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After looking long and hard for some place to organise a reunion we stumbled across Riga. The Ryanair flights out of Stansted only cost £70 return even including Gordon Browns new tax. So Riga it was, we pre-organised accomodation at Argonaut Hostel in town and took the bus from the airport to the city centre (only 0.30Lt).
The currency conversion to £'s is relatively simple as it is almost a 1:1 conversion. Although due to the strength of the pound in the rest of the world you find many Lts floating out of your pocket without even noticing.
One of the first things you do notice however is how cold it really is there. The two rivers flowing through the centre of town were both completely frozen over when we arrived. The temperature had been as low as minus20degC on the nights.
The friendly staff at the hostel (American/Latvian) arranged numerous activities for the guests (bobsleigh from feb onwards, go-kart, prison trips and tank driving). We opted for the shooting option and were swiftly taken to a Soviet nuclear fallout bunker in the new town area of Riga. Down some steps into the bunker and signed a form which waived them not responsible for any fatalities and were taken into a range offf to the side.
We were handed a Glock to begin with then an AK47, a pump action shotgun and a spass. Shooting at around a 20m range at targets on the back wall. There wasn't a lot of safety involved here but apparantly it is all above board and the range has a liscence. All this for £45!
Like Prague and other eastern european cities if you travel with the locals etc it costs a lot less. Make sure you barter with Taxi drivers and dont pay anything over a couple of lats for a short journey.
The best place to drink in town although very touristy has to be Skyline a trendy bar at the top floor of a hotel in town giving awesome views over the city it costs around £2 for a beer in here.
Essential is a massive nightclub next to skyline and has a huge reputation across north eastern europe. Fully warranted as well on Saturday night we stayed until 6am (some 2 hours before closing) and had an awesome time. Do be careful with buying drinks etc the staff are known to short change. Dont expect to see the rest after you complain either. It's not worth going out on a Sunday night you will be drinking alone. Friday and saturday are the only nights worth bothering with.
The side of Riga that has been advertised more especially on BBC radio 1 is the strip clubs etc, not the nightclubs. The strip clubs here and the casinos are owned by the russian mafia who wont go out of their way to make you welcome. One scam involved sending a dancer to your table to make conversation, she will then ask if you will buy her a drink and she then announces that the drinks cost 1000Lt etc. As you try and make your escape some large russians will blcok your way promptly march you to an atm and then go about giving you a good kicking. We met plenty of people out there who this had happened to.
However if you are on a lads weekend keep your wits about you and you should be ok. Make sure you confirm the price of anything before you buy it and if you buy drinks for girls make sure you buy the drink from the bar and give it to her.
Don't let this put you off what is an awesome weekend away!
During daytime there is plenty to see. We went to the museum and read up a little bit on the difficult struggle Latvia has faced in the last century.
One final thought, cigarettes and alcohol are cheap from the airport and genuine but when we were there the range of cigarettes was very limited.
Enjoyed your review as it awoke my nightmares of Riga.
Definately will not recomend this unfriendly overpriced city to anyone.
There is a distinct hatred for UK tourists and unfortunately it is the stag and hen nights that are bringing in a tourist industry that they are trying to drive out. Very bland boring city with not much to offer besides overpriced pubs.