A Travellerspoint blog

Day 12

Riga

overcast 5 °C

The main problem with Riga is that it isn’t Tallinn, and having visited Tallinn first, Riga just doesn’t feel as good to me. The city is really big and very crowded...so everywhere you go you feels as if you are surrounded : Now this doesn’t bother me too much, but if you really hate being amongst a lot of people, then you really moan...and he did! However, there’s plenty to see so we managed another 7+ miles of walking ( plus a tram ride) in the course of the day.
First, though, we decided to locate the main rail station ready for Friday ...and after a lot of searching and confusion, finally found it hidden under and behind a shopping mall. It was next to the huge market, so we wandered round that too. Pomegranates seem to be the thing to buy...every stall had huge boxes of very large ones that were being snapped up ( why? They taste weird to me...all those pips).
Freedom Monument

Freedom Monument


We walked on and saw the impressively large Freedom Monument then following the little canal visited the lovely Art Deco quarter with its deco and Jugendstil architecture. On our way, I was delighted to see a window display promoting my favourite writer...specifically the range of “Tiffany Aching” books.
Book display

Book display


Next we headed into the Old Town and enjoyed a bit of sunshine after a very grey day before braving a tram to return to the hotel...which although big, in spite of first impressions is quite luxurious and very comfortable. Because some of the Old Town is reconstruction, it is difficult to tell the very old from the more recent. However it is quite colourful and vibrant.
88B16409-10F2-4E39-8596-DDF0E3811F21.jpeg
It will be interesting to see how Vilnius compares but as it’s so difficult to reach by rail ( trains only at weekends!) first we go to Latvia’s second city, Daugavpils in order to get to Vilnius on Saturday..

Posted by nanny0gg 22:46 Archived in Latvia Comments (0)

Day 11

Tallinn to Riga

overcast 6 °C

Interesting travel today: We took the LuxeExpress coach from Tallinn to Riga and very good it was too...and a lot quicker than the train where we’d have had a 3 hour wait for a connection in Valga. The bus takes 4hrs 25mins ( and was early) and by upgrading to business class you get bigger seats with loads of legroom...plus free Wi-Fi, free tea and coffee and a good loo on board. Everyone also has an airline style screen to get music, games, films and internet too and in the business class we also got a free chocolate bar and bottle of water (Wow!). I’ve never liked coaches, but this seemed a better option than going by rail...and so it proved. It was interesting to see some of the countryside too. All in all a good way to travel.

In the bus

In the bus


First impression of Riga was that it looks poorer and more Soviet than Tallinn. This was reinforced on arrival at our 4* hotel, which although clean, comfortable and very luxurious in outward appearance if lobby area just looks a little bit run down compared with the Tallinn equivalent...a more utilitarian decor adds to the feel.
However, finding a charming restaurant nearby with great food and staff made a huge difference to the way I viewed the place. The beer was excellent too...but then most of them have been. When we started out we had a few nights when food was what we could get due to travel rather than having time to find a restaurant. On the Swiss run train into Hamburg, we opted for a beer with our meal as it was cheaper than anything else, so now it’s become our mission to drink the local beer where possible with our evening meal. We’ve had quite a variety so far. It seems like a good plan as we are more often in France or Spain where wine is the norm so this makes a change. I really liked the local Latvian brew last night as it was very rich and almost sweet with a nutty flavour.

Posted by nanny0gg 00:53 Archived in Latvia Comments (0)

Day 10

Tallinn

overcast 5 °C
View Anniversary expedition on nanny0gg's travel map.

I love Tallinn! People are so nice and English is spoken throughout...just as well as I can only manage “Thank you” in Estonian. As we are lucky enough to have a lovely shopping mall next to the hotel, I took myself off after breakfast for a visit there while Keith did whatever it is he does before we go off anywhere. I was able to find more blister plasters in the Apotheek then next door in “Flying Tiger”, more plain plasters and some gloves ( I forgot to pack them and it’s getting cold now): The gloves are specially made for use with smartphones so you don’t need to remove them to use the camera - very clever and very useful!
After some more browsing, I returned to collect Keith and we headed off to the Old Town. It is really lovely and while full of souvenir places, they are shops rather than stalls so do not detract from the old cobbled streets and churches. It was cold and wet at times - but that gave me an excuse to pop into the said souvenir shops on the eternal quest for fridge magnets for my collection ( note ...must by new magnetic memo board as the old one will be full after this trip!). Cat themes are everywhere on souvenirs...maybe it’s guilt from the time when the townsfolk threw live cats into a well to appease an evil spirit (😢😠) but the person I asked said it was because they had so many mice and rats at one time they welcomed cats to rid them of the rodents. Either way there are a lot of cat-decorated things to buy!
In spite of the grey weather, the colours of the houses in the Old Town are lovely and brighten up the greyest of days...
Town Hall Square

