We left for Riga early in the morning. Now, Riga was only heard of because Montreal and Riga are the most expensive properties on my Monopoly board and we all work hard to own them. Yes, I do play Monopoly. So, we left Minsk that morning and were on our way, on an eight hours drive, to Riga. The ride was a comfortable one.
On the way, we took a little more than two and a half hours to complete the border control formalities at Lithuania. We were to take a detour and have lunch in Vilnius but, alas, due to time constraints, we could only use the loo on the highway and get back in the bus. The driver was adamant about reaching Riga on time, so he could be relieved from his duty, so, we got an ice-cream from the cafe stationed there and were on our way. We were still craving for the cold and stiff Russian ice-creams that we got used to.
Once we reached Riga, the tour guide took us around the city to show us the beautiful place they lived in. It was an amazing experience to see the whole of Riga in twenty minutes flat. What was even more appealing, to the guys, was the pretty girl we had as our tour guide. Several photographs later, they found out she was engaged to be married soon. Haha!
When walking around the town at night, the streets of Riga reminded me of an area in Bombay called Byculla. Not sure how many of you have been there but the old narrow cobbled streets and the wooden buildings nudging each other, looked very nostalgic. The only difference was that because of the filth, I dread stepping into Byculla and here I was roaming the streets with two children (one was in the pram). I cannot even think of roaming with kids in a pram, in Mumbai or Bangalore. I could sit on the streets of Riga without a care in the world but even standing straight on the streets, seems to be a challenge, anywhere in India. Things are changing though!
The streets were filled with the young and old and it was soothing to the ear with classics playing all around us. The random restaurant we stopped in for dinner had a tomato cream soup which everyone relished. I have never had a tomato soup that was so right and delicious. The rest of the food was awesome and the service was terrific too. How? Well, our server’s name was Cindy, maybe that’s why. 😉
The morning tour included the same places we walked through the night before but with some information about it, by the tour guide. The external architecture of the St. Peter’s Church was enthralling. It was rebuilt thrice. I stood there and looked at it for a long time wondering how many people and how many years would it have taken to make the Church. Of course, Google can answer my questions but standing there and watching it allowed me to visualize the commendable work done by the artisans back then. I felt like the carved statues, the fancy doors, the structured pillars and the copper steeples were all exuding their age old blessings upon me.
Water is expensive all over Europe and people think twice before using water to wash their genitals. I managed using the glasses they provided in the hotel bathrooms without which we Indians would have had a tough time holidaying in Europe. Or probably I’m not used to it yet!
After visiting the old town of Riga, we were on our way to Tallinn, Estonia. The journey was enjoyable and we reached in no time. Our main event, because of which we had combined our holiday, took up most of our time there so we missed the city tour and touristic places because we were busy getting ready or catching up on some sleep. All we visited was the Estonian Maritime Museum which had a massive submarine kept there for viewing.
Besides that, we visited the Old Tallinn city almost every morning as we stayed at the Tallink City Hotel which was a five-minute-walk, through the Viru Keskus Mall. On the first day, we ate at a restaurant with a very rude butler so decided not to step in again though the food was good. The next day, we found Olde Hansa. It not only gave us a Medieval times experience but the food was delectable and mouth-watering too. We enjoyed the mushroom soup so much that my hubby decided to try and replicate it once we are back home. The various meats available were so carefully cooked that even my thirteen month old son kept relishing it. He did sleep well that night.
Yes, I have to come here again because touristic places are plenty and I have seen only one. I’m thinking of visiting this place for a week at least. Getting to know the culture and the lifestyle, of people in small towns like these, is always exciting, don’t you think? Have you ever been to Estonia? Tell us about the best restaurants you’ve dined in there.