I woke up at 8am despite it being 6am at home, got up lazily and went for breakfast. I’m not going to any other morning because I can’t eat enough breakfast to make it worthwhile but on the first morning in a strange city when you don’t know where the shops are yet, you haven’t eaten anything substantial in 24 hours and you have nothing in the room to drink, you have to do it.
It was a good breakfast! They had everything imaginable – oranges you dropped in a juicer, morning Marys (no sign of vodka but all the sauces & vegetables to drop in the tomato juice), bread of all shapes, sizes and colours, fruit, vegetables, cheese, fish, traditional Latvian foods, muesli, porridge, four kinds of jam, toast… so much food. So good breakfast. Wow. I piled my plate with little bread rolls, failed to spot the miniature glasses next to the juices (they’re see-through!) and made do with a coffee cup instead. And then I found the little croissants so I had one of them too, with the brightest red raspberry jam I’ve ever eaten. And when I got upstairs – you’ll never guess what. Somehow four rolls & three packs of butter had fallen into my bag. Well, that would do nicely for lunch.
I’d sort of planned to go to Sigulda today but the station was harder to find than I’d expected, considering I thought all trams from the National Library (my local stop) stopped there. Instead I ended up at the Central Market which I thought was housed in the old station – but no, those arched buildings are converted zeppelin hangers. I walked up to the station, which wasn’t quite where it seemed on Google Maps last week. I got on a trolley bus – just a random bus which dumped me off at the university. I spied a nice gold onion-domed church (which turned out to be the Cathedral of the Nativity) and a nice park (the Esplanade) and then I spied a tower I recognised from the inflight magazine – the Freedom Monument. And I recognised its Modern architectural style – because it looks just like Helsinki Central Station. Now I could finally find myself on my map. I was beside the City Park, which is so pretty.
There were little wooden boats on the canal in the middle of the park so I went for a ride. The canal is actually the remains of the moat around the medieval walled city. We sailed east as far as the Opera House, then west, through the park, through the city and onto the river. It had got cold. The mouth of the river is less than twenty miles away and the Baltic, which it opens onto, is famously cold. A mist had descended. I gave in and got a blanket. I’d been wondering why there was a pile of blankets and now I knew. We got as far east down the river as the National Library before we turned back. It’s supposed to be a loop. I don’t know what’s on the canal between the Opera House and the National Library that we couldn’t go up there. It soon got warmer back on the canal.
I went home for lunch – having first walked all the way back to the Central Market, which was the only place I could find a tram stop in the right direction.
After lunch it was sightseeing time in the Old Town. It’s a bit of a warren – I went round in circles a few times, missed the House of the Blackheads twice and when I did eventually find it, most of it was under scaffolding! The town is also, unsurprisingly, packed with amber shops.
When it started to get dark I went to the station, where I’d spied a supermarket earlier and with my arms full, I got on a bendy bus to go home. It was too early really but it was dark, I was too hot, I’d crossed off a dozen Important Sights To See and I wasn’t going to see much more in the dark.
Back home I looked up those important train times for my trip to Sigulda tomorrow – as long as it’s not pouring with rain.