Embracing the Cold in Riga

Walking out of Riga International Airport on Sunday evening was like walking right into Christmas! There’s no other way to describe it; there was snow on the ground, twinkling lights scattered all across the city in the distance and it was cold. Oh, it was cold!

But it was the nice kind of cold. You know, crisp and refreshing, the kind of cold that makes you want to don your bobble hat, grab a hot chocolate and listen to carol singers in the street. Not the type that makes your feet fall off and your personality resemble the Grinch.

I hadn’t anticipated snow at all  (Apple Weather missed a trick there!) so it was a lovely surprise to see a seemingly fresh dusting of the white stuff all over the ground especially after having the spent the last eight months almost consistently baking like a potato in various spots across the globe.

2 things it's impossible to photograph on an iPhone: the stars and night-time scenes!

2 things it’s impossible to photograph on an iPhone: the stars and night-time scenes!

This time of year in Latvia the sun sets before 4pm which to be honest I still can’t get my head around given that Latvia kind of looks in line with Scotland on a map. Does the sun really set this early in Scotland?!

As a result of darkness falling early (that sounds a lot more sinister than intended!) it’s currently 9:30pm and I’m typing this from the bed in my hotel room, having excused myself from the bar an hour ago because my eyes kept involuntarily closing and I couldn’t stop yawning. There’s honestly no reason I should be tired! I slept a solid eight and a half hours last night, didn’t do anything particularly strenuous today and haven’t eaten enough to cause a food coma. But I think my body and brain and everything in between see the dark sky and the twinkly stars and think “a-ha, bed time!” and go into Sleep Mode. Evidently I’m not sleeping though, I’m typing, but it’s only a matter of time…

Moving away from my sleeping pattern and back to Riga…

It. Is. Beautiful.

Cobbled streets, Art Nouveau architecture and people who walk through the streets smiling to themselves; it really wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney film!

In fact, a lot of the buildings remind me of the structures at Disneyland California’s Main Street!

Even though the snow stopped falling pretty much as soon as we arrived, had all but melted by the next morning and been replaced with rain and grey skies, there’s just something about Riga that makes me not even care that I’m getting soaked to the skin and may or may not contract pneumonia by the end of the trip.

riga-buldings

It’s a city where you don’t have to do anything; you can just wander around aimlessly for hours on end and not even get bored! Definitely my bank account’s my favourite type of place!

Although it’s only been two days so far, what I appreciate the most about Riga is that it’s made me realise something, and that is that stepping out of your comfort zone really isn’t so bad!

I don’t bode well with cold. Never have and don’t think I ever will.

Consequently I’ve always found myself drawn to warmer, more tropical climates, although admittedly there are some places I’ve always wanted to visit (hey Iceland you icy thing, you!) that can only be described as the colder side of cold. So booking a trip to a Baltic country during winter was most certainly out of sorts for me!

But despite inwardly cursing myself for only bringing one pair of fluffy socks, and even though I genuinely thought I was going to lose all my fingers standing on top of a church tower in the wind, I don’t regret booking this trip.

It turns out that cold countries aren’t so bad after all. In fact, they’re rather bloody fantastic!

Are you more of a summer or winter holiday kind of person?!

If you’d like to see more of Riga’s superb infrastructure, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram! I really am outdoing myself with the building photography this trip…

 

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14 Comments

  1. 7th December 2016 / 11:03 pm

    What a beautiful place. Enjoyed reading your post. And photos are great.

    • rhiydwi
      8th December 2016 / 8:47 am

      Thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed 🙂

  2. Estelle
    8th December 2016 / 10:34 am

    Hi, I am flying into Riga today, and advice for this weekend on things to do, also is it snowing???

    • rhiydwi
      8th December 2016 / 12:53 pm

      Hi! There’s quite a bit to occupy yourself with – a lot of which is free or very low cost (hooray!). If you’re into museums and learning about the history of Latvia, there’s a lot of different ones scattered around but I’d highly recommend the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia; it was incredibly interesting and such an eye-opener! I’d also suggest paying the €9 to enter St Peter’s Church and go up the tower as the view over the Old Town and beyond is absolutely wonderful. Then there’s the Nativity Cathedral, which is by far one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever been in!
      There’s a Christmas Market in one of the squares and it has a timetable of special events. I know there was nothing between December 4th-9th but things are starting up again from tomorrow so you may want to check that out! 🙂 Not snowing at the moment but very, very cold! And I wouldn’t rule out snow for this weekend either!

      • Estelle
        8th December 2016 / 1:34 pm

        Thank you, that is very helpful…

        • rhiydwi
          8th December 2016 / 4:00 pm

          You’re most welcome! Hope you have an amazing trip!

  3. 8th December 2016 / 1:29 pm

    One of my favorite trips ever was to Russia, Estonia, and Finland one January. People thought I was nuts, but those places know how to do some seriously cozy stuff to fight off the cold and darkness of their long winters. They were magical. I’m a much bigger fan of warm places, but that trip holds a special place in my memories!

    • rhiydwi
      8th December 2016 / 4:08 pm

      Oh wow, all three in one?! That sounds like the makings of an incredible trip! I’ve noticed that about here too – lots and lots of cosy coffee shops and quite a few places to get hot wine. Just had a little look through some of your posts about Estonia/Russia. Oh my do your pictures look beautiful or what?! How simple was the Russian visa process for you?

      • 8th December 2016 / 4:25 pm

        The Russian visa was a pain in the neck … and the wallet! I think it cost me $400 and it took forever. It was never in doubt, and my hotel in St Petersburg gave me the reference letter very quickly, but the rest of it was just time-consuming and overly complicated. I think it’s easier now (I went two years ago). It was worth it in the end, though. We had a great time everywhere on that trip!

        • rhiydwi
          10th December 2016 / 12:36 pm

          Wow, I had no idea it was that much! I’ve briefly looked into it and it does seem to be a lot cheaper and relatively simple now, especially with a UK passport. So there’s hope for me yet!

    • rhiydwi
      15th December 2016 / 1:21 pm

      You actually instantly sprung to mind as I typed that last question! It really is such a lovely place 🙂

  4. 17th January 2017 / 11:14 pm

    Riga looks stunning! I’m a winter wonderland kinda girl myself – can’t bear the heat (BAD Australian). I’ve had a mission (yep, another one) to visit all the Nordic countries and territories. With two to go, am gonna go right ahead and move onto the Baltics after I’m done, haha. I love the fact that the residents took the time to decorate all the windows with bows.

    • rhiydwi
      20th January 2017 / 12:40 pm

      Hahaha super bad Australian! Between your plastic mission, Australia mission and this one, do you have time to eat and breathe? 😉 Sounds like an awesome plan, but not one I’d ever be likely to replicate. I hate cold.

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