Riga was the second to last stop on our Baltic Cruise. I have to admit this is the city I knew the least about going in, and the section in the guidebook about it was sparse. We figured we’d pick up a walking tour then head to the famous markets and enjoy some lunch and drinks in the afternoon. Actually getting on a walking tour was tricky. Unbeknownst to us, it was a holiday, the day after midsummer. Much of the city was closed, and many of the residents hungover, including some tour guides who showed up rather late. We took a tour through the Smile Line, one of the larger walking tour agencies in the city with some friends we’d made on the boat. Despite the delay, the tour was worthwhile. We wandered around the art nouveau buildings (a UNESCO world heritage site, as Riga has one of the best collections in the world!) and learned about the hanseatic history of the city, the guilds and the more recent soviet occupation. Our tour guide had lived through the harrowing occupation and liberation of the city, and hearing her personal stories of life during that time was very interesting.
After the tour ended, we found an outdoor cafe to enjoy a relaxing lunch and a few pints of local beer. We’d been told to try the fried rye bread as a starter… It did not disappoint! After lunch was a trip to the Riga Central Market, huge German zepplin hangers turned into a massive market hall! Unfortunately, due to the holiday, much of it was closed but we were still able to wander around a few stalls of antiques, berries and meat before grabbing some local beer and catching the shuttle back to our boat.