Day 36, Riga, February 14th 2012

Tea 36:  Lemo Mate and Apple Ginger Explosion!, Kristine’s apartment, Riga

Happy Valentine’s Day!

So, today I decided I would have an indulgent day and go get myself something tasty to eat, no matter what the cost.  I had read about this little Hare-Krishna run vegetarian cafe so decided to seek it out.  Walking into the new part of town, North West from the apartment, the snow still falling and the hundreds of cars quickly turning it into dark brown slush, but the weather was much warmer today, I only needed one hat and one pair of gloves on for the first time in a couple of weeks!  Even now the temperature is only around -2’C!  Glorious!

I walked up into the new part of the city.  New meaning ‘not medieval’, still pretty old though.  Rama, the cafe-restaurant is on Krišjāņa Barona iela, a busy-ish shopping street, but one of the more attractive ones, probably caused by the Romanticism of Tramlines and wires…  I kicked my boots free of snow and walked up the little staircase to the front door, inside and another door leads to the cafe, whilst a small shop and what looked to be a room for worship were through other doorways.  Before I had even got my hands on the door handle to the cafe an elderly man, wearing a plastic apron, so I presume someone who worked there, and one of the Hare-Krishna followers began to mutter something in Latvian whilst referencing my boots and the wet floor.  I apologised that I could not understand him, he then muttered something about my ‘being sorry’ in English and disappeared up a staircase.  It seems I can’t even get a break in the Hare-Krishna community of Riga!  Oh well… I went into the cafe, a friendly man who was behind me and had witnessed the little altercation, let me through the door with an encouraging smile.  The food in the place was good.  It is served by weight, and there are loads of options, all are indian inspired.  I had some rice with some marinated and grilled vegetables, as well as a lovely potato vegetable fried thing.  It was very nice and reasonably good value for money.  If you go make sure your boots are pristine, not even a good hard knock on the steps outside will do!

After that lovely meal, just what my body had been asking for, I wandered the streets a little while, going around the new town, around the little shops of Berga Bazārs (not little locally owned shops as I had imagined, but more upper-class boutique places).  I had hoped to find Enihls Gustavs Chocolate shop there, but it would seem my guidebook is already a little behind the times, and unfortunately the shop is no longer there (there is one in the Central Train Station though, I am told).  I wandered down into the old town, got myself a cup of coffee in a little ice cream parlour.  The coffee was good, certainly sorting my energy levels out, and then I decided to go to the Central Market.  These four huge arched buildings, that look like aircraft hangers, are located opposite the coach station and adjacent to the train station.  There are various stalls outside of the buildings, selling everything from handicrafts and leather to fruit and flowers.  Inside the buildings is everything you could imagine in a food market, meat, cheese, cake, bread, tea, chocolate, sweets.  Its a pretty cool place, lots of atmosphere and life.  I just spent a while looking around the place, didn’t buy anything, not even cake today!  I’ve decided to start a bit of a health kick and try to eat a bit of a better diet, as much as possible.  Traveling isn’t ideal for gourmet dining though!

After that I headed back towards home, through little side streets and an artsy warehouse district with bars, a concert hall, a gallery called ‘kim?’ and restaurants.  The gallery is currently showing an installation by american artist Nick Mauss, if you are around on the 24th of February the artist Karl Holmqvist will be presenting his new reading series A WORD TEXT VORTEX.  There will also be a compilation of films, video and audio selected by Nick Mauss, presented at the cinema K. Suns (amongst them films by Yvonne Rainer, Robert Breer, Nina Könnemann and Megan Sullivan)

After that little bit I made sure I went home via Stalin’s Birthday Cake, the Latvian Academy of Sciences building, so that I could get a photo before I leave for Lithuania tomorrow.  That said, tomorrow involves around 6 hours of travel, so a decent, or in fact existent, posting tomorrow is a slim possibility.

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