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 it. Yes, I do play Monopoly. So, we left Minsk late that morning and were on our way, on an eight hours drive, to Riga. Most of us did not know what we were supposed to do there and neither did we know the touristic places to visit so we followed the tour leader faithfully.
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 into Lithuania 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-cream.
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.
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, of which 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.
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. It was 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 place we had visited 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 did it take to make the Church. The carved statues, the fancy doors, the pillars, the structure and the copper roofed steeple were all exuding their age old blessings upon me. 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.
Water is expensive all over Europe and people think twice before using water to wash their genitals. Well, that’s no excuse to not have even a tap for use, if required. A tumbler, in India, is a multi-purpose commodity. It is used to drink with, measure rice and lentils, throw on someone or in the lavatory to transfer water from the wash basin to the commode. I managed to stay clean using the glasses they provide in the bathrooms. If not for the life-saving glasses kept in the hotel rooms, we Indians would have had a tough time holidaying in Europe.
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 and the Old city of Tallinn. The museum had a massive submarine kept there for viewing. Besides that, we visited the Old city almost every morning. Yes, I have to come here again because touristic places are plenty and I have seen only one.