We first popped into Riga on a bus from Tallinn – the old town is a short few minute walk away but we didn’t yet know this. After we located the word “old town” in Latvian on the Internet and showed a taxi driver our phone screen – he just laughed and pointed in the direction of where we needed to walk.
Two minutes later we walked into the Riga Old Town Hostel & Backpackers Pub where we immediately spotted the reception; it was located inside a brightly painted Volkswagen bus – however this wasn’t the buses’ sole purpose. Somehow this hostel squeezed in their entire bar into this VW bus as well as plenty of beer on tap coming out of the vehicle’s side walls. In hostel circles, I think this particular hostel falls into the legendary status.
Finding no suitable room here we were referred to their sister hostel around the block – the Naughty Squirrel. Soon we were enjoying complimentary shots of the powerful Latvian drink Black Balsam (an herbal liqueur with vodka). A young group of individuals from Malaysia were cooking something wonderful smelling in the kitchen – we thanked them in a serious manner for cooking food for us as well. They didn’t realize we were kidding and initially didn’t know how to answer us.
Looking to bond with nature we took a side trip out to Sigulda the next day. This small town is busy in the winter with various activities including skiing and bobsledding. We walked around chilled to the bone for a while until we reached the visitor’s center where they hooked us up with a nearby home-stay.
An elderly couple greeted us at their gate on the side of a dirt road. They didn’t speak any English but they seemed happy to see us. Afterwards it was a visit to the train station where a heavy metal band was performing for … only empty air … and me. At the historic castle we experienced a “Medieval Throwback” and learned how to shoot arrows, throw spears and sharp axes. I proudly hit a photo of a deer in the head with the arrow – pummeled a large piece of wood with the ax and didn’t really ever get the hang of throwing the large heavy spears.
I first saw a “floating human” at Universal Studios iFly on the CityWalk in Los Angeles. That person was flying indoors. Here, in preparation for an upcoming concert in the castle courtyard, performers were practicing hovering and doing acrobatics over a high powered fan. Some were shooting into the air great distances above the ground.
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