Exploring a new city is always a fascinating experience, and a very educating one at the same time. Whenever I visit a new place I am perplexed and humbled at how little I know about this world, and how diverse the lifestyles, cultures and languages are on this planet. Every city has a different feel to it and a new story to narrate through its infrastructure, landscape and people.
I went through the same series of emotions last week when I visited the beautiful city of Riga. It is the capital of Latvia, located in Eastern Europe. The stay in Riga was part of an electrifying and fun-filled event called the ESN sea battle, the details of which I would reserve for some other article of mine. We were a group of five people, and were very luck to know a local person, through a mutual friend. His company added more flavour to the city tour as he revealed many different facts about the city while we strolled through the streets.
The tour began with a walk through the main boulevard of the city that is house to many different embassies. We treated our eyes to some wonderful, subtle architectural beauty as all the buildings along that road, had breath-taking designs on their elevations and stood testament to the finesse of the skills of the workers and engineers who constructed them. The sun shine lifted our moods even more as we progressed through the streets towards our next destination.
We stopped at a traditional, local restaurant named Lido. As expected the variety of food was something that I had never heard or seen before. There were over 30 dishes to choose from, including different types of pancakes, kebab, different variations of fried chicken and much more. I am not surprised that now, I have lost count of the dishes and cannot recall the names of most of them, but it was certainly a dining experience I would cherish for long because of the taste, superior quality of food and environment that the restaurant provided.
We then continued our journey and headed towards the old part of the city, where buildings as old as 350 years are still preserved and kept in perfect state. We came across the monument of independence, which was graced by two alert guards; it instantly takes your mind back to the guard of the royal palace in England. The square, in which the monument stands, is closed for traffic and reserved for pedestrians only, allowing us ample time to watch the change of guard at the monument.
The classical narrow European style streets laced with aging yet timeless buildings, were the most attractive feature of the old city. We moved on to one of the oldest churches in Latvia, which also happens to the highest church in the Baltic States. The church was built in 1491 and was destroyed twice, in 1666 and later in 1721. Today this church is one of the most attractive tourist spots in Riga. We took the elevator to the top of the church, from where we enjoyed birds-eye view of the entire city. That moment was sensational and memorable; when you observe new and old features of a city in just one look, it feels like a treasure chest of knowledge is lying in front of you, and your mind can’t help but sketch images of how the city would have looked like and evolved over the years.
Our tour ended, with a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop where we sat reflecting on our mesmerizing day. We then bid farewell to our kind and gracious host, who was courteous enough to walk with us to the harbour and see us off. I would always be grateful to him, for turning what would have been an ordinary tiring walk in an unknown territory to an experience of a lifetime.
Photos by Andres Cuaran