Tuesday, July 29, 2014

DAY 42 – 27 July 2014; Tallinn to Riga


The Hotel Viimsi Spa has many pools, saunas and treatment centres. Many rooms are occupied by those coming to the seaside Spa for treatment. The Spa is also used by short term visitors to the city for experiencing the numerous treatments on offer. I rued the fact that we did not have enough time to enjoy at least what was on offer along with reservation of the room. It was time to leave for the next country, the 9th in the itinerary.
Breakfast consisted mainly of melons and cold cuts. The check out formality was restricted to collecting the invoice; payment was done upon check in. The taxi driver who had taken us to the Old City last evening had given me directions of how to get out of Tallinn and take the road to Parnu. With that under my belt and brilliantly sign posted instructions I did not find it difficult at all to get to the highway. It being a Sunday the roads were virtually empty and driving was easy. The border town of Ikla, on the Estonian side, was only 200 kms from Tallinn. There were no border checks as we were moving from one Schengen State to another. The roads on the Latvian side seemed a bit broken down and we thought that would last till Riga. But, fortunately, within about 25 kms the condition improved and we motored along smoothly till we reached the outskirts of Riga. I did not have Navigation equipment and therefore, stopped at a shopping complex to ask for directions. With that I moved some more into the city. Lal and I witnessed a miraculous sight as we were driving through Bergi – that of a statue of Our Lady with The Child being raised out of a box, as if for us to be blessed! The next instructor was very helpful and piloted us to what he felt was the street on which the hotel was located. He could not speak English but was vigorous with his arms and feet! I tried a departmental store where the young girl asked me to get Google Maps if I wanted to find the hotel! Then I hired a taxi to pilot us to the Hotel. The driver certainly overcharged but did get me to the hotel without any further hiccups.

The Maritim Park Hotel was extremely busy at the time of check in. tourist groups seemed to patronise the hotel quite well. The rate of Euro 70 for a double room is what I paid, inclusive of breakfast. The lady completing the formalities said that she was upgrading to a larger room! The room on the 6th floor gave me a good view of the car park from where I could keep a lookout for the car. After keeping luggage in the room we headed to the restaurant; the buffet was closed and hence, we went in for the a la carte. We ordered Salmon and Club sandwiches with fries. The large portions were difficult to finish. After getting through that we decided on a short rest before venturing out to the Old City, which seemed not too far from the hotel.
We tried to get a taxi to the Old City, in vain. So we decided to foot it, a walk of 2 kms across the
Daugava River. En route we enjoyed views of the verdant greens, the Railway History Museum and the National Library. Three major bridges span the River into the Old city – the Dzelzceja tilts, which is a railway bridge, the Akmens tilts, over which we walked and the modern Vansu tilts. Immediately on getting off the Akmens tilts we saw the Museum of the occupation of Latvia, the beautiful Blackheads House (the guild of merchants-to-be) and the St. Peter’s church (the oldest church in Riga). There are innumerable restaurants and café bars, most of them looked extremely well patronised. The smell of Latvian food and the froth of Lacplesis beer played havoc with the senses. We walked through to the Doms Square and the rest of the Old City. The area around the Old City was built between 1860 and 1910 and resembled the Western European cities of Paris, Berlin and Rome. This provided the backdrop for many Russian films. The Triangula Bastion is a modern building that is built on the fragments of the old fortification that protected Riga from warships. A short walk away from the Doms Square is the Three Brothers building, which is among the oldest living quarter in Riga.

The Daugava River is among the longest in Europe spanning Russia to Latvia. It has a crucial hydroelectric project across it. The River is majestic in Riga. After a visit to the Anglican Church on the embankment of the River we took a small stroll along the river. We had little else on our mind to do. Therefore, we got interested in the boat ride advertised on one of the landing sites beside the river. There was almost a half hour to go for the announced time. We decided to get in and sample some local beer. While ordering the beer I met Suraj Bhatia, who hailed from Mumbai and is married to a Latvian and is a proud parent of Christina and Adrian. He is in the construction business in many European cities and is actively involved in the BSE too, which takes him to India quite often. The boat ride did not have a commentary but did give us a good view of the city, both old and new, while affording the opportunity to interact with Suraj and his family and a mathematics professor and his wife from Zurich.
We walked back to the hotel after the one hour boat ride through a few parks and residential areas. Dinner was in the hotel restaurant comprising of beers and steaks. Sleep caught up only after I had completed the documentation and accounts for the day.

2 comments:

  1. I am not sure if I read it wrong , you are travelling without a GPS/ Navigation , you will be wasting lot of time asking for directions , Gps is fairly inexpensive , you should get a good Garmin one for euro 100

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  2. Thanks. Yes I did get one, gifted by a concerned friend like you in Warsaw!

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