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St. Mary’s Dome Cathedral. During Soviet times, this building operated as a disco. Currently, it is under restorative construction.

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Our first Latvian sunset! I took this photo at around 9:15 pm.

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Weary but happy travelers and Riga’s newest residents.

We managed to stay awake until about 10:00 pm, and following a good night’s rest, were ready for our first run in Riga and a day of exploring. Our run took us along the west side of the river and through the quiet streets of the neighborhood where we will be living in a few weeks. Seeing our future home in person made us very excited!

After our run, we met K. and his wife, H. (who writes a wonderful travel blog with hundreds of gorgeous photos), for a walk through one of Riga’s markets. As we walked, we heard a fairly even mix of Latvian and Russian being spoken around us. So far, everyone whom we’ve encountered has been warm and friendly, and many people seem to know at least some English. Even Frieda came out with us and enjoyed sniffing around her new surroundings.

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Good morning Riga!

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According to everyone we’ve met so far, we arrived in Riga at just the right time for glorious blue skies and warmer temperatures.

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We wandered through this flea market, called Spikeri, for a while, perusing the various items for sale and meeting several other embassy folks. M. had a chance to practice his Russian with one of the vendors.

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Food trucks and gluten-free eating are present even in Riga.

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Some of Riga’s old buildings near the Spikeri house art galleries and restaurants.

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A typical street in Old Riga.

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Spring in Old Riga.

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Many people were out and about enjoying Riga’s first warm weekend of the year.

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Old Riga architecture.

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We enjoyed lunch at an outdoor cafe over glasses of Valmiermuiza, one several Latvian beers.

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St. Peter’s Church is a parish of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia.

Our first full day in Riga has left us feeling full of wonder and gratitude to be here. I can’t wait to get to know this city and its people more each day as it begins to feel like more like home and less like a short-lived vacation, because now… I live in Latvia!

Thank you for reading!

5 thoughts on “First Impressions of Riga

  1. You’ve gotten some great photos already! I love the one of the Latvian flags flying in front of the bridge. And I also appreciate the blog mention! 🙂

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