Photos
Latvia

Holy smokes. Why don't more people come here? Latvia is awesome. It’s of course not unheard of, but there aren’t many tourists, and not many visitors go there other than Russians and the small contingent of Canadian military personnel. Most people hear -via¬†and think of some gloomy east-European backwater with Dracula-type castles and starving peasants. It’s not.

I spent two months there in 2020 (of all years to travel). The downside of Latvia is that it’s far north, and so summer is the best time to go, when it’s still not going to get much above 20 Celsius. But Latvia has beautiful Art Nouveau architecture from its early 20th century time of independence; good beaches (with admittedly, uh, bracing ocean water) and a nice seaside village, Jurmala; forests with ginormously tall trees; well-connected and cheap public transport; excellent savory soups and food; cool old ex-Soviet secret bunkers; hot, willowy blondes; low travel costs; and some of the best beer I’ve had in my life. And a strange liking for '80s English rock music and ice hockey, if you’re into that. Most of the pictures I took here are Riga and Jurmala.

Latvians are conservative and initially a touch wary of strangers due to former decades of Soviet informants. But once they open up they have a wonderful rough-and-tumble charm, and I’ve never seen a more kid-friendly culture. I don’t think Latvians have ever seen a child, or forest they didn’t love. Going into the woods for mushroom picking isn't some euphemism... it's a thing.

If You Go
English is not as widespread here, but it's doable, and people in service jobs usually speak some. Latvia sometimes feels like it should be unsafe, when you see rough-looking hombres turn the corner... and then they're pushing baby carriages. It's generally fine, and even Riga has a small-town feel where people know each other's business, although some of the wealthy expat Russians can be aggressive, whether in person or on the road. Again, pack for cool weather even if you come in summertime.

 


