Riga – April 25
This one is for you Lau. But I hope the other 75% of my readers will also appreciate a blog post that has absolutely nothing to do with hitch-hiking.
Even though I was tired I had set my alarm clock at 9:30 to get some free breakfast from the hostel. The plan was to go back to bed afterwards but I started talking with a Chinese guy named Charles (his real name was impossible to pronounce) about the Riga free tour he wanted to check. Olivier (the guy with the sidecar) overheard us and highly recommended that tour. The tour would start at 12 PM near the Saint Peters church, so I decided to take a shower and try to work for an hour. The second part of the plan didn’t quite work out because a group of Danish tourists arrived just after I opened up my laptop. For some reason they had trouble with talking, so they shouted the place to bits instead.
I headed to the church at around 11:50 and after circling the church once I began to fear that I wasn’t in the right place, because I couldn’t see Charles anywhere either. (Later it turned out that he was waiting at the wrong church.) I knew from Olivier that I would have to look for a funny guy with a beard and a hat, so I asked a bearded guy with a cap and a yellow suitcase, who looked like some kind of hobo street performer, if he knew anything about a free tour. As he started messing with my head, I soon realized this guy was supposed to be the funny bearded guy who’s hat was actually a cap.
I felt like Riga looked like a fake plastic city when I first arrived, so I was happy to hear that the guide had the same feeling about the old town. We spent less than 10% of the entire tour in this Disneyland-like city center. The guide took us to some places you would never stumble upon as a tourist. He taught us about the history and mindset of the city and the rest of Latvia and it’s population. We also learned how to spot pick pockets from afar, that the stock price for potatoes is set in Riga, that the Swedes have all the money, that Riga burned itself to the ground a couple of times for no particular reason, that the largest building in the EU is Riga’s television tower (sorry, forgot to take a picture) and that the flower market opens at 5 AM so drunken husbands can bring home flowers to their wives to apologize for staying out all night.
During the tour I also met Hendrik, an interesting German guy who lives in Sweden and was visiting his Latvian girlfriend which he had met in the US during an exchange program. After the tour we ate noodles in the park and then he joined me on my search for a ukulele. After I found one for 35 EUR I headed back to the hostel to wash my clothes and catch some sleep.