The overnight bus ride to Riga was a journey that was without trouble, though not without interruption. In the middle of the night, we were stopped and woken up so that we could go through immigration in order to leave Russia. We had to collect our bags, and then go and present our passports and departure cards to some predictably stern and unkind immigration officers. Once this was out of the way, we were once again on our way to Riga. I slept for the remainder of the bus journey, and woke shortly before we arrived in Riga. The hostel where I was staying was less than five minutes’ walk from the bus station, so I found it quickly and easily. I checked in, but my room wasn’t ready for me yet. As this was the case, I was happy to put my bag in storage and go exploring around the city, but before I had the chance to depart, I started talking with a guy named Adam, who was staying at the hostel. He asked if I would be interested in going bob sledding. As the weather was improving dramatically by the day, this was going to be one of the last days that this would be available. I asked him a little about it, and he described it as “an adventure sport, up there with paragliding, skydiving…” “I’m in,” I replied, before he could finish. He had me at adventure sport. The trip was due to depart a couple of hours later, so I set off into the city so that I could get lunch while I waited for my room to open up. When I came back, I put my things away, and quickly took a shower before our adventure began. The luge track, in Sigulda, where we were headed is official Olympic practice course, used by many teams, including the Russians, and several of the other surrounding countries. There were only two of us who ended up going, Katie and me, not counting Adam, who ran the trips. Katie and I were geared up, and climbed into the bobsled, that was driven by the man who just won 4th place in the Winter Olympics this past year. The experience was such a rush, but has to be the most fleeting adventure sports out there; we finished our run in 46:69 seconds.
Once done, we got back in the car and headed back to Riga. Once back, I had dinner that was offered for free by the hostel that night! After dinner, I hung out for the pub crawl that night; we hit four pubs. We had a pint at each, and I had a fantastic time with everyone; the two Scots were an absolute riot. After the fourth pub, I knew that I needed to call it a night, so headed back to the hostel to sleep soundly.
On Wednesday morning, I woke and checked out, leaving my bag in storage while I went to see the city; Riga is a truly charming city. I hadn’t really been intending to see any of Latvia, but it made sense to travel via Riga returning to London after Russia, because it would be far cheaper that way. That said, I would go back to Latvia in a heartbeat; I loved it. The old city center is full of beautiful churches, and remains of old fortification. My favorite was the House of Blackheads in Riga’s Town Square, with its beautiful blue clock faces and golden embellishments. I also visited the Museum of Occupations, which documents the periods in which Latvia was occupied; it was truly fascinating.
After the museum, I headed back to the hostel to collect my bag, and then left for the airport so that I could fly back to England, where I would get to see my dad for the first time in nine months!!!
The beginning of the track
Katie, Adam, and me
You can see some of the luge track in the background in this photo
And again, more of the luge track, and a view of the Sigulda forest
We are ready to go!!
After our exhilarating ride, with our driver
The Freedom Monument, just outside of the Old City
St James’s Cathedral
Dom Square, in central Riga. The Dom Cathedral stands at the right of this photo, but you can’t see it very well.
The House of Blackheads… it houses Riga’s tourist office
A close up of the clock on the House of Blackheads
St. John’s Church