I’ve been sitting on this post, half-written, for a week now. There’s a lot going on in my personal life regarding making decisions and feeling very uninspired and I’m having a difficult time adjusting back to a working schedule. VERY DIFFICULT. I’m also kind of fretting over my dog, who needs to gain weight and I’m worried about him not being 100% health again since he is over 10 years old now. In short, I just felt like recapping my amazing trip would make me sad. I need to do it for myself though, so I remember. I hope it doesn’t make me sad, so here goes…
I departed Warsaw early in the morning (7:20 am flight) and was at my Airbnb in the Agenskalns neighborhood by 10:30 am. I stayed in an apartment that was in a large apartment building in the backyard of another large apartment building. One thing that I could definitely get used to about life in a European city is the fact places are small. I live in a junior one bedroom in Chicago and I actually think I could get used to life without a tv, a separate bedroom, etc.
For example, in Warsaw, there were three bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a kitchen with a small table, no living room type space. In the apartment in Riga, it was just a very large studio. When you walked in the kitchen was immediately in a room to the right (with a table) and then bathroom beyond that. The living space was one very large room beyond the entry and it easily fit a large queen sized bed, chairs, an armoire, a bookshelf, nightstands, etc, with plenty of room to spare. Either apartment I could have lived in comfortably and happily if I chose to live in Warsaw or Riga.
My first order of business once I arrived in Riga was to pick up my marathon bag with my number since the race was the next day. Riga is not a large city but the marathon expo was about 3-4 km from my accommodations. I took the trolleybus and didn’t really understand the stops and people did not really speak English (that I heard at that point) so I just used the GPS on my phone to exit the bus when I felt close enough. It was raining fairly heavily that day so most of my walk was in the rain. I knew I’d be seeking cover and some food immediately after so I was not worried.
I wandered in the rain for a bit after picking up my number to get back into the busier part of town and towards the Daugava river and Old Town, and came upon a place called TAKA that looked cool, had live music, and wasn’t too crowded. The two bartenders on staff were very helpful in selecting a beer (local double IPA for me!) and I had a really delicious hot wrap of meat, beans, and vegetables. I don’t know if it was traditional Latvian cuisine, but when you’re hungry and need to be conserving energy and eating for a marathon the next day, you can’t be super picky.
After TAKA I slowly made my meandering, I’ve-lost-my-sense-of-direction way to Old Town to take in the beauty and see the start before the race. To cut myself some slack, it was my first day there and the streets are old and winding (but not as winding as Vilnius, oh lord, more on that when I review Vilnius). I can’t be expected to know a city’s streets and directions perfectly after a couple of hours there while operating on very little sleep. Usually, I have a very good sense of direction and I navigate very well though, so I was annoyed with myself.
I enjoyed walking around and being with the other tourists on a Saturday who didn’t mind a little rain. It was nice to walk around and be completely surrounded by people who didn’t speak English. That might sound weird but it was oddly peaceful. I enjoyed the brick paved streets, the empty squares, and the Art Nouveau architecture and the beautiful buildings and squares of Old Town. One of my favorite things to do is just wander the streets and get lost discovering the little alleyways, colorful buildings, and unique architecture and I happily spent the afternoon doing just that.