Wednesday, 2 July 2008

A bit Baltic

Apologies for the tardiness of these posts...
Anyway, several months back I had planned to visit the Baltics on a trip with Martin. I expected to be back from Central America in loads of time, but as it was I ended up being in Ireland less than a day before jumping on a plane to Vilnius.
Lithuania’s capital was a lot prettier than I would have imagined.

Some of the architecture was pretty stunning, and the weather nice and balmy. Although not on my original itinerary (I'm meeting Martin in Latvia) I was glad I came. The bars and restaurants evoke a feeling closer to Mediterranean Europe than old soviet block states, and despite basic English, the locals are pretty friendly. The town is a delight to wander, and is also delightfully missing the riff raff that have descended into some of eastern Europe's nicer cities due to the likes of urine air and sleazy jet offering too cheap flights.

After Vilnius I hoped on the bus north to Riga, famed stag party capital of Latvia.
After meeting up with Martin, we hit the town, only to find that we had arrived at the one time of the year (midsummer) where it's dead quiet. Still, Riga is another beautiful Baltic capital.

And there are a few folk around, probably mostly tourists unaware of the nature of the festival. Martin was pretty adapt at herding them out. He knows every inch of Riga's lanes and alleyways at this stage.
We did happen to be here for the Russian football match, which, given that Latvia is almost 50% Russian, was a pretty big occasion.

Next stop , was Tallin, Estonia, but only for a brief stopover as we were on our way to Helsinki for a couple of days. The weather was still mostly behaving itslef, and the shortish crossing over the gulf of Finland was very pleasant.
We met up with Sean and as usual he was a great host, its great to have the local knowledge of where to go.

So after a couple of nights it was back over in force to Tallinn. Again, it's a lovely city, with cute squares and alleys and lanes winding through the old part of town. Possibly the prettiest of all the Baltic cities. Though, it has to be said, pretty chocca with tourists.

It's also got very lively nightlife, with a variety of bars and clubs keeping things going well past dawn. After 10 days in the Baltics, I think I need a serious detox.