The Horse and the Beaver

Most of our holidays are centred around walking and eating and walking some more so we are hungry again. Riga was no exception. Not knowing what to expect we were really pleased to get off to a good start by visiting Garage, a tapas bar where I had a delicious ceviche salad and Jonny had a small platter of local cheese.

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On the prowl that night for some vegetarian fast food we went to Street Burgers, open on Good Friday and serving a hearty portobello burger with a side order of fries.

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The next morning, in search of good coffee we headed for Innocent Cafe and found it was brunch time. The table was laden with strips of smoked cheese, pickled vegetables, potatoes, salads and fish.

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 To be honest my stomach was not ready for some of these savoury treats but I happily had a couple of rounds of olives, potatoes and cheese on toast.

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Later, in the Old Town, I popped into Black Magic cafe. They specialise in serving Riga Black Balsam, a herbal liqueur served in coffee or neat. It wasn’t quite balsam-o-clock yet so some more walking was called for before our next stop.

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Looking for lunch we were nearly invited into this den by the Latvian Russell Crowe but pushed on to find restaurant 1221 of which we’d read good things.

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1221 was as lovely as described with lots of people stopping to take photos of the painted exterior.

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Unfortunately however, the menu was not a good fit for a vegetarian and his vege-quarian companions.

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Although for the carnivores there was something for everyone.

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We dined that night at our hotel restaurant, which we never do but it was cold and raining so we allowed ourselves the luxury of going downstairs. The food was delicious and came with glasses of birch water, compliments of the chef.

So we managed to eat our way around Riga without resorting to pork knuckles and cabbage as some guide books would suggest. The euro goes a lot further outside of Finland too and we were very grateful to leave feeling so well fed.

Seems the only thing going hungry on our trip were these poor little guys at the airport.

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Riga’s Central Market

A review on Trip Advisor warned that Riga’s Central Market is good but only if you like the same old stuff. Ha! Depends where you come from really, because what’s same old stuff to you, may not be same old stuff to me.

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Housed in what were once Zeppelin hangars, Riga’s Central Market was opened in 1930 and covers 72,000 square metres.

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You can smell the first hangar before you even enter. Not in a bad way, but in a bustling, crowded, bouquets of dried fish on the counter kind of way.

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We stopped in the walkway to the next hangar to buy a couple of wooden spoons for our kitchen. Local honey and woollen socks were also on offer in this part of the market.

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The next hangar was full of sweets. Latvia seems to have a love affair with pastries and, surprisingly, halva, which we found was also included in our breakfast buffet in the city.

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Latvian’s are proud of their dairy production and rightly so. We saw beautiful piles of soft cheeses and curds but opted instead for some hard Dutch cheese we could bring home in our luggage.

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Then it was through to the produce market. If you love vinegar like I do, then this one’s for you.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Piles of colourful vegetables preserved in oil and vinegar were everywhere, many displayed in huge vases.

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Finally we walked past piles of dried goods: pasta, tea, ketchup and rice. Not terribly interesting products in themselves but still worth taking a photo of, because having never seen this packaging before, they are not the same old stuff to me!

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Riga Central Market

This post has been shared as part of the Show Your World feature on the Tiny Expats blog – you can find out more here.

Show Your World

Latvian Loma (holiday)

Latvia’s capital Riga was founded in 1201 and sits about 360km south of Helsinki (the same distance as Auckland to Ohakune in New Zealand). The flight takes just under an hour, making it a perfect destination for a short Easter break.

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As we headed out on Good Friday, I was looking forward to seeing the Old Town and the examples of Art Nouveau architecture, which are considered to be some of the best in the world.

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It is estimated that around 40 per cent of Riga’s central buildings are in the Art Nouveau style, with many examples evident along Alberta Iela.

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The street is also home to the Art Nouveau museum and a store selling beautiful Art Nouveau jewellery, lamps and art.

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I have a soft spot for Latvia because two of my close friends in Australia have family from there. I would be lying however if I said the legacy of its occupation is not still visible in the city. To me it was apparent as soon as we left the airport.

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Latvia was occupied by both the Soviets and Nazi Germany, before gaining back its independence in 1991.

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There are a lot of parks in the city, which we walked through on our way to the Old Town.

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I think they will become quite beautiful in summer, once all the trees are full once more of green foliage and the birds have returned from their southern migration.

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We had such a great holiday – most countries outside of Finland are so much cheaper by comparison and with Latvia’s reputation as a spa destination we treated ourselves to massages and a nice hotel.

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There were lots of locals around, including lots of women in maybe their sixties or seventies, many of them dressed alike. There is also a really good hipster scene, which I say with no judgement because where there’s hipsters – there’s good coffee!

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I’m going to write more about all the yummy food we ate and the great markets we visited but for now, it’s time for lunch.

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