I´m in a bar. The waiter answers simultaneously in latvian and russian languages. I recognize a group of german tourists. In a table, a french family discusses around a map. Tv is switched on to an american music channel. From time to time, my laptop is attacked by pop-ups in cyrillic. Outside, there are posters promoting something I don´t understand. Welcome to Riga!
I just arrived in Latvia and its capital will be my home to discover the Baltic countries in the following months. For a world citizen, my new expat experience is more than welcome. Necessary, I would say! And Riga seemed to me the perfect destination: from here, I can easily discover Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, but also Finland, Russia, Bielorussia (I will try…) and Poland.
Beautiful and quite mystical are my first impressions about Riga. Autumn brought charm and fits like a glove in the latvian capital: these days, a mist covers Daugava river at the dawn and both streets and parks are painted with yellow and auburn leaves. Night arrives early. As a matter of fact, days seem to shrink every day. I believe it´s due to the cold.
And speaking about cold, please allow me to desmystify something about people from Latvia: latvians are not cold, whenever I communicate with them I get a smile back and attention, I feel them very comprehensive, interested and empathic. To be honest, me and A. are pleasantly surprised and we are wondering if their behaviour will change when the days become darker.
After some days in Riga, I´ve discovered how latvians face the cold weather: walking with a coffee in the hands. In Portugal we have a similar tradition: every autumn you can find in the streets locals selling roasted chestnuts. Different habits with the same purpose: keep the hands warm.
In this bar I can´t find roasted chestnuts. But I will get a coffee. It´s cold outside and I still have a lot to discover in my new city. You´re more than welcome to come with me. Welcome to Riga!
‘Rigas Diena’ is a collection of 16 chronicles about my experience of living 9 months in Riga. Download it for free in a pdf that also includes a guide to make you get the best of the latvian capital.
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