Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Riga - The Paris of the Baltic

Boat cruises across the Baltic Sea depart from Stockholm every day, carrying passengers to exotic destinations like Helsinki or Riga. Most of these passengers don't really care where they're headed, and in all likelihood, won't even get off the ship until it's back in Stockholm. They're more interested in the tax-free drinking on board that earns these trips their rightful name: 'booze cruz.'

This is not to say our expectations were were far from these passengers' when our gang of 11 embarked on a trip to Latvia's capital city, Riga. However, I did care to see something of this city I didn't know existed before now, maybe get another stamp in my passport. And experience one of the infamous Baltic cruises I'd heard so much about.

I've never been on an overnight cruise like this to my knowledge, on a boat with 10 levels, multiple restaurants, swimming pool, sauna, movie theatre. It was all new and exciting... until I got on the boat and realized we'd signed ourselves up for probably the oldest vessel in the Tallink fleet. No matter, there were enough of us to make our own fun. And we did.

I can honestly say we dominated the karaoke, hands down. The word dominate is open to interpretation, but it can't be argued that we were the most musically active group in the bar by far. Wannabe, Gansta's Paradise, Killing Me Softly - you name it, we covered the spectrum.  

Upon our 11am arrival in Riga after 17 hours at sea, we set off and explored the city to the fullest extent possible in a 6-hour window, starting at the Finnish-owned Hesburger, of course, to eat away our hangovers. Special mayo, good burgers. Although I have to say I like Sweden's Max slightly more. 

We spent the next 4 hours wandering down Riga's narrow, cobblestone streets lined with beautiful buildings, apparently of German Art Nouveau architecture (according to Wiki). Small markets sold countless pairs of elaborately decorated, hand-knit socks and all the amber jewelry you can imagine. 

After a mediocre meal at an incredibly authentic Medieval restaurant in an old wine cellar, we headed back to the boat for our return journey and round II of karaoke of course. Then onward to the late-night disco. Perhaps it was the rocking of the ship, but I've never had more fun dancing. And I was never as happy as I was the next morning to get off a boat.


  1. Thanks for the entertaining description of the 'booze cruz'. I am glad to know that you can make your own fun, wherever you go! PS As far as I know, you have not been on a ship like that.

  2. Glad you enjoyed it :) It was definitely an experience to remember!