Haybales in Southern Latvia › October 2020. Jomas Street Flowers, Jurmala › August 2020. Jomas Street Green, Jurmala › August 2020. Jomas Street, Jurmala › August 2020. Kazanas Dievmates Church, Jurmala › August 2020. Old Town Night Red, Riga › August 2020. Backyard Stars, Jurmala › August 2020. Zack in the Yard, Jurmala › August 2020. Arch Face, Riga › August 2020. Dome Square Figures, Riga › August 2020. Freedom Monument, Riga › August 2020. Freedom Monument, Riga › August 2020. House of Blackheads Guards, Riga › August 2020. Alderu Closed Eyes, Riga › August 2020. House of Blackheads Clock, Riga › August 2020. House of Blackheads Flowers, Riga › August 2020. Old Town Pub View, Riga › August 2020. Opera House and Fountain, Riga › August 2020. Opera House and Fountain, Riga › August 2020. Opera House and Park, Riga › August 2020. Pub Bar, Riga › August 2020. St. Peter's Flowers, Riga › August 2020. Architecture Building Door, Riga › August 2020. Waiter at Door, Riga › August 2020. Zeppelin Market, Riga › August 2020. City Sign, Riga › August 2020. Latvian Cheese, Jurmala › August 2020. Near Alberta Street, Riga › August 2020. Path to Lielupe Station, Jurmala › August 2020. Jomas Street Church View, Jurmala › August 2020. Orthodox Church Close, Jurmala › August 2020. Sunset Beams, Jurmala › August 2020. Sunset People, Jurmala › August 2020. Sunset, Jurmala › August 2020. Windswept Beach, Jurmala › August 2020. Low Pub Counter, Riga › August 2020. High and Low Art Nouveau, Riga › August 2020. Zeppelin Market Beer, Riga › August 2020. Park Ice Cream, Riga › August 2020. Rail Museum Car, Riga › August 2020. Rail Museum Locomotive, Riga › August 2020. Rail Museum Logo, Riga › August 2020. Pub Beer, Riga › August 2020. Merkeja Street Close, Riga › August 2020. Merkeja Art Nouveau, Riga › August 2020. Soviet Train Sunny, Riga › August 2020. Jurmala Lade › August 2020. Ragakapas Green, Jurmala › August 2020. Ragakapas Mushroom, Jurmala › August 2020. Ragakapas Trees, Jurmala › August 2020. Rainy Trees on Path, Jurmala › August 2020. Rainy Trees on Path, Jurmala › August 2020. Viking Green, Jurmala › August 2020. Mark on Viking Road, Jurmala › August 2020. Bookstore Art Deco, Jelgava › August 2020. Bookstore, Jelgava › August 2020. Immaculate Last Supper, Jelgava › August 2020. Jelgava Station › August 2020. Bright Sunset, Jurmala › August 2020. Orthodox Cathedral, Jelgava › August 2020. Palace Square, Jelgava › August 2020. Petrine Cannons, Jelgava › August 2020. Tower Restaurant, Jelgava › August 2020. Restaurant View, Jelgava › August 2020. Riga Station Coffee › August 2020. St. John's Clock, Jelgava › August 2020. Stalin's Wedding Cake, Riga › August 2020. Stalin's Wedding Cake, Riga › August 2020. Palace Arch View, Jelgava › August 2020. Beer in Glass, Valmiera › August 2020. Brewery Patio, Valmiera › August 2020. Livonian Castle Ruins, Valmiera › August 2020. Riga Station Night › August 2020. Simons Loft, Valmiera › August 2020. Walkway Houses, Valmiera › August 2020. Market Bread, Riga › August 2020. Bulduru Lutheran, Jurmala › August 2020. Sea of Riga Sunset, Jurmala › August 2020. Cafe View of Beach, Jurmala › August 2020. Jurmala Shoreline › August 2020. Jurmala Sun › August 2020. Canal Edge, Riga › September 2020. David's Psalter from 13th Century, National Library, Riga › September 2020. First Latvia Periodical (1700), National Library, Riga › September 2020. Library Book Floors, Riga › September 2020. National Library, Riga › September 2020. University Library Street, Riga › September 2020. Park Art Nouveau, Riga › September 2020. Riga Old Town From Library, Riga › September 2020. Luther's Small Cathechism, National Library, Riga › September 2020. Tornavalds Cafe Sign, Riga › September 2020. Uzvaras Park Susans, Riga › September 2020. Antique Boat, Jurmala Museum › September 2020. Fisherman's House, Jurmala Museum › September 2020. Viking Moss, Jurmala › September 2020. Viking Moss, Jurmala › September 2020. Antique Wood Edge, Jurmala Museum › September 2020. Alberta Street Cat, Riga › September 2020. Alberta Street Door, Riga › September 2020. Alberta Street Green, Riga › September 2020. Elizabeth Street Door, Riga › September 2020. Elizabeth Street Pink, Riga › September 2020. Art Nouveau Corner, Riga › September 2020. Art Nouveau Up, Riga › September 2020. Beach Cafe at Sunset, Jurmala › September 2020. House on Beach Path, Jurmala › September 2020. Skyline from Tower, Jurmala › September 2020. Bremen Musicians, Riga › September 2020. Church View, Riga › September 2020. Orthodox Nativity Altar, Riga › September 2020. Palace Square, Riga › September 2020. Palace Square, Riga › September 2020. Pils Street, Riga › September 2020. St. Peter's & Bremen Statues, Riga › September 2020. Three Brothers, Riga › September 2020. Trosnu Street, Riga › September 2020. Radisson 26th Floor Dusk, Riga › September 2020. Radisson 26th Floor Lounge, Riga › September 2020. Radisson 26th Floor Late Dusk, Riga › September 2020. Radisson 26th Floor Dark, Riga › September 2020. Beach Surf at Night, Jurmala › September 2020. Radisson 26th Floor Twilight, Riga › September 2020. Canteen, Soviet Bunker, Ligatne › September 2020. Communications, Soviet Bunker, Ligatne › September 2020. Communications, Soviet Bunker, Ligatne › September 2020. Door Sign, Soviet Bunker, Ligatne › September 2020. Phone Desk, Soviet Bunker, Ligatne › September 2020. Teletypes, Soviet Bunker, Ligatne › September 2020. Down from Third, Turaida Castle › September 2020. First Floor Lights, Turaida Castle › September 2020. Moon & Road, near Sigulda › September 2020. Palace Berries, Turaida Castle › September 2020. Second Floor Lights, Turaida Castle › September 2020. Sun on Hill, Turaida Park › September 2020. View From Turaida Castle › September 2020. Top Turret, Turaida Castle › September 2020. View From Turaida Castle › September 2020. Up to Third, Turaida Castle › September 2020. Beach Cafe, Jurmala › September 2020. Pils Statue, Riga › September 2020. 1221 Restaurant, Riga › September 2020. 1221 Restaurant, Riga › September 2020. Audeja Art Nouveau, Riga › September 2020. Beach Clear Sunset, Jurmala › September 2020. Beach Late Sun, Jurmala › September 2020. Duo Close, Riga › September 2020. Elizabeth Street Heads, Riga › September 2020. Old Wood Building, Riga › September 2020. Pils Street West, Riga › September 2020. St. Peter's Front, Riga › September 2020. St. Savior's Anglican, Riga › September 2020. Elizabeth Street Heads, Riga › September 2020. Elizabeth Street Heads Top, Riga › September 2020. Elizabeth Street Head Corner, Riga › September 2020. Beach Path Night Stars, Jurmala › September 2020. Peebles Watching Hockey, Riga › September 2020. Blue Cow, Riga › September 2020. Cobblestone to St. Peter's, Riga › September 2020. Doms Church Trees, Riga › September 2020. Old Town Emblems, Riga › September 2020. Zeppelin Market Inside, Riga › September 2020. Lutheran Doms, Riga › September 2020. Market Cheese, Riga › September 2020. Meistaru Panorama, Riga › September 2020. Middle Brother, Riga › September 2020. Old Building on Torna, Riga › September 2020. Old Town Backstreet, Riga › September 2020. Side Street Cafe, Riga › September 2020. St. Peter's Flowers & Lamp, Riga › September 2020. St. Peter's Flowers, Riga › September 2020. Swedish Gate, Riga › September 2020. Torna Sunglint, Riga › September 2020. Vidus Morning, Jurmala › September 2020.