Wednesday, October 21, 2009
riga - day 5
If Tallinn is clearly medieval themed, then Riga is the city of art nouveau. We barely spent a day there and I wish we could've had more time.
After leaving Tallinn we stopped for lunch in a small village off the main road called Haademeeste. We hadn't passed by any roadside restaurants in a while so decided to stop here before reaching the border. We found the local café and had a delicious lunch outside. Save one particular day we didn't have any problems finding a nice place to eat while driving around, and found the roads to be quite safe and reasonably maintained.
We stopped at this beach on the way ... Although it was sunny and warm it was quite deserted except for some kite surfers out there.
We drove into Riga in the afternoon and had a bit of difficulty finding our hotel. Riga is not so small but eventually we made our way into the city center. Our hotel was a bit outside of the main historical area, but quite close to the most famous art nouveau buildings.
the Town Hall Square
House of Blackheads and the statue of Saint Roland
So after checking in we decided to walk around the center for a while. It's another great city to just walk, there's lots to see and seemed to be totally safe.
the Freedom monument, honoring soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence (1918-1920)
We didn't visit the castle, but stopped in St. Peter's church, just before they closed the admission to the tower. From the top there's a 360º view of Riga, and quite worth paying the entrance fee for.
We didn't visit any other monuments, because we spent some time visiting an exhibition in the Museum of Decorative Arts (which was so good it deserves a separate post. And I have photos, lots and lots of photos !).
more woolly items ... this lady was knitting a sock :)
But I loved the vibrant feel of this city. Everyone seemed to be out in the streets or enjoying the sun in a nearby café or esplanade.
We loved the Cat House, of course...
Fittingly, we also found this kitty asleep on a garden nearby
Because it was my birthday we wanted to go somewhere special for dinner. According to my research one of the best places in town was Bergs, and since it wasn't far from the center we decided to go there, even with no reservation. It's located in a busy courtyard, next to the hotel with the same name and another popular restaurant.
We hesitated a bit before going in. It seemed just too sophisticated (and we dressed in our casual travel attire) and it appeared empty except for a few people in the tables outside. We decided to go in anyway and opted to seat outside as well. To say it was one of the best meals in my life is probably an understatement (althoug a dinner we just had in the Pyrenees comes quite close). I ordered my favorite - duck - and it was divine. Cooked so tender it melted in my mouth. The starters (and amouse bouche) were also very good, but the cherry on top of the cake was the dessert. The best chocolate gateau I've ever had. Period.
The next morning it was cloudy again and we went to visit the art nouveau district, around Elisabetes iela, Strelnieku iela and Albert iela.
This was definitely my favorite one .... amazing, isn't it ?
Back at the hotel, there was time for a (wise) cup of tea before leaving for Vilnius ....
More photos here