Investigators in Riga*
*originally posted on my Medium
Riga, the capital of Latvia that makes 1/3 of Latvia already, is simply amazing in its simplicity.Sorry for the word play, but that’s just what it is.
Why the hell did I go there? It was Sunday afternoon in Kyiv and the flight to Riga took off from the Boryspil airport.
Me, and four other young journalists from Ukraine were going on the Journalism For Future Challenges program in Riga. Thanks to the program, I have a feeling I’m a female version of James Bond now. Just kidding. In fact, I think that now as the program is over, my aspirations, as a journalist, have changed a lot. New goals popped up in my head. And it’s an amazing feeling…
Six days, Monday through Saturday we had plenty of trainings with the best ever possible investigative journalists out there. 9:30 am through 5 pm it was all investigative journalism trainings.
There were also journalists from Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Belarus, except just Ukraine. If I missed someone though— feel free to slap me in the face next time you see me.
Investigative journalists have to be kinda obsessed with keeping work-related info in secret all the time. So here, the mystery, right there :) Telling you none of the details about the trainings. But actually, I’m just telling you lies. Investigative journalists don’t even tell most people where they travel. So, I’m kind of a bad example to be followed by doing this post. Although, I haven’t done any real investigation yet, so I can give it a try and tell you what’s the deal with Riga and why it’s amazing.
Every day after 5pm when the trainings were over, we were free to do whatever we wanted. On Monday we had a dinner in a nice restaurant that I already don’t remember the name of. But it’s close to Albert Hotel, a really good place to stay by the way. We sang our national songs and it was so much fun. I also sang. Little moment of selfishness lolz :)
Now I will be jumping from stories to descriptions, since I’m kind of in rush to get some sleep after my flight, so here we go.
Boy, Riga is the city of parks, and are they amazing!
On Tuesday after the trainings I went for walk around the city and took this enormous amount of pictures that I stuffed my phone storage to the fullest. Don’t really know what to do with all of them, but they are so amazing, I can’t pick which I like the most.
I guess, the ones from the parks. Yeah, I was mostly impressed how green the city is because of the parks.
And also how clean it is. Really, no offense to Prague, for instance, but the last one has some lessons to learn from Riga.
The best park, I don’t remember the name though, is nearby the opera theater I think. It’s this long, rather than wide, park with a river dividing it in two banks and fountains, fountains, many majestic fountains along the river.
I fell in love with the fountains.
You can be also amazed how many seagulls are in Riga. Every single morning I was waking up to seagulls’ “kooeeh-kooeeh” or whatever is the best word to explain seagull’s language. Well, that is no surprise to the wide “seagull diaspora” to be honest — the Daugava river crosses the city and Riga is also about 40 minutes away from the Baltic Sea.
About the Daugava river again. It has placed a “wow” effect on me and reminded of Dnieper in Kyiv, although, it’s not that wide.
On Wednesday we’ve been working on our special project, so there are no pictures I can show.
But on Thursday we’ve been to the cafe nearby the yacht club in Riga. Not sure what the name is, but that’s not the point. My point is that it is the place to visit when in Riga and relax near the water, not just in another cafe or bar along the street, which, by the way, contribute to Riga’s booming night life (just gotta go to downtown any time after 10pm).
So yeah. Daugava river. Splendid. We had a small boat taking us along the river in the park and a bit of Daugava. It was reeeeeeaaaally NICE I must tell.
Riga, by the way, has really short nights. Literally. It’s day light all over you when it’s just close to 4 am. And even at 11pm you can go cycling easily, cause you can see that much. So it’s about 4 hours of darkness. Dark and thick curtains are a must-have for all Riga inhabitants and visitors I think.
Amazing once again. I have never seen “white nights” or whatever they call the famous fake nights with no darkness behind the curtains in St. Petersburg, so I was impressed.
June weather in Riga is just perfect. The temperature gets as high as 20–24 above zero (Celsius of course).
It seemed to be quite cold when we have just arrived, but then either I got used to it, or this is the weather that my body accepts as the best environment. Coming back to Kyiv with 30 degrees above zero felt rather disappointing.
But back to the natural charmer that Riga is. When we had a city tour, the tour guide said that cultural life of the city is super rich. I trust her on that point. But even more, I can trust anything to be said about the night life of Riga.
Riga is small, but somewhat rebellious… If you want to know why — visit Rock Cafe somewhere in the downtown. You should look it up on Google Maps, but you won’t miss the entrance as soon as you notice a big contrabass right at the cafe’s entrance.
It’s not a cafe though. It’s more of a night club-pub-karaoke combo. It’s three floors and whatever you like to do the most — sing, drink, dance or do everything at once — just help yourself. The first floor has karaoke, and you can order the song for free, but get ready to wait an hour for your turn, so you might spend waiting time on the third floor. It has a spacious dance floor that gets too stuffed when the music is on. Live rock is performed there. But after 1am or so they turn on regular club music, so if you are more into club music — I gave you the clue when you should come.
Another hint — the place is rather crowded on Friday and the weekends probably. Many foreigners there. Some gays.
Don’t go into the toilet. You won’t like it I can bet. Also you might be offered cocaine there just like I was offered. Better say you don’t have money or something (the guy is silly and offers it not really for free like it’s supposed to be, as far as I know).Anyway, just be careful and spend more time on the dance floor.
Riga is not a place for coffee. Most of the coffee places are — Double Coffee and Coffee Inn, which is like — not really that good.
Those don’t provide you with the right “coffee shop atmosphere”, so you better just go to some pub. These are better in making “atmosphere” or as I call it “I-gotta-come-back” feeling.
The best place I enjoyed was basically the bar at the roof of Albert Hotel. Awesome view it has. A W E S O M E.
Try to not be a selfish individual and think about souvenirs beforehand. I was not that thoughtful so I had to do my last-minute shopping at duty free, which was actually 1–2 euros more expensive than in Riga’s stores.
And yeah, Riga runs euros since the beginning of 2014, but the prices are okay. Cheaper than in Vienna for sure.
And as I’m getting bored writing this post, I think I will just do a photo-burst on Facebook or something, so you can see the rest and guess what the hell has been going on in Riga and all other stuff.
P.S. “Mimimi” paragraph.
Gotta say I really miss Riga already, but not really Riga, rather than a great team I had an honor to become a part of. All the guys, but especially Ukrainians.Thanks.
You are all so talented, you are real achievers and I believe our course in investigative journalism is not the last place where our life paths cross.
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