Last Monday I was feeling quite down to be honest. I didn’t have much of holidays over Christmas and suddenly I just felt overwhelmed with stuff. And I desperately wanted to come up with something fun to do. Fortunately Jesper thought of a good idea: let’s go to Riga! We had to be quite spontaneous with the planning, as the weather is not a reliable factor this time of the year. So, we waited for the storm to pass and on Friday after work the winds were calm enough for us to go to Riga, the Latvian capital.
How about that storm? We were quite happy that it passed quickly. Two nights before our trip there had been measurements of waves up to 14,2 meters high, a new record for the Baltic Sea. Our ferry MS Romantika, operated by Tallink Silja, was lightly damaged during the crossing that night. To our luck, the ship was not damaged seriously enough to risk our short adventure, once on the ship we could actually not spot any effects of the storm.
On Our Way to Riga
There are two ways to cross the Baltic Sea. You can hop on a plane or you can get on a ferry. Tallink Silja operates a daily ferry to Latvia. As the journey takes a good 18 hours, you spend quite a bit of time on the ferry. Flying is quicker of course, but sometimes it’s relaxing to travel by boat. Especially when it’s not windy!
On our way to Riga we decided to have a nice dinner in the restaurant. There are some to choose from, we decided that the buffet was not for us this time. Instead we enjoyed some steak and salmon in a calm environment. In the evening we listened to the band and watched the dance show in the nightclub. The cruises on the Baltic Sea can be fairly wild, with a lot of people partying and drinking. We are a bit “too old” for that stuff and fortunately most party animals had decided to spend their weekend somewhere else. We also had some time for shopping – if you’re going to treat yourself to a luxury lipstick, then this is the place to be.
On Saturday morning we had a delicious breakfast with such delicacies as Baltic dark bread, salmon, Carelian pies, fruit salad, croissants, pancakes, orange juice, and coffee. And then we suddenly found ourselves in Riga.
6 Hours In Riga
We had decided beforehand that we didn’t really need to do anything special in Riga. We had both visited the city before, so this time we just wanted to get away from Stockholm for a while. Further explorations have to wait until sunnier days. The whole city was covered in snow and it felt almost ghostly.
Riga is in fact famous for having the finest collection of art nouveau buildings in Europe. So, even though we didn’t have any specific plans for the day, I wanted to see Alberta iela (Albert Street). This street is especially famous for its art nouveau buildings.
Another point to tick off on our non-existent list was Georgian wine. It’s very difficult to find Georgian wine in Sweden, so we wanted to take the chance and find some of it in Riga. And we were lucky! Now we have some of that at home as well. I also bought some of that black rye bread, rupjmaize.
The Old Town in Riga is a very beautiful place – both in winter and summer. For us it was enough to just stroll around among all the old and picturesque buildings dating back as far as to the times of the Hanseatic League in the 13th–15th centuries. During our walk I started dreaming about a whole week – or even two weeks – in the Latvian capital. I could spend days in the cozy cafes and bookshops. Maybe some day!
We managed to squeeze in a quick and late lunch at TGI Friday’s before it was time to walk back to the boat. The lunch was OK, the walk back was better. We followed the City Canal, Pilsētas kanāls, the city’s old moat, back to the harbor. Our six hours in Riga had flown by!
Back to Stockholm
After a Saturday in Riga it was again time to embark the ferry. I had a facial treatment booked for the evening and it felt so good to be pampered. Not all the cruise ships on the Baltic Sea have spas, but some do. There were also saunas and a jacuzzi. I think it’s good that there are ways to entertain oneself and keep occupied on the ferries.
In the evening we watched the band and a couple of dance shows again before it was time to get a good night’s sleep. It’s funny how there was no trace of the storm that had been so strong only two days before.