Photo Diary: A Winter Getaway to Riga

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First day of Winter and there I was, standing in Riga, the capital of Latvia and the largest city in the Baltics. The morning sun gently kissed my cold cheeks as I stepped outside the hotel and turned my head towards the sky. The days before as I traveled through Sweden to catch my flight in Stockholm, the weather had been nothing but gloomy. You know, like one can expect from those last dispiriting days of November. But today was sweetly different. Blue skye. Only light cloudy. A perfect clear day to get acquainted with a new city.

Two full days was all I had at hands to explore Riga. Still it seemed to be enough time for me to sink my teeth into the city and get a quick taste. Together with four fellow Nordic Nomads, I had crossed the Baltic Sea to try out modern Latvian cuisine in various restaurants and through a cooking class. Little did I know I was in for a serious treat. My prior knowledge of Latvian food was non-existent but I had a vague idea that simple pork, potatoes and cabbage would become my source of daily fuel. Oh was I shamefully wrong!
In between the culinary feasts, my time was mostly spent in the heart of the city known as Old Town Riga. It's located on the east side of the Daugava River, which flows through and divides the Latvian capital in two. Here in the old town, the maze of picturesque cobblestone streets is rich in history, filled with character and an abundance of architectural gems. There's a reason why this historical center of Riga is listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and with more than 800 years under its belt, the Old Town (est. in the 13th century) knows how to throw in a few punches that will leave you stunned with admiration for this old champ. In particular the Art Nouveau is not to be missed in Riga. It's here that Europe's most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings can be seen with some of the best examples lined at the Alberta, Elizabetes, and Strelniku streets. I'm 100% smitten with the architecture, so I did not cheat myself from raising my eyes upwards when walking through the city.
While a city is always best explored on ground, you can not take away that there is something fun about seeing it all from a birds perspective. For the best panoramic view of Riga, the top of the spire of St. Peter's Church is definitely not a bad choice. The church is located right next to House of Blackheads, another prominent landmark with a fascinating facade. Gazing over the city skyline, one could see the Riga Central Market housed in five pavilions (former German Zeppelin hangers) just outside of the Old Town Walls. It's a massive market place buzzing with locals getting on with their daily lives. A wide array of vegetable, dairy, meat and fish can be found here. Roaming around the local market is always an adventure for those who eat with their eyes and taste with their nose. Personally, I wish I had spent more time here to really soak up the atmosphere and capture the busy, colorful, raw and unpolised market life, and to cater my stomach with some local delicacies.
As December had begun, several squares had turned themselves into their own cosy Christmassy havens. One evening I went to the Old Town Christmas Fair at Dome square. Christmas spirit was high, people were smiling and the light sparkled during the dark Winter hours. The small stands around the Christmas tree were packed with delicious treats such as glittering glazed gingerbread houses, roasted almonds, mulled wine and hot drinks. Also handmade warm socks, hats, scarfs and other Latvian handcraft were being sold. I don't know about you, but there's something about these Christmas markets that always puts me in a good mood. Hanging out at the stalls, trying to catch some warmth while setting your frosty teeth into those Christmas sweets, ahh that is one of the small joys of December.
There is something about European cities that make them so wonderful. I'm not much for thinking too deeply about history but I do love that a city's character and facade is a reflection of its past historical events. Surely I have only scratched the surface of what can be uncovered in Riga, which only makes me want to come back someday and digg a little deeper. If anything, I'm counting on our Latvian Instagram friend Eleina to let me in on all the Riga secrets. I met her for the first time in Malmø just three days before this trip (Insta-proof) and dreams of conquering the Nordics and the Baltics are already spinning off - haha. Have you been to Riga? And what should one try to really get under the skin of Riga?
Collaboration information
The trip to Riga was made in collaboration with Nordic Nomads and Riga's official tourism office LiveRiga

12 comments:

  1. Smukt, smukt, smukt - det er sådan nogle fantastiske billeder. Jeg skal selv til Riga i maj måned i en weekend sammen med familien da vi skal løbe halvmarathon. Efter dette indlæg glæder jeg mig endnu mere. :))))

    Nikoline

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    1. Hvor fedt at familien drager til Riga for at løbe halvmarathon!! Du løber måske meget? Eller er det første gang, at du deltager ved sådan et løb? :) Kan kun forestille mig at Riga er endnu finere i maj, hvor der er flere lysetimer at nyde byen i! Hvis I har tid, så kan jeg godt anbefale Rigas bedste spa, ESPA, hvis I trænger til lidt forkælelse efter at have pisket jer selv gennem 21 hårde kilometre ;)

      http://www.hamacareise.com/europa/rigas-beste-spa-espa/

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    2. ups har først nu set dit svar. Jeg prøver at løbe meget, men det går kun godt hvis jeg har sat mig selv et mål. :D I 2013 løb jeg halvmarathon i Hamborg, og det var sådan en fed oplevelse og fantastisk stemning, at jeg fik overtalt familien til det. Tak for tips :) Det får vi sikkert brug for :D

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  2. Nøj, hvor ser Riga smuk ud! Virkelig nogle fine billeder du har fået taget, Michelle! Endnu en destination er blevet tilføjet bucketlisten ;)

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    1. 1000 tak Laura og dejligt at se dig herinde igen! ;) Man skal virkelig unde sig selv en tur til de baltiske lande - har selv tilføjet dem til min bucketliste! haha. Synes der var noget ganske hyggeligt over Riga lidt på samme måde som ved Aarhus :)

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    1. Tak Sara! :) Vi må også snart finde en dag, hvor vi kan mødes og du kan få Islands-billederne ELLER måske tage på tur!!!

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  4. Utrolig flotte bilder. Jeg har vært i Riga kun om sommeren, men jeg ser det er en perle også om vinteren!

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    1. Mange tak Maria! :) Riga er bestemt en charmerende by selv i de kolde vintertider. Personligt kan jeg rigtig godt lide at besøge europæiske byer, når temperaturen er lidt lavere og der er færre turister - det giver byerne et helt andet liv end hen over sommerperioden :)

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  5. My god, these photographs are so beautiful and I miss seeing gorgeous architectures in Europe! The streets and everything. I definitely need to come go back to Europe and explore some more

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    1. Aww thanks Atika! You definitely need to ;) When was the last time you visited Europe?

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  6. Åh. Bildene. Reisene. Jeg får frysninger. Det er så fint å følge dere på instagram. Og for så å finne hele historier her på bloggen. Elsker det.

    // Tusen takk Sheena, og JA til rømmesaus og stekt løk, haha. Har så lyst til å møte både deg og Michelle. En dag. En vakker dag i fremtiden. Håper jeg :)

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