My explorations around Riga didn’t take very long. It’s a nice old town, but not a lot to see. Still, I wandered through the streets all over the place, and not just in the old town but around the more modern parts of the city as well. I spent a lot of time in the (free) Museum of Occupation, which, as the name implies, is about the Nazi and Soviet occupations of the Baltic countries. There was a lot of information to take in, and some cool displays, such as original items that prisoners had made in the gulags/work camps, weapons found, official orders, and phone taps to name a few. When I got out of the museum, it started to rain. So I wandered around a bit and found another free museum, the Latvian Military History museum that I went in mostly to get out of the rain. It was all in Latvian, and while there were some binders of information you could take around with you that were written in English I just had no desire to read that much after spending so much time in the Occupation museum. I looked in some churches that were free, but really I don’t have much to report on Riga (which is not to say I didn’t enjoy it, just not a lot there). I didn’t bother going out that night either because the weather had gotten so terrible. But I think an evening of doing nothing was good for me since I’ve been going hard for over 6 weeks now! And I had to get up somewhat early to catch my bus to Tallinn.
The weather was terrible while I was on the bus, but I’d rather it be that way than terrible when I got into Tallinn. The bus ride was uneventful, except for one passport check where I don’t think the custom’s guy believed the photo was me (he didn’t say anything, but compared every detail on my passport to those on my titre de sejour) but it was fairly uncomfortable. I had to sit next to this fat guy who took up more than one seat, so he was partially on mine and I just had no room. At any rate, I got into Tallinn in the early afternoon and then I was off exploring. I was excited to get out and move around after being on the bus and I had heard that Tallinn’s old town is really nice. Well, that’s no joke; I think Tallinn has one of the nicest old towns I’ve seen! Unfortunately I forgot my camera, but when I go out today I’ll get some photos. I wandered through all the streets in the old town, checking out some of the sights and some of the panoramic views. I think my favorite bits, though, were the little streets with nothing on them. They’re small and colorful and just really pretty. I went into some cathedrals and churches, most of which were a lot more impressive from the outside. In the town center there was a market set up selling different handicrafts so I wandered through that for a bit. You could tell it was set up for tourists because all the vendors were in traditional costumes. There were a couple of cool courtyard-type streets, one of which had really old tombstones on the wall. All in all my wanderings were very pleasant and I can’t really put it into words. Y’all will just have to wait for the photos! When I was done wandering I went to a café in the town center that my Lonely Planet suggested and says it can make people never want to go to Starbucks again. That’s not too hard for me, I think Starbucks coffee is kind of crap to be honest, but I do love a good cup of coffee. The verdict: not the best I’ve ever had but still really tasty, tastier and cheaper than some of the cafés I’ve been to in France.
In the evening I met up with Sven and his friends – all Estonian’s living in Tallinn. We had an excellent night hanging out listening to music, I tried some dark Estonian beers, and we watched some videos on YouTube. That, and they showed me a hilariously crude TV show that I had never seen or heard of called Testees about two guys who are human guinea pigs for a company trying out different chemicals. Check it out!
That’s all for now. Not sure what my plans are today – probably an art museum and then snapping some photos in old town. Tomorrow morning I head to Helsinki! Next update soon? Hopefully.