Monday, 30 July 2007

dispatch: Riga


Riga is the stag party capital of Eastern Europe, so I am told. I didn't quite believe it until in McDonalds just now (we shall avoid the shame that is the fact that I ate in McDonalds) there were 20 full grown men wearing numbered shirts with nicknames printed on the back, things like Acorn and Sputnik or The Daddy (do you have to take the appropriate parent on such pre-wedding adventures? Terrifying thought). Should be interesting to see what the bars are like tonight.

On a slightly similar note, Eastern European men are so much less sleazy than their Western counterparts. Think of the number of times, girls (oh shit, political correctness and a creeping sense of amusement demands me to include you boys in this as well) you've been chased down the street by a pizza-greased Italian (stereotype? Me?). None of that here. That, or I look so much like a tramp these days they just don't bother with me.

Talking of tramps (this flows rather nicely today, though I haven't told you anything about Riga itself) the women here, oh God. Amazing. I wrote this in my notebook (yes, I carry a notebook, Hi, I'm Rachel, I'm a total loser, also I use too many brackets) last night while sat in the central square:

Young people in the Baltic States like to wear socks with sandals. WHY.
Also, women are orange.
Also, they like matching tie dye suits.
And high heels.
Day and night.

The streets in the Baltic State old towns are generally cobbled and represent a challenge to me in my Converse, so God knows how the Fake Baked beauties (word used in the sweepingest of sweeping ideas) don't break their ankles daily. It's quite fascinating to watch them hobble, fake Chanel sunglasses perched on bleached blonde hair, over plucked-to-oblivion-and-redrawn-in-black eyebrows, around stunning Old Town Riga.

Riga itself. Yes, it's gorgeous. Apart from the bit where we are staying, where outside our hotel three drunk people sit huddled on a broken bench all day. It's the Russian quarter, apparently. I'm not sure whether the German meant the bench, or the streets in general. The Art Nouveau district is a treat, totally different to most Baltic buildings and well worth a visit. Riga market is truly hellish, though the setting is great; five enormous hangers that they intended to use for Zeppelins, but, well, never really got round to. The parks are frustrating, because you can't walk on the grass. Why bother having them? Very odd. The romantic bit of me that is twisted somewhere in my stomach was delighted by the padlocks on the bridge, though, inscribed with lovers' names and the date they were placed there. Quite sweetly naff.

We have been to a ton of churches, and also the Ethnography Museum, which I'm not quite sure I understand as Ethnography to me is not something that can be quite defined in traditional museum terms. I'll leave the Archaeology out of this, though.

Shit, this is long, again. Apologies. On a finishing note, have a few more bits from my notebook, most of which sprung from God knows where in my brain:


Sarah is being attacked by killer pigeons.

Swiss people don't get engaged.

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