The fourth of May is when Latvia regained its independence, it was also when I made what will be my third last visit to Pardaugava as part of my districts wanderings. In a previous post, I mentioned how I’d ended up in Riga. Well, the truth is that, aside from a bearded Arab guy, a bearded Latvian guy had something to do with it. I met Didzis at the bar of Tim McShane’s Irish pub back in 2005 and, through him, started dating his cousin for the next 8 years. So when he phoned me up, suggesting that he and his wife Ieva join me on a districts outing, I was only too happy, as it seemed fitting to have him along.
Firstly he suggested that we do *all* the remaining districts, as they had a car. However, I explained to him that they weren’t meant to all be done at the one time. He’s a whiskey drinker like me, so I explained that half the fun was spinning it out.
We decided to do a couple of districts in Pardaugava, on the other side of the river. First up was one that is, by my reckoning, one of Riga’s most dangerous districts: Tornakalns. Located just across the bridges from the islands, it’s a bit of a weird one. A load of office buildings and industrial estates beside the river, with the Riga Plaza shopping centre beside the main road. If first impressions last, Tornakalns isn’t doing itself any favours.
The riverside parts are okay, but are spoiled by having a main road beside them. The rest of the district has a residential bit, that is nothing to write home about. Probably the main attractions here would be the memorials around Tornakalns station to people deported by the Soviets.
It mostly consists of a replica of the railcars used in 1941.
Outside the station, there are more monuments, consisting of large stones engraved with the names of the places where people were exiled to.
For me, the graffiti around the station was a bit more lively
With the weather iffy and the scenery to match, we were sorely in need of a drink. We finally found a place near Tornakalns station. Maybe, they’re trying to fit in with the depressing mood of the station memorials, it’s the ony reason I can think of for having a bar this bad
Having nothing else to do, we decided it was Beer O’Clock. When we were halfway across the road, we could already smell the subtle odours of urine. The place stank. Even though the day was only around +13, we decided that sitting outside would be a better move. Dashing in, we tried not to choke on the ammonium fumes and grabbed a couple of beers.
The inside of Kupcs didn’t look much better than the outside.
We sat outside, wondering why gas masks weren’t provided by the bar owners.
Drinking up fairly quickly, we headed on to the second district of the day, Šampēteris. We drove around identikit streets, then drove around some more, then drove… well you get the idea. Overall, it reminded me a bit of its neighbour Pleskodale, just without the woods, cafe and bowling hall, or for that matter, any interesting feature.
It’s green enough and is probably a nice place to live, but lacked anything of interest. After a bit, we started searching for a cafe, but couldn’t find one. In the end we found one on the outskirts.
Bars Karlis is a fairly average neighbourhood bar. Following the practice of lots of other ones, it puts “BARS” in huge letters then hides its name in small print.
The bar is practically in Zolitude, but lies on the boundary of Šampēteris, so that still counts. The scenery outside fulfils every stereotype of suburban neighbourhoods in post-Soviet countries.
Inside, it’s a pleasant enough affair, a few bar snacks and local beers, but unless you’re out this way, it’s hard to recommend it.
Finishing up, we headed to Bierinkrogs, now one of my favourite blog haunts for more food and entertainment. 48 done, 10 to go.