It’s been two weeks since I moved to Riga, Latvia and some days it still feels like a dream. The place is mind-boggling gorgeous and almost defies description. Riga’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a medieval beauty filled with candy-colored buildings and a maze of narrow, winding lanes. Beer gardens are set up in the public squares and nearly every cafe and restaurant has space to dine al fresco. Music wafts on the Baltic breeze, with street performers on most corners and professional musicians entertaining the beer garden crowds.
Old Riga is bordered by the Daugava River and Kronvalda Park, both of which are lovely spots to take advantage of the endless summer sunshine. Follow the cobbled streets northeast and you’ll end up in the stunning Art Nouveau district, where one whimsically carved building is more impressive than the next.
The beauty of living here is that there is no rush. I don’t need to check off as many attractions as I can in a week. Rather, I can take my time and get to know my new city slowly, intimately. I’m working my way through the many cafes, trying to find my favorite. I’m learning how to shop for ingredients at the market and scouting out the local dry cleaners. I’m developing routines.
I’m also learning things about Riga that might escape the casual visitor: there are A LOT of seagulls in this city; cats aren’t just for building ornamentation; and a little Latvian will go a long way – even a simple “paldies” (thank you) is guaranteed to bring a smile. Also, the food is hearty, delicious and beautifully presented; wine tastes better when sipped on a patio in the shadow of an 800-year old castle; and the Northern European sun sets ridiculously late in summer. I’m sure I’ve learned more interesting things, but right now I’m still taking it all in and processing the fact that this is my new life and not a vacation with an end date.
I still have much to explore, but so far I’m smitten with my new home! Would you enjoy living in Riga? What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever lived?