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latvia [2011/10/21 22:26]
tjones
latvia [2011/10/21 22:27] (current)
tjones
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 +====Latvia====
  
 +Serviced by national (cheap) airline airbaltic. ​ 2 hour direct flights to Riga from Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and more.  Also some Ryanair flights.
 +
 +==Culture/​language==
 +
 +Latvian is a member of the Baltic language family, which is only related to Lithuanian (not close to Russian). ​ Young people do tend to speak English, and we didn't have trouble getting around without knowing any Latvian.  ​
 +
 +There is a very significant Russian minority in Latvia (~30%, or higher in Riga), and there is a lot of tension between the two groups. ​ Individually,​ they were both nice to us, but each was unhappy with the other groups. ​ There are a number of people with Russian heritage without citizenship (to any country)-- they need to learn Latvian to be eligible. ===
 +
 +
 +==Geography== ​
 +The country is very flat and forested.
 +
 +===Riga===
 +"The Paris of the North"​. ​  Riga has a very nice Art Noveau section, in addition to older buildings in "Old Riga"​. ​
 +
 +Riga is also the bachelor party capital of Europe-- Brits tend to go there to do things like AK-47 shooting and bobsledding.
 +
 +Make sure to get a guidebook at the info station at the airport! ​ It's quite useful!
 +
 +==Getting around==
 +
 +The 22 bus will take you from the airport into town; get off at Stockmann center (train/bus depot) for the center of town.  There are also shuttles for 3 lats/5 Euros. ​ Taxis should cost no more than 10 lats/20 USD into town.
 +
 +The city itself is pretty walkable, but taxis are cheap and useful for late nights.
 +
 +==Food==
 +Double coffee=Starbucks there, but also a restaurant. ​ Coffee Inn is more coffee-house like, and has internet.
 +
 +General food is much like Russian food-- Borscht, sauerkraut, sausages, and stranger items like chicken with cheese and pineapple (quite good).
 +
 +==Bars==
 +    * Leningrad is pretty chill, reminiscent of Soviet Days
 +    * Skyline bar in the Radisson has one of the highest views in the city.  Expensive by Latvian standards (comparable to U.S.), but very nice and chill.
 +
 +Be careful to avoid places listed as suspicious by the U.S. embassy (I'm pretty sure they were all strip clubs). ​ The info is in the guidebook.
 +
 +==To Do==
 +
 +     * The Ethnographic museum is really really cool, and probably the top thing you should do.  Take the 1 bus there or a taxi (10 lats/20 USD).  It has houses/​villages from 16th-19th century Latvia (it's in the woods), and is like a Latvian Colonial Williamsburg.
 +     * Take a free walking tour.  Meets at noon outside of St. Peter'​s church, takes about 2.5 hours. ​ Very informative!
 +     * Check out the Occupation Museum
 +     * Walk around the market
 +     * Go bobsledding
 +     * Shoot AK-47s if you are so inclined