Town Hall Square


From the viewpoints, you get great views of both the old and new Tallinn...and Keith made a new friend when he found a piece of stale bread hiding in the bottom of a bag from a previous day
E06EDB10-02EC-4513-86A3-0B27C8B7E212.jpeg
I, on the other hand, rather like the Town Hall Draak...
Dragon waterspout

Dragon waterspout

Thankfully at some time during our walk, my sore feet finally returned to some semblance or normality as the blisters subsided...so in spite of clocking up another 6 miles of perambulation in the course of today, things are definitely better and I’m ready for the next phase of this super holiday.

Posted by nanny0gg 00:40 Archived in Estonia Comments (0)

Day 9

Helsinki to Tallinn

sunny 9 °C
View Anniversary expedition on nanny0gg's travel map.

Well we had to get up early so we could disembark in Helsinki at 0700...then waited with everyone else for an hour until they let us off (announcing at one point that the exit would close in 15 minutes...and there were still lots of people waiting) but at least the surly security people returned our travel kettle unharmed. The intense walking over the last week particularly since Copenhagen has caused me blister problems ++ so in spite of having the right plasters with me, I’ve been very sore, so rather than use the 5 hours between ferries to go back into Helsinki and wander, we strolled to the modern ferry terminal for the lovely modern Finnish boat for an afternoon crossing to Tallinn and settled down have a snack for breakfast and to use the Helsinki free Wi-Fi in the lovely new terminal building. It was great just to sit until the ferry arrived. We were even able to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.
Sunny Helsinki Harbour

Sunny Helsinki Harbour


After the previous ferry, the experience on the EkeröLine ferry was wonderfully efficient and easy and on reaching Tallinn it took minutes to disembark then a short walk to our lovely modern hotel near the port. I know it would be lovely to be in an old hostelry in the old town...but most have lots of stairs, no lifts and shared bathrooms- so modern and soulless wins hands down!

Posted by nanny0gg 07:35 Archived in Finland Comments (0)

Day 8

St.Petersburg revisited

semi-overcast 9 °C

We were up and moving in good time when the train arrived back in St.Petersburg after a great sleep from Moscow and warned this time that a second breakfast would be waiting, I chose some lovely porridge with berries ( followed inevitably by apple strudel). Because of our prompt departure we were rewarded by smiles and greetings from our compartment attendant this time. Our lovely Helena was waiting for us to take us for a traditional Russian breakfast of pancakes and omelette( separate dishes, not mixed) to get us started. We had a booked visit to the Hermitage for 11 so we started with a quick walk to see the Spilled Blood church nearby. Very pretty ( apart from the scaffolding).
Spilled Blood church

Spilled Blood church

Then on to the Winter Palace...passing a film set next to it but no idea what they were filming - by costumes, something set around 1914 was our guess. Then came our turn to enter the Winter Palace and Hermitage...it really is too much to take in the splendour of it all...even in 3 hours of heavy duty walking ( of my poor blistered feet) but not to be missed.
Peacock Clock

Peacock Clock


Keith is not a lover of art at the best of times so was feeling a bit art-lagged by the end, and I have to admit to being quite overwhelmed by the sheer amount of famous paintings on display by the end of it. We parted from our guide after finishing our Hermitage tour when she took us to our booked boat trip. It’s a great way of seeing the city as the river and canals seem to go everywhere. Boat trip done, we found our driver who took us back to the ferry terminal and sadly day went downhill from there!
First there was an enormous queue to check in ( so many students/young people of all nationalities...seem to travel for the overnight clubbing on board all these cruise ferries as some look very bad in the morning!). Next queue was to get through security to get out to the boat...once through, the next was a long open air queue to get to the gangway. No nice covered walkways or lifts like in Helsinki, although the same boat, the return seems more bleak than the outward travel. We had to manhandle our luggage up a lot of shaky steps to board ( like high tide in Stornoway before they got the new pier)...then to add insult to injury, the surly security guard spotted our travel Jetton the X-ray machine and insisted it be handed over to be returned on leaving the boat. We had some small complimentary bottles of Prosecco left from a previous ferry so made do with them instead of making a cuppa ourselves-so there! Then the cabin was cold and the thermostat didn’t work and there was no hand soap...it had all been ok on our way out on the same vessel. And so to bed...

Posted by nanny0gg 02:39 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 21) « Page 1 2 [3] 4 5 »