Friday, June 15, 2012
BE 3000: latvia
Can't really sit around stewing in our own juices; hangovers are for pussies.
Put on some raaally dark glasses, and set to look at some Art Nouveau buildings.
See, everything in life is about balance. Last night we were drunk, disorderly and amazing, having arguably the best night of 2012 so far, and today we will balance out this out with some cultural architecture viewage.
Jaeger intake, building intake. Balance restored.
Riga has the highest density of Art Nouveau* buildings in Europe. True story.
Basically an area in the city consisting of the most intricately detailed buildings with loads of scary faces and gargoyles sticking out of them.
Love a scary face, do these guys.
We are so similar, in our views and everything else (what other 30sometings do you know travel around amazingly obscure countries together because they think it's fucking AWESOME?)
Most restaurants here spill out onto the cobbles, or otherwise deliver downstairs into this wonderful dungeony type cryp. Great for hangovers. We found an Italian place, and when you went to the loo, there was this delightful 'How to learn Italian in ten easy steps!' shit coming out of a speaker from behind the can.
Also how people put the English language together is very endearing. People no speaky the good English, so it's always great to hear a waitress ask, "do you want bread with your soap?"
I like Latvia. Riga is definitely grittier than Tallinn. Buildings are being pulled down in lots of streets, leaving flapping wallpaper on the outside walls, where you can guess which room is which, like a puzzle. The energy is palpable, it's a large city regenerating itself. Tallinn feels like a small medieval village in comparison.
People I know who have gone to Riga said they preferred the other Baltic cities, but I don't agree. While it's more raw and grimier than the other places, it also feels more real and has a bit of an edge.
Love a bit of an edge.
The currency is strong, and the so are the people. They would have to be. After what we saw at the Latvian Occupation Museum. I'll keep this brief, but you'll have to take my word for it that it was fairly shocking.
Most countries in Europe have undergone a fair amount of shit concerning the Holocaust, the Cold War, maybe some enraged Viking action, two world wars, that kind of thing.
The Baltic states basically haven't a break since the last twenty years. They have been owned - PWNED - by other countries. And have basically been at their mercy since the beginning of time.
Owned by Russia twice, and had all their Jews killed. Now that the Latvians (and this goes for Lithuania and Estonia too) have independence and are part of the EU, two things are happening:
1) They don't know what to do with themselves
2) They're a bit sketchy on tourists, because any tourist has basically fucked them over in the past
So there's this identity forming out of being fucked from every side. And now that EasyJet flies to these places and the gates have been opened, I'm telling you, people are going to flood here.
They already are. We've found a good thing, hopefully before it becomes the next Prague.
* Art Nouveau explained here.