I Heart My City: Martins’s Riga

Martins Veidemanis has lived in Riga for close to two decades. He fell in love with the city because of the architecture, its unique “vibe,” and the memories he’s shared there with his wife. Here are a few of Martins’s favorite things about the Latvian capital.

Follow Martins on Twitter @liimiite and see more of his insider tips on Spotted By Locals Riga.

Riga is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is on a nice walk via the Quiet Center to see those fantastic Art Nouveau apartment buildings and to taste a glass of Riga Black Balsam.

My city’s best museum is the Latvian National Museum of Art because of its fantastic collection of Latvian artists. (I also met my wife there.)

A pint of Riga Black Balsam (Photograph by Dave Cross, Flickr)

A pint of Riga Black Balsam (Photograph by Dave Cross, Flickr)

Pop Up Store at Kaļķu Street 3 is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

You can see my city best from the Latvian Academy of Sciences viewing platform.

Locals know to skip some parts of Old Town and check out Riga Creative Quarters instead.

In the past, notable people like Richard Wagner, Philippe Halsman, and Mikhail Baryshnikov have called my city home.

Late spring is the best time to visit my city because the days are longer, the parks are blooming, and the city is smiling.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is the park at Lucavsala.

My city really knows how to celebrate the Song and Dance Festival. Even the people on trams sing.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they’re speaking Latvian and wearing the RIGA shirt.

The goods on offer at the Riga Central Market (Photograph by Clark & Kim Kays, Flickr)

The goods on offer at the Riga Central Market (Photograph by Clark & Kim Kays, Flickr)

For a fancy night out, I go to the New Riga Theatre to enjoy a good play and afterwards I like to have a glass of wine in the Theater Bar restaurant hidden in a backyard just around the corner.

Just outside my city, you can visit Jūrmala and Sigulda.

My city is known for being full of beautiful architecture and having a lovely Old Town, but it’s really more than that, with many young and creative minds making Riga a fantastic place to be.

The best outdoor market in my city is Riga Central Market, which is also the largest we have here in Riga. It’s amazing how rich the assortment is that one can find there.

Innocent Café is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and LuLu Pica is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the Live Riga events page.

My city’s biggest sports event are Dinamo Riga ice hockey games. Watch them at Arena Riga.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I wander the streets searching for inspiration — tiny things like forgotten shop names painted on a wrecked house, or a chestnut tree full of blossoms bending by the side of the road, or a bush full of sparrows singing so loudly and happily.

A puddle reflects Jacob's Barracks, a collection of shops and eateries in Vecrīga, or Old Riga.  (Photo by wund3rkind, Flickr)

A puddle reflects Jacob’s Barracks, a collection of shops and eateries in Vecrīga, or Old Riga. (Photo by wund3rkind, Flickr)

To escape the crowds, I like to take a long walk in Ķīpsala, a quiet place away from the city center with fantastic wooden houses and one very special roof.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Audrey Tautou because both are charming, a bit mysterious, and beautiful.

The dish that represents my city best is Cake Vecrīga (named after the Latvian term for Old Town), which you can get at Cafe Vecrīga, and Clavis Riga is my city’s signature drink, which is best tried at the Flying Frog Cafe, the place where it was created.

Splendid Palace is my favorite building in town because of the fantastic movies they show and because of the great architecture.

The Palladium concert hall is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Space Dog.

The Song and Dance Festival, with many thousands singing and dancing everywhere, could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should fall in love again or for the first time.

Performers at the Song and Dance Festival (Photograph by Donald Judge, Flickr)

Performers at the Song and Dance Festival (Photograph by Donald Judge, Flickr)

In the summer you should hang out in one of many beer gardens and taste quality Latvian beer like Valmiermuiža.

In the fall you should check out some of the many events that are going on – White Night, Survival Kit, and Latvia’s Independence Day — and celebrate with the locals.

In the winter you should warm yourself with a glass of hot Riga Black Balsam and make a snowman.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss Lucavsalas Park.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s terrible to get around when the weather is nasty – snow could fall from the roofs and streets could be flooded because of heavy rain.

The best book about my city is poetry by Aleksandrs Čaks. Check out the museum dedicated to his life and work while you’re in Riga.

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because Riga has so much to offer: parks and gardens, fancy clubs and classy pubs, rich history, modern thinking, creativity, passion, and freedom.

Comments

  1. oggy
    London
    October 3, 2013, 10:13 am

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