We made it to Riga. We took a bus from Vilnius to Riga. It turned out to be a great way to travel. Many of the short flights from country to country in this area are really restrict the amount of baggage you can bring. Even a standard-sized carry on is too big for many of the restrictions. Baggage on the bus is really no problem. The bus was definitely pretty luxe–reclining seats, video player on backs of the seats, bathroom on board. And tickets for all 5 of us were just $100 total. For the kids, it was a relaxing change of pace.
I had never been that excited about Riga for some reason. Most of what I read about the Baltic countries suggested that Vilnius, Lithuania and Tallin, Estonia are prettier and more fun to visit. I think they underestimate Riga. It is beautiful. It’s a port city–situated right on the coast of the Baltic Sea. In the older parts of the city, there is a consistent art-nouveau architectural style and it is really beautiful. You’ll see in the photos that one aspect of art-nouveau is incorporating sculpture into the architecture.
Another really cool thing about this city–it doesn’t appear to be very tourist-travelled. It may be in part due to the time of year–end of summer, school about to start–but all of the really beautiful old-town areas are quiet.
We also visited the large central market. Ashley got a bowl of pho end ended up sharing it with all the kids. Of course I had to try some strange smoked fish based on the recommendations of the women in front of me in the line at the smoked fish station. It turned out to be pretty stinky, but not too bad.
Jane and I rode rideshare electric scooters around town and Ashley and the other two took a boat tour on one of the canals in the city.
I have always wanted to visit the Baltic countries. They are less tourist travelled. The weather this time of year is cooler than in much of Europe; it has in fact been perfect every day since we got here. Travel is pretty inexpensive. Our apartments here range from $45 (Lithuania) to $70(Tallin) per night. Even in the city center in a small grocery store, groceries are priced about what they are at a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Utah. Meals in restaurants are pretty reasonable. We have taken a fair number of rides with Bolt–the popular ride sharing app. While we generally haven’t gone very far, those rides have been $4-7 depending on distance and time. All of these things make this area a good place to travel.
Our apartment here is much nicer than the one we had in Lithuania. Newly remodeled, pretty large, and everything sparkling clean. That helps with a favorable impression of the city, too.
We bought some melatonin at a pharmacy here and it has seemed to help all of us. Five days into our trip and our sleep schedules are starting to line up with the local time.
Home school is going better. Our secret 5 days into it is patience and lots of positive reinforcement. I hope the experiences our children have visiting all these places and being together all the time (hopefully this will mostly be a positive thing) will make up for our shortcomings in teaching ability.
Looking forward to another day here tomorrow.