Latvia: Leaving the Comfort Zone

That’s mainly what my trip before Russia is all about. Getting used to travelling alone and to meeting people, hitchhiking and coping on my own.
So when I got dropped off in Riga, Latvia I had no clue where to go. It was rather late, so I arranged a stay at a hostel and went out to explore the evening city. Already then I grew to like this Baltic metropolis with its river flowing through it, the dense old city and the many parks and recreational areas.

Riga at night

Riga at night
Next day: the free Old City Tour after a slow start; then a stroll along the riverside and a visit of the Latvian War Museum. A five story building, crammed with firearms, uniforms and bomb shells – unlike anything I have seen before! Unfortunately there were no English translations…
In the afternoon I spontaneously took the bus to the Latvian Ethnographical Open Air Museum which was well worth the half hour ride from the center: More than a hundred old Latvian buildings were scattered all over a huge area and I felt like I had travelled back in time when I, after walking through a lush forest for some time, stumbled upon a big farm where an old woman was tending the beautiful flowers in front of the main building. There were also several wooden churches, workshops, windmills and a fishing town, all well preserved and extremely cozy looking.
Back in the city I walked several more kilometers, from one interesting place to the next, and found another hostel for the night, where I had a long conversation with two other travelers. I guess that is nothing special, but it’s still the beginning of my trip and what will probably become normal is still new to me.

Academy of Sciences - Stalin Style
Leaving Riga early in the morning I am surprised at how much I had been able to see in just one and a have days and how well I had gotten to know this place. But sure, there would have been plenty of other things to explore for many more days…
Hitching a ride to Tallinn proved to be rather difficult that day – it took three cars and more than two hours of standing at the highway shoulder with trucks passing by at full speed before I finally arrived in the afternoon. But it was worth it: One guy who picked me up wanted to show me the real Latvia, so we took of onto a dirt road which we followed for many kilometers. We passed run down farms and also a few mansions, until we finally arrived at a place in the middle of nowhere that he had wanted to show me: the Red Cliffs. Really unexpected in this landscape of forests and fields there were indeed bright red sandstone cliffs lining a small river. After that excursion the nice Latvian product designer dropped me off at the Estonian border where I got picked up by an American entrepreneur soon afterwards.

Red Cliffs

Some photos from the museum:

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