If you have been following this Baltic road trip, you may have noticed that Hamilton and I started in Riga – no, I haven’t lost my mind and written the wrong city in the title; we also finished here. Flights were a lot cheaper and worked out better schedule wise, plus its there was no one way drop off fee for the car. Also Riga is pretty damn lovely and we were more than happy to spend an extra day there, especially because we booked ourselves into a fancy as anything five star hotel, which we were more than a bit excited by.
It was called the Grand Poet Semarah and had only been open a few months when we went (April 2018). It was really well designed and finished off beautifully, located opposite a park. Plus it had one of our favourite things, that had quickly become a necessity for us – a spa. For a hotel spa, it outdid itself – with an aroma room, jacuzzi, steam rooms and swimming pool. As well as a gym, that we actually used! I know, I was proud of us too.
The breakfast was maybe the best we had over the entire week, though I may be basing this too much off how it had the most expensive looking champagne. The wait staff could not do enough for you, to the point where it would take less than 10 seconds for them to pick up an empty cup or plate for you and take it away. The best bit? It cost us £45 each. Now, maybe I’ve been in London too long but for a 5 star hotel in the centre of a city, that’s a really good price. I can’t imagine it will stay that cheap forever though, so definitely go there if you’re in the area! I would have loved to have stayed longer, in fact, I wish I could have stayed longer in almost every city we went to.
We left ourselves a few things to do in Riga from the first day and I’m glad we did. It was really nice weather when we returned – the snow had melted, the ice from the river was gone and the sun was shining. Somehow we didn’t make it to the most famous landmark in Riga on the first day – the House of the Blackheads. We still didn’t make it inside but the outside is impressive enough on its own.
After this we wandered round the markets, which are HUGE. If we had something like that in London I would be there every day. They’re mostly food so as a tourist it may not be a shopping destination but still worth walking around.
Our final stop was a rooftop bar. We originally had our eyes set on a different one that had been recommended to us but the entire hotel it is located in was closed for renovation, so instead we sat outside for a bit contemplating what to do, looking a bit miffed. While there a couple asked us if we knew where the bar was and got a good laugh out of the fact that we were also there for the closed bar. Almost too much of a laugh if I’m honest, to the point where it felt like they just came over to laugh at us. We tried not to think about that too much though and headed to another bar.
Now for some reason a mutual hatred (between Hamilton and I), of Radisson Blu hotels began while we were away. Thinking about it right at this second, I have nothing against them but they are absolutely everywhere in Estonia and Latvia. You can’t escape them. We had to give our car keys back in to there after the car rental lady gave us the wrong opening times and that felt like the cherry on top of our reasons to be aggravated by Radissons.
Nevertheless, we had our sights set on a rooftop bar and the Radisson Blu had one of these. Quite a nice one, as it turns out. So we sucked it up and went there for one drink. Which turned into two. And then the hen do/stag parties turned up and we called it a night, in order to retire to our spa hotel (its a hard life).
The next day we were up bright and early for breakfast, ready to return to our respective homes – Hamilton lives up in Scotland, so he was taking a direct flight back to there, while I had a slightly later flight back to London after which I was flying straight out again on a work trip (but more on that later).
We said our goodbyes and I had a meander around the city centre looking for gifts. They love knitwear and alcohol in Latvia, which are two of my personal favourite things, so I got some socks for my boyfriend and Black Balsam (a traditional Latvian drink) for my Dad. Both didn’t turn out that well, as it was a heatwave when I returned meaning the socks were useless and my Dad compared drinking Black Balsam to consuming tar. Anyway, I tried.
So that was our Baltic road trip. We’ve done a few road trips in our time and I must say it was one of my favourites. Alright, pretty random at times but I had one of the best days of my life walking there (see this post) and saw some parts of the world I had never really considered before. I’m still working off the weight of the copious amount of cinnamon buns I consumed but other than that I have fond memories of the whole thing.
If you have any questions about it, let me know! I’ll post a little overview to make it easy to replicate if you so wish but in all honesty it isn’t rocket science. It was a round trip to all the major cities and made sense both on paper and in real life.
Where are you heading next?