Sat 26/07/08 14:22

I guess this is a catchup day. As I write it’s Saturday evening, the 26th and I’m getting ready to go to bed.

So yesterday I was in Riga… Riga, a name that will forever mean “wasted time” in my world. The last day I checked out of my hostel and decided to take another walking trip. I walked around for it seemed like forever until I got this idea to start taking pictures of graffiti. I’ve always liked street art, and there was some good work around Riga. I’ll include some of them in my pics. Anyway, it was pretty much a wasted day, since my bus to Warsaw didn’t leave until 6:30.

I also started taking pics of older buildings. You know the abandoned buildings that cities really don’t want you to see.

One of  the things that I thought was unusual was that the “FA(t)” at the top of the one photo must be a tag (the artist’s mark) because I saw exactly the same tag about 40 miles away. Unless there is some other reason why I would see the same word, done in the exact same style, this artist gets around.

About 5 I went back to the hostel and got my backpack… and my debit card was there. I don’t know why I didn’t trust my bank, but I didn’t think it would show up for weeks. I can honestly say that Wells Fargo is the best bank ever… ever.

So the bus trip was to take me to warsaw, but I found out from this Russian girl that I could go to Krakow if I just stay on the bus… and pay extra of course:) Russian women are so awesome. 🙂 It’s funny that the ticket lady told me that I couldn’t. So I left about 6:30 for Krakow. Normally I wouldn’t be this detailed, but the trip to Krakow took me through Latvia, Lithuania, Warsaw, and finally to Krakow. That’s a lot of area to cover, and it was an interesting trip.  There were two things that really stood out to me. The first is how geographically the area is to Oregon (my original home) and second, how totally americanized Poland has become. Before you get to any town in Poland, you get billboards for hotels, restaurants, and every thing else. Then when you get to the outskirts, you start seeing strip-malls, and McDonalds. It was quite depressing from my perspective.

We went through Villinus in Lithuania, I wish we couldn’t have stopped for a little while, because it really looked like a great place from what I could see.

Thu 24/07/08 06:15

So it’s day four in Riga and I’m starting to feel like I’m wasting my time here. I don’t really know what to do, should I wait for my debit card until tomorrow, or go get a cash advance on my credit card and continue on with my vacation? I know the answer to the question, I’ll wait until Friday (tomorrow) afternoon and if it’s not here then I’ll go to the bus station and just take any bus that gets me out of here.

So I went to the cafe to meet up with Maris and Sam today at noon. I get a cappuccino and sit back to watch the people go by. After about five minutes a woman at the next table asks if I speak Russian so I could help her translate an advertisement on the paper she was reading. I tell her I can’t, then she asks where I’m from, about 2 or 3 minutes later she invites me to her table.  I thank her but tell her that I’m waiting for some friends that should be here any moment. A beggar comes up to me asking for money, I shake my head and the beggar goes to the woman, the woman rattles off about 3 quick sentences in Russian… kind of strange that she needed me to translate that ad. So now I’m feeling a little uncomfortable in the situation… I mean, I’m more than just a piece of meat (I admit, a piece of really prime, good-looking meat) that can be wooed with some cheap pick-up line… I’d like to think so at least. Anyway I go and get another coffee and when I get back she asks me to buy her a beer. What!? I guess I am more than a piece of meat, I’m her beer-daddy, her beer meister. So I did what I always do in that type of situation, I go and buy her a beer. 🙂 I have such a hard time being rude to people. After that I finished my coffee and excuse myself and came back to the hostel. Neither Sam or Maris showed up, I didn’t really think that they would since I didn’t show up yesterday.

It really makes you wonder about this place though. I mean every day I go to the square I get approached by someone, usually a regular, and usually I feel like they want something from me.

I warned people that my entries were going to get boring… did I lie?

Wed 23/07/08 14:08

After my long walk today, I came back and took a nap. I think I mentioned in one of the posts that it felt good to just walk, and since I’ve really can’t leave to go see other parts of Europe just yet, I might as well enjoy the sights here, and walking is my favorite way to see a city. So  after I woke up and got something to eat, I decided to start walking again, only not as far and in a different direction. I started by following the canals that are in the park not far from my hostel. I was surprised by first how peaceful it was, and second how really beautiful it was. I’ll upload some pics to show you what I mean. Anyway, the area I went to wasn’t really touristy but you can tell that it has been updated. All the buildings were painted, expensive cars were out front, and like I said not very busy. I felt like I was in the rich area of the city.

One of the things that is getting kind of old here is the beggars. Almost everywhere you go there is someone asking you for money. Around the corner is a place where wannabe punkers gather up, about 10 of them and harass tourists for money. I must be starting to act more like a local, or maybe they think I’m poor, but they don’t ask me. No, I don’t feel neglected. 🙂

Wed 23/07/08 08:10

So pretty much everyone knows about my debit card problem. I’m stuck in Riga until I get a replacement sent to me. According to my bank it should be either tomorrow or Friday. Hopefully it’s tomorrow because I really don’t like hanging around here. It has nothing to do with the city, it’s just that I never really planned on coming here in the first place, and the places that I want to be, that I’ve planned on seeing for the last 6 months are waiting until I get my debit card. I haven’t even started my global train pass, which I paid for.

All that being said, I decided to get out and do some sightseeing. I started this morning about 10 and walked around the city for about 6 hours. I think I covered at least half the city in my wandering. There are some really beautiful architecture in the city, and some of the things that I really liked was how there are parts of the city that are not touristy, but have great old buildings. In one area that wandered to there were two old towers. I put an image of one up here, I don’t know what it was originally for, but it was pretty cool. There were two of them about 50 meters apart… maybe it was old gate towers. Maybe. All in all, Riga is really nothing great, but it’s got it’s charms too.

There are a lot of memorials to wars, and  lot of narrow streets filled with people and with old buildings. In one of the pics that I posted you can see just one street that’s got some great old buildings on it.

One thing that I really liked was a park not far from my hostel. This afternoon I decided to finally eat something and headed to McDonalds. I didn’t go to the park earlier, but did see it. It was a perfect chance to go relax in the park. The park has a canal running through it which means that they have bridges and there are people out paddling boats, and generally either having fun or relaxing.

Tue 22/07/08 07:06

I took some people’s suggestion that Riga was the place to be, and packed up and left Tallinn yesterday, and I don’t that I made the right decision. Riga is nice, but Tallinn really seemed to be a little more comfortable. What I mean is that Riga is basically a working city, with an old part (old city) and people are walking everywhere, where Tallinn was more like a tourist part of the city, that was restored to it’s original “glory.” Riga is nice don’t get me wrong, the people are more friendly than some of the other cities that I’ve been too, in fact it appears that they are maybe a little too friendly.
Continue reading