I got my first home computer, an MSX, for Christmas 1983. Boasting a whopping 64 KB of hard drive memory, it was double the memory capacity of similar computers that my friends had. In those innocent pre-internet days such a hard drive memory was effectively limited to playing early video games. One of my favourites was Boulder Dash. Unlike a lot of today’s games, which require a month spent reading a bible sized instruction manual before playing, Boulder Dash was pretty simple. There were four controls on a 2 dimensional screen, up, down, left and right. The basic idea was to roam around a maze, finding jewels, while avoiding getting hit on the head by rocks. Maybe it was the name that put it in my head as I made preparations for the next outing to Bolderāja, but I also saw similarities: walking round an unknown area, trying to find hidden gems in the shape of decent bars, while avoiding being hit on the head by rocks. Bolderāja has a dodgy reputation (areas of Riga with lots of Russians tend to have such reputations among local Latvians.) It’s also, by my estimate, the most Russian area of Riga.
My usual partner in crime Eddie was missing in action in Kaunas. Volunteering to fill the void was Linda of the Expat Eye on Latvia blog: another Irelander blogging about Riga! As Expat eye has justifiably been chosen as the best expat blog on Riga, this meant I would be meeting blogging royalty. This raised questions of etiquette: should I bow when meeting her? Ask for an autograph? In the end I happened to be fashionably late at the bus stop, despite dashing there and acrobatically vaulting over a railing.
The road there passed the Spilve aerodrome, a vast empty nothingness that reminded me of trips through the steppe in Kazakhstan.
Arriving in Bolderāja, I really had to wonder what all the fuss was about. There were no guys with kalishnikovs standing at the roadside. No knife wielding thugs hanging around on street corners menacingly eyeing new arrivals. Boldie was stunningly ordinary.
If anything the standard of housing was a bit better than the god awful Soviet monstrosities you often find in the suburbs of Riga and other ex-USSR cities
Also, there was absolutely no problem finding a bar. After the experiences in places like Jaunciems, Vecdaugava etc, this time we were immediately confronted with not just one, but three bars! Woo hoo! We settled on Bar Diva. The name sounded a bit dodgy, but I reckoned if kidnap was on the agenda, Linda would probably make a better go go dancer than me. It was a fairly nice bar and even had a still functioning terrace. The youngish lass serving us even smiled and helpfully volunteered to “make” our photo (careful girl, that’s not in the job description!)
With that successfully completed, we decided to have a wander round, trying to get photos of the river. Finding the local yacht club, we sauntered in, pretending that we owned the place. It worked. Not a single overweight gold chained minder barred our way. We got a few worthy snapshots
Deciding that we might as well spoil ourselves, we headed to another Boldie bar, Rax, which also had an open and half decent terrace
It was time to hit the high road to Daugavgriva, this took us over the bridge where the Bulli river and Locu canal met
The island in the middle of these rivers is the charmingly named Mīlestības Sala. Love Island! Apparently this takes its name from older times, when soldiers based at the fortresses nearby would take their love interests there for nightly romps in the bushes. As a result, a lot of kids were conceived there and so the whole population of Boldie can probably find a “Sergei luvs Olga” carved by their grandparents in a tree there.
Daugavgrivas is a bit less lively than Boldie, but after a bit of a short wander, we found two cafes. The first, named paradize, seemed to have some kind of private event on. A bit later we found another one, which ticked all the boxes: garish interior design, tacky Russian sketch show blaring out, middle aged woman who last smiled in 1973, two draught beers on tap and a selection of pastries, probably still bearing a “This Made in USSR!” sticker on the wrapper.
The single unisex toilet was locked at all times (maybe toilet roll theft in these parts is on the increase?) After using that I found that Linda had got herself into bother with the middle aged couple at the nearby table for laughing and speaking instead of whispering. As she’s a visit all 58 districts virgin, this oversight was forgivable and Irish tourists in Daugavgriva are probably a protected species anyway, so we let the old cranky guy get on with his beer.
All that done, it was time for a final celebratory drink in Vecriga. Engaging in the Irish sing song tradition on the way back, we even gave a mini English lesson to a shy little Russian kid.
All in all, a jolly day out after the previous week’s disappointments. There’s more to Daugavgriva, including a fort and a beach, which beer priorities prevented us from seeing. As Ritabulli district is only reachable from Daugavgriva, I think a return visit at a later date to have the old guy crying into his beer may be in order.
Twelve districts done, forty six left.