Rounding the world – Day 9: Vilnius to Riga…

The clouds are back! I guess the rareness of the sun just makes us appreciate it more. The temperatures are slowly dropping more and more each day, this morning it was high 20s. I guess that means I should be totally ready for the chill of Siberia in a couple weeks! Silver lining, ha!

This morning was a bit of a wash, I had covered the high points in the prior days so used the morning to pack up and spend time catching up on emails and writing over a cappuccino at the nearby coffee shop. I’ll miss those homemade croissants stuffed with cherries. Yumm…

The bus station was a quick 15 minute walk from the hotel, though I hadn’t realized it was up a little hill until I was carry my pack and in a hurry. Whew! I realized in my rush to check out I’d left behind my snazzy warm gloves with those finger patches to use your mobile without taking them off. Boo. It’s breezy and in the 30s. Not the best weather for no gloves. Guess I’ll have to buy new ones. Never a fun thing to do when in overpriced tourist areas. Fingers (frozenly) crossed!!

The bus ride was mostly uneventful. It was around 4-5 hours direct from Vilnius to Riga. We only stopped once to pick up a driver. We literally stopped on the freeway. In less than a minute another Lux Express stopped on the opposite side of the freeway heading South. A guy jumped out the other bus. Crossed two lanes of freeway, then the median, then two more lanes of freeway, and then into our bus. Wow, brave man! Then we were off again like nothing had happened. The second stop I have no idea what happened. We stopped, the driver got out, I heard a trunk open and shut, he came back and we were off.

The bus was only half full and the seat next to me was empty. So nice. The guy behind me had terrible BO and I felt bad for the poor lady next to him. Feeling lucky I got the seat I did!! This trip was a Depeche Mode ride – best of soundtrack. Which allowed me lots of uninterrupted reflecting time. I wondered if they wrote a book on my life, what would it be like, how would my childhood be portrayed, my teenage ‘wild’ years, my college years, my working years, and my various serious relationships…It made me go thru such a range of emotions from sad to feeling blessed to angry to content and everything in between. Life is weird like that right! Then I sat back and ate the peanuts, apple, and sort-of-Cheetos I bought at the bus station for lunch while staring out the window watching the vast landscapes pass by.

We pulled in to Riga around 3pm and the hotel was only 10 minutes walk. Riga is circular, which I’m sure if I was attacking the city centuries ago would have been great, but as a tourist today it takes a little getting used too. Luckily my hotel was literally right in the heart of old town Riga, next to the main and tallest cathedral. Thank you United points! I love free stuff :)

Riga has a circular old town with cobble stone streets and historic architecture either well preserved or well restored (I guess I’ll find out tomorrow!). For the small area, it has a considerable number of large churches that take entire city blocks. It seems only taxis can enter the old town, so the streets are very walking friendly. Just about everyone spoke English and I heard more American accents than in any other town thus far. Strange! I was surprised how much of the old city I was able to see in the few hours I had before dinner. Though my freezing fingers were wishing I’d either take less pictures or finally buy a new pair of gloves. But my frugal side of me was frustrated I had to spend money on gloves when I had brought them…ugh…tomorrow. Tomorrow I will get over it and buy gloves. Ha!

Using my good pal Lonely Planet to lead the way to a restaurant (despite its blunder last night!), it recommended 3 Pavaru Restorans which turned out to be a lovely choice. Despite the Beach Boys playing on the stereo, it was a classy modern restaurant with a passion for artistically designed food (which I love – the prettier the better – haha!). I started my meal with a simple salad, which they literally prepared in front of me – chopping the tomatoes fresh, preparing the lettuce fresh, etc. It was probably the freshest salad I’ve ever had, like eating straight from the garden. I will note I sat at the bar counter which is where they prepared the food and if you look food presentation (which I do!) it was awesome to see the ‘artists’ at work. For dinner, I had the trout which also came loaded with fresh veggies. I love veggies! I feel like I’ve been on a fresh veggie famine since Germany so I was in veggie heaven. Anyone that knows me knows I’ll eat a bag of carrots over a slice of cake any day – I love me my veggies.

The city was alive with people and evening venues from clubs to pubs to late night eateries, everyone was out enjoying the night. After a few glasses of wine, who cares that it’s only 20 degrees right!



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