September 2013 010

The real Riga. What is it? For most visitors it’s the old town and a bit of Jugendstil if you’re pretending to be cultured and want to show your family that, no, you didn’t spend your entire holiday contemplating the bottom of a beer glass or how eastern Europe ain’t cheap any more. Having spent a good six years doing just that I thought it was time to see a bit more of Riga. To boldly go where tourists and most residents have never been before. Is Mežaparks really the best area of Riga? Is it possible to visit Bolderāja without getting your head kicked in by local urlas? Is Purvciems (swamp town) really as bad as the name? Do the 98 residents of Salas enjoy a thriving local bar scene? This blog is really an attempt to answer all those burning questions, through visiting all 58 districts, taking photos and having a drink in them. The original idea was to visit a bar in each of them, but despite having one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the world, neighbourhood bars are a bit thin on the ground outside the centre. So in some of them it will have to be photos on some random street, often (for security reasons) trying to blend in by looking like the local santimless bum rather than a tourist with a mad photo project.


18 thoughts on “Intro

  1. Love this project. Will be happy to tag along in a few of the more dangerous districts – having a chick with you might stop you from getting your head kicked in 😉 Although, actually, if I’m the girl, it might have the opposite effect!

  2. Great stuff, camera and colt 45 recommended! Haven’t worked out what the most dangerous districts are yet…. a lot of people say Maskavas Forstate but I’ve lived here 5 years without problems.

  3. Whoa, impressive! Here on a tip from EE 🙂 This is a pretty ambitious project, but then again, this IS Riga. Speaking of which…how does Riga have 58 districts to Moscow’s 12? For like 5 minutes I considered working on my own ‘all districts of Moscow’ challenge, but then I remembered that I dont like anything outside of #1 (the Center). Unless there’s an Irish pub. I might travel for an Irish pub 😉

    • Riga has 6 districts, split into 58 neighbourhoods, I guess it’s the neighbourhoods I’m doing. It has quite a few Irish pubs but none outside the three central regions, the Guinness doesn’t get so far from the centre. In fact Riga doesn’t have a lot of nightlife outside the centre, unless you count a local shop with a small table for the local alcos to stand round 🙂

    • Sounds like much more of a challenge than Riga, but at least Moscow’s districts are probably a reasonable size and have a metro station in most of them. Some of Riga’s neighbourhoods have less than 100 people spread across lake and woodland. Not looking forward to trudging through some of them in the snow.

  4. I’m a masochist at heart. A limited Moscow’s 12 districts thing would probably be cool. Some of them are probably far enough from the centre to be effectively self contained towns, right?

    • One of those 12 is THREE TIMES the size of Riga. Actually I just found some interesting and conflicting info. Accd. to one source, we have 146 raiony, but accd to another it’s only 125. Also the source that gives 146 says that there are also 148 self-contained towns spread out thru those 12 districts. As we say in Russian, my eyes are climbing up my forehead.

      • Yeah it’s like New York where the boroughs have over 2 and a half million people. Just looking at the Moscow neighbourhoods, one of them (Марьино) has over 200,000, that’s much bigger than any city in Latvia except Riga. Really I guess if you were doing that and living in Moscow, it would be a several years project, with a full night’s pub crawl devoted to each. In Riga half the challenge is actually finding a bar, in mini districts of around 100 people!

  5. Excellent ! As John’s occasional accomplice in this venture I’d just like to confirm the itiniery and congratulate him on a beautifully written text. Looking forward to more adventures in the ‘burbs !

  6. Great blog man, I’m really enjoying it! I’ve travelled to Latvia numerous times since meeting my fiance in 2009. I really want to see more of it like you are. I’m thinking of taking the CELTA in Riga, with the hope of finding teaching work, so my partner and I can relocate together. I read on Expat Eye’s blog that you did that. How did you find it? Do you have any advice or any stories relating to your initial relocation? Thanks for your time. Rob.

    • Thanks! Doing the CELTA here is a very good idea if you’re planning to work here after, as you can get to know the city and make contacts. Usually IH Satva, who run the course, make offers to teachers who pass. I found their offer to be on the low side, but it is a foot in the door. The bureaucracy isn’t so bad, in some ways easier than what I experienced in the UK, Spain or KZ. The only problem there is that at times, the middle aged women don’t speak English and are not that knowledgable about their job, so having a local to go with you is recommended. Clothes are generally more expensive here, especially winter ones, so buying them before you come is a good idea. Latvia has one of the fastest internet speeds in the world, so there’s a lot of stuff you can download online here, reducing the need to take it with you.

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