last two days in Latvia were devoted to driving to and visiting
the capital city of Riga along with the nearby beach resort of Jurmala.
traveled first to Jurmala, to take in the ocean air. After
parking in town, we made a beeline for the beach, which was lovely --
despite a bit of rain and the cooler temps. The coastline
goes on for miles, a relatively narrow strip of sand flanked by trees.
Although there was not much activity on the beach that day, tents were
up and the music was pumping, anticipating crowds that were sure to
an effort to avoid the rain and ease our hunger pangs, we journeyed
northward along the beach for about 200 meters, arriving at the
Lighthouse Hotel and Restaurant, the only permanent dwelling in sight.
We sat down to enjoy drinks and a fantastic lunch of fish and fowl.
Sure enough, shortly thereafter the weather
turned sunnier as we headed into Jurmala. The photo to the left is of
the restaurant, while on the right? Our view of the beach. To the
lower left, a sampling of our meal: Tracy's roasted chicken.
Sated, we headed off to see the town.
the beach there is a promenade (photo, left) replete with a water
fountain leading into the
town. Jurmala is considered an entertainment hub with a fine theater,
one of several venues in which popular artists perform each summer.
there, the commercial heart of Jurmala is largely given to tourist
shops, restaurants, and hotels. Most retain their traditional look, as
can be seen in the photo to the right.
Jurmala we traveled to our AirBnB, located just
outside the Riga's Old Town. While the main attractions of our visit to
Old Town are contained in the virtual tour below, there were a couple
of memorable stops in addition to the traditional sightseeing. The
first of these was a visit to a chocolate shop, The Black Magic Cafe.
Established in 1752, I was heartened to learn that high quality
chocolate predates the
Industrial Revolution! In addition to chocolates, the cafe is known for
its" balsam," a dark and astringent liqueur made of 24 herbs whose
recipe remains unchanged for 250 years. The cozy upstairs is
lined with glass cases of confections. However, entering Black
Magic Shop there is a bookcase to the left which swings open -- leading
a rathskellar (basement cafe)
with, yes, even more chocolate! The waitstaff is
in costume right out of Harry Potter. We
snacked on various chocolates, and quaffed down some hot chocolate
for good measure. The photo upper left
shows Olga entering the shop,
while the photo upper right
shows the bookcase passageway to the rathskellar. At the bottom left is
a view of the rathskellar and to the right: the
chocolates on display.
other departure from sightseeing, not surprisingly, was also food-
related. Just around the corner from our Airbnb was the restaurant,
Garage. Like the Lido which we
visited on our arrival in Latvia, it was also on the list of dining
experiences Tracy had just spied in the in-flight magazine on the
flight from Stockholm. Located in a
small square just behind our apartment, it is one of a host of
eateries, as well as one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the
World's. On the
night we dined at Garage, there was a jazz concert in the courtyard,
we enjoyed from our vantage point in the restaurant. The photo to the
left shows a photo of Sergey's meal (seared duck, if I remember
correctly) while on the right, the shows the stage from our table.
Below is a video of one of the performances. Great food, great weather,
and great music--an unbeatable combination!
Of course, the main
attraction was our visit to Old Town Riga. Like Gamla Stan (in
Stockholm), its lineage traces back to the Middle Ages, and its history
is bound up with the Hanseatic League that linked Germany and the
Baltic States. Below are two virtual tours of Vecriga (Old Town Riga).
The first is a map-based tour with pop-up windows containing photos,
text and video descriptions. Below that, find a more immersive
VR tour assembled with
Google's VR Creator. (As I'd left the 360 camera in Stockholm, we were
unable to capture our own panoramas.)
Tour of Vecriga (Old Town Riga)
Instructions: the map above
shows the major sites on the tour. To view a
specific site, click the link in the table below. Once you have
finished viewing the site, click on the "Close" button at the bottom of
the page. Please note that on mobile devices
the "Close" button may not
be active. In this case, simply hit the "Back" button on the
return to the map. Also, your ad-blocker must be
disabled to view the popups.
360 Tour of Vercriga
Virtual Reality Tour for VR
is also a version of this tour
for VR headsets such as Google Cardboard, and it works with both iPhone
and Android devices. It may be access by scanning on the QR code to the
left. If you are viewing this on a mobile phone, you may access the VR
tour by following this
For iOS devices:
scan QR code with your device's camera app, tap on the prompt to open
Safari. Select "Allow Device Motion" and the next prompt, "Allow Access
to Motion Orientation." Turn the device to landscape mode and a split
screen will appear. When the screen turns white, swipe up for
fullscreen mode, and place in headset. Here is a video of
how to do this--it is simpler than it sounds! [The video opens in a new
window--close when done to return to this page]
For Android devices:
Open the camera app and use the built-in scanner to scan the QR code
above. Confirm that you want to open the website, and wait for it to
load--it should load in stereo view. Select the fullscreen ("X" option)
from the menu at the bottom. Turn the device to landscape mode and you
are ready to go. Here
is a video of how to do this--it
is simpler than it sounds! [The video opens in a new window--close when
done to return to this page]