Riga, day 3

My bus for Vilnius wouldn’t leave until 3:30pm, so I had a good amount of time remaining in Riga to see a few more things. Per local Rigan Kristine’s recommendation, I went to Innocent Cafe for coffee and their brunch buffet (€6). The food was okay but not mind-blowing or necessarily a reflection of Latvian cuisine. I filled up on the available options anyway so that I could avoid having to eat lunch.

Yep, there's a brunch buffet. Brunch selections Lavazza black coffee

Kristine had found a massage studio near my hostel that was offering a Groupon-like deal on a one-hour massage, so I walked in to see if they’d honor the deal without me having to buy it online. It seemed deserted when I first walked in, but Andis found me wandering around and agreed to honor the deal in the afternoon before I had to catch my bus.

Satisfied with having secured an appointment, I started walking towards Ķīpsala, an island in the Daugava River once inhabited by fishermen but now the most expensive place to live in Riga now. I specifically wanted to visit to see the traditional Latvian wooden houses that weren’t burned down when Napolean was marching on Moscow.

But almost immediately on my left, I spotted a Laima location, so I walked in to check out what this place that built multiple clocks in Latvia was all about. They had a large selection of chocolate bars and candies, and you could even buy the candies in bulk if you didn’t want a whole bag. The problem was that the labels in the bulk section were all in Latvian, so I had to consult the bags for English translations. Even then, I ended up with one out of the two (Diana: black currant and apple jelly with milk chocolate coating) I tried being so sweet that I had to spit it out. The Serenade (apricot and hazelnut filling with milk chocolate coating) wasn’t bad though.

So many bar options Bad option Better option

More landmarks on the way to Ķīpsala included the Kobe Friendship Clock and the Vanšu Bridge, from which you have a nice view of the Riga Castle and Old Town.

An obelisk with multiple clock faces Cable-stayed bridge They love calling things castles in the Baltics.

Once on Ķīpsala, walk along the east bank to see the bulk of the traditional wooden Latvian houses that are remaining and in varying levels of maintenance. It was fun to compare the details between the houses and wonder about their individual histories.

Yellowish Mansion with basketball hoop on left Window shutters Diamond windows Lattice work Flowers in the window Weather vane Reddish Reminds me of Gandalf for some reason Flags Balcony For rent

A more modern development threatened the wooden houses with what they might turn into someday. (I hope that someday comes later than expected.)

Hipsters probably live here.

I then had to make my way back to the street where my hostel was for my massage appointment with Andis at Samana. It was only after I had undressed and gotten on the table that he explained that this wouldn’t be a traditional massage. He showed me a round pine cone that he’d rotate around and roll up and down my legs, arms, and torso. (I could definitely tell where I was ticklish while he was doing that.) Then he rolled a piece of amber over the same areas before applying massage oil. Finally, a prickly something was lightly tapped all over, I suppose to stimulate pressure points. What I did not feel comfortable with was after he had me face up, he not only gave me an abdominal massage, but he also massaged my breasts, which I did not think ever needed massaging since there are no muscles there. Not only that, but I didn’t feel like any knots were actually worked out in the process. Thanks to this experience, I can’t recommend this place. Too bad my last hour in Riga wasn’t the most positive. :disappointed_relieved:

Written on July 27, 2016