Riga Overview Riga Overview

Riga Overview

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Getting There

Riga International Airport (RIX) is a twenty five minute, 70 cent bus ride from the city centre. Bus N22 goes straight to the hostel, Ryanair flies direct from most major European cities, you can get a return ticket for around €50 (inc taxes) and the flight time is just over two hours.

Where to Stay

Friendly Fun Frank’s Hostel is not only easily accessible from the airport but everyone who stays here gets a free beer when they check in! The bus will drop you off just after you cross the river so look out for a yellow building with a bank on the ground floor. The entrance to the hostel is just around the back so head around the corner and turn into the first alley. The hostel door is orange, unmarked and has an intercom. Simply buzz this and you’re in. Inside there are free computers and free internet too

The Best Aggression Therapy Around – Ak47 Shooting

Something unique to Riga and your stay at this hostel is the chance to let rip with an AK47, a Glock 17 Pistol and a Benelli M3 Shotgun. Just to be clear you do this in an underground shooting range next to Latvian police officers who are training for their day to day duties! Eight live rounds with each weapon, transport to and from the range and an adrenaline calming beer at the hostel afterwards, will cost you 35 Lati – so approximately €50.

You can pick out your paper target from a range of amusing animations, you get to keep this at the end and you get the slightly chilling thrill that you just honed your target practice skills on a range that was used to train the KGB agents of yesteryear. You can also organise bob sleighing through the hostel if you happen to be there after October – during the winter months. The Bobsleigh range is about an hour out of the city.

The Riga Card

For 18 Lati (€25) you can pick up a Riga Card which will get you into all the top museums for free, the unlimited use of public transport, a free walking tour of the Old Town and discounts at a number of popular eateries. You can pick one up from the Tourism Information Centre which is in the city centre square, near the Museum of Occupation and the reconstructed Blackheads House.

When you use it to gain free entry into the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, you might be lucky enough to coincide your viewing with a rehearsal of classical musicians, in the chandelier clad hall. Aim for an early afternoon visit and you might just be in luck.

Money

When this article went to press in June 2013, one British Pound was worth 0.83 Latvian Lat and one Euro was worth 0.70 Latvian Lat. The currency here is strong! Latvia is trying to decrease its value ahead of joining the single European currency (1st january 2014) . Food in the right places is still very affordable but don’t presume it’s cheap just because it’s Eastern Europe and a former Soviet State. Take note of the Bentleys and Lamborghinis cruising through the cobbled streets!

Getting Around Riga

Trams and electric buses rule the roost in Riga. A single ticket anywhere is approximately one Lati or if you pick up a three-day, 18 Lati Riga Card – this includes unlimited public transport.

Stag Parties Beware

If you’re in Riga for a stag do and plan on ending up in a strip club then make sure you check out its reputation first. There are a lot of sting joints who employ heavies to make you part with your cash and credit cards, so if you want to get out without an over-draft, do your homework. You can ask at the bar in Friendly Fun Franks for a list of the good, the bad and the ugly – without any judgement.

Photo Happy

For the best photo opportunities head to St Peter’s Church on Kungu iela. It’s only 4 Lat to ascend the bell tower and the views from the top are spectacular.

Food and Drink

Aside from the Central Market, Riga is riddled with affordable and authentic eateries. Lido on Tirgonu iela is a great spot for tasty Latvian cuisine, as is Folk Club Ala on Peldu iela

For a taste of Latvian bar life take yourself to Funny Fox Bar (Karaoke), Kiwi Bar (Sports Bar), Paddy Whelans (Irish Pub)

Skyline Bar is great for a cocktail with great views owerlooking all of Riga.

For something really stodgy and completely unpretentious take yourself to the Central Market complex, just east of the old city centre.

In your best guide book Latvian – order some Belash. Two of these soviet meat pies will cost one Latvian Lati (about €1.40) and it will set you up for the day – or even the week.

The Massive  Central Market was converted from 5 large hangers where the Germans while occupying Latvia kept their Zeppelin Air Ships and You can see what’s left of Stalin’s Collective Farm mentality, Fresh food at good prices.

Above everything the stalls offer a great opportunity to emmerse yourself in real Latvian life and take some splendid snap shots of high speed carts, whizzing by – piled high with freshly slaughtered live stock. Slightly grotesque but a sight to behold nonetheless.

Fast Track Attractions

There are a number of minor attractions in Riga that you can cover in one go – during an afternoon. Start at Cathedral Square (Doma laukums) and swing by the Three Brothers on Maza Pils iela (the oldest houses in Latvia) en route to Riga Castle (Rigas Pils). From here head west past Parliament and the sole surviving city gate – Zviedru varti. Nearby you’ll also find the fourteenth century Powder Tower and the superb Museum of War.

A Little History

Latvia only gained its independence in 1991 and the scars of a prolonged occupation, first under the Nazis and then under the Soviet Union, are everywhere. To gain a truly humbling insight into what really happened, make sure you make time for a trip to the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia.

Entrance to the museum near the Rifleman monument is free, and inside there are multilingual guides to the totalitarian regimes of 1940 to 1991. The exhibit includes clothing, paper, metal mugs and much more – made with the bare hands of Latvian prisoners held in Siberian gulags. The photos of mass graves under both regimes are in plain sight and are a firm reminder of this country’s commitment – never to forget.

Sea Side Escapes

If you have time to factor some beach time into your break, then take a train from the station on MARIJAS SATEKLES IELA to Majori or Dzintari. These beaches are less than forty minutes away and if you jump on a train with Sloka as the final destination, you’re definitely on the right track.

The following links will give you guys a little more information about the AK47 shooting range, life in Riga, the afore mentioned money saving Riga Card and local resources. Tourism hasn’t really caught up with the tourists in the city yet, but it’s getting there and these sites are a good place to start.

www.rigacard.lv
www.riga-life.com

To book your shooting session in advance just send an e-mail to: friendlyfun@franks.lv

 

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Riga Overview
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