To Riga I arrived directly from Kaunas by latvian trucker. He was speaking russian but I didn't have much chance to practice my russian. The guy was talking all the time and I wasn't able to say anything :) The plot was mostly what a bastards russians are and how they did and stil do torture latvian nation :) Only part that was not about russians was about germans and second world war :D
Riga is one of those cities where you actually have a feeling you're in some capital. Prices were not as low as I expected. I found public transport very expensive. One ride with city bus costs 2€. For comparison, in Kaunasu I payed 80 cents, in Warsaw even a couple of cents less.
I thought I have a Deja Vu, when I saw a building on photo below. I already saw something like that. Oh, yes, Palace of Culture and Science (more details in article about Warsaw). It's a sample of tipical Stalinist architecture. Later I saw much more such buildings in Moscow.
There should be the largest covered market in Europe in Riga. I visited it to taste some free fruits :)
The cheapest of all in Latvia is amber stone. Baltic sea washes a tons on it on shores every day.
Officialy around 40% of Riga's population are russians. But according to public opinion probably even something more. On the streets you really hear russian more often than latvian. And those are not latvians with russian roots, but actual russians. They don't have latvian passport but so called, "non-citizen" passports. If they would accept latvian citizenship they would need a visa for Russia. The second advantage of such status is they don't need to serve in latvian army.
I was in Riga on 9th of May. The day when russians celebrate victory day. Russians in Latvia also celebrate it. But the awkward part is that for latvians this day represents more a day of defeat than victory. Between the wars, Latvia was independant country. After the second world war it became a part of Soviet Union. My latvian friend told me that of course it doesn't feel right they celebrate this, but in the time of democracy you can not prohibit it. They just prefer neither to see it as a day of victory, neither defeat, but just the end of the war. This should be good in any case :)
To make situation even more under pressure, that day was a ice hockey match between Latvia and Russia. Russians won again. But how did it look like on the streets? Before the game you could hear half of the people speaking latvian, half russian. Between the game, streets were empty. After the game you could hear only russian. Not to mention a car rushing up and down the city with russian flag hanging ou of the window :)
Ice hockey is far the most popular sport in Latvia.
Because of the current tensions between Europe and Russia, a big part of NATO fleet is anchored in port of Riga .
A night skyline over Daugava river:
And an interesting pub: