Riga, Latvia (via Pärnu, Estonia)

We picked up a rent-a-car from the Tallinn airport and drove to Riga, Latvia via the coast and Parnu. Was a easy dive of about 3.5 hours not counting the visit to Parnu.  
 Who knew?

The old town is small but it has a pretty pedestrian only area with nice restaurants and quaint shops. 

 Think most people come for the beach and spas which are about 2k out of town.

 Old city wall gate. All that remains. 

 Long, white sandy beaches, shallow waters and “the best Sun in Estonia” Parnu seems the perfect family resort and is also home to a variety of spas. There is and a nice beach promenade ideal for walking, cycling and roller skating with playgrounds, water fountains and play areas.

Right next to beach, great for kids.

 Riga, Latvia 
Riga, Latvia’s capital, is set on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the River Daugava. It's considered a cultural center and is home to many museums and concert halls. The city is also known for its wooden buildings, art nouveau architecture and medieval Old Town. The pedestrian-only Old Town has many shops and restaurants and is home to busy Livu Square, with bars and nightclubs. Although a busy town we loved Riga and it remains a favorite. 

The statue is inspired by a tale written by the Brother's Grim, which tells the story of a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster who are no longer considered useful by their owners and decide to become musicians.

 St. Peter's

 Every building in the old town was worth looking at.

 Great outdoor eating everywhere.

 Still a bit of a party town. Lots of bachelor and hen parties, but nothing out of hand. Was fun to be around and a safe city center.

 Riga Cat

 A choir contest going on while we were there. We saw choirs from all over the world.

 The Freedom Monument in Riga is a symbol of independence and liberty. This impressive monument was built to honour the soldiers who had died during the Latvian War of Independence between 1918-1920, fought between the Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic and the provision government of the Republic of Latvia, supported by a combination of the Western Allies, Estonia and Poland.

 Choir team.

 Lots of street activity

 The Three Brothers. from right to left were built in 1500, 1600, and 1700's.

House of the Blackheads.
Towards the end of the 14th century, the guilds uniting Riga’s merchants and craftsmen were joined by a brotherhood of banquet caterers to upper classes which quite significantly called themselves Blackheads. Its members included young and unmarried merchants of foreign, mostly German, descent. The Blackheads chose St. Maurice as their patron saint, who traditionally was depicted as a black soldier in knight’s armor.  

Was got lost (a little) walking to the old zeppelin buildings, but captured this and the  next picture as a result. We search out local markets wherever we go, we just love them, as they give you a quick feeling of what the locals do.

 Local City Market held in and around a series of old Zeppelin Hangers. 

Zeppelin Hangers 

From the Market we UBERed (cheap < $5) to the Art Nouveau District
Art nouveau architecture is one of Riga’s claims to fame, and rightly so. Not to be confused, as it often is, with 1930s art deco that is so famously illustrated in the Chrysler and Empire State buildings of New York, the ‘new art’ or ‘new style’ often referred to as Jugendstil is a slightly older form of expression that gained popularity at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Confused? A general rule of thumb is that if something looks sleek, angular and shiny it’s probably art deco, but if you’re faced with elaborate, flamboyant naked maidens, floral motifs and funky gargoyles, it’s most likely art nouveau.

Art Nouveau District 

 Great lunch at Ristorante Rivera (Dzirnavu Street 31) in the heart of the Art Nouveau District

 Looking up a stairway.

 Posters from the KGB Building

The front door to the notorious former headquarters of the Soviet KGB in Riga, also known by locals as the "corner house".A silent reminder of the decades of horrors it witnessed, the massive building on the corner of Brivības Street and Stabu Street stares blindly at the city with dusty and dark glass eyes, its walls retaining hundreds of terrifying stories and secrets.

 Off a quit street near KGB Building.

 Riga Dome Square

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