We arrive late in Riga, Latvia and immediately find, across the river from the bus station, a Latvian restaurant, where we sit down to celebrate country #50 on my odyssey to all 196 UN-recognized nations. The waiter speaks little English, so when I switch to Russian and he still says “Bonjour” at the end of every sentence I grow even more perplexed.
I get some sort of meat ball wrapped in bacon; my dad orders chicken in a cream sauce. To ring in my semi cent-national journey, I also order a shot of local blackberry liqueur and a beer. The food is fairly good, and we are stuffed as we waddle back to the Central Hostel that is far from central.
In the morning, we walk around, seeing most of Riga before the free tour begins at 10 am. We start at the imposing St. Peter’s church, and the guide enthusiastically, but with less humor than the one we had in Tallinn, shows us some of the city’s highlights. We concluded the tour at a sculpture of a bird sitting atop a cat, who is standing on the back of a pig, who is placed on the back of a donkey. Our guide told us that it is tradition to make a wish and touch the nose of the highest animal on the stack, and the higher the animal you touched the more likely your wish would come true. By reaching the cat, my wish was thus 75% likely to be realized, according to our guide.
For lunch, we sat down at a fairly expensive nouveau-Latvian restaurant, and feasted on overpriced potato pilaf, blood sausage, and dumplings. At this point the trip had been grating on us, so we returned to the hostel to get some rest, before visiting a local “folkklub,” where they played traditional music accompanied by dancers who whirled around the dance floor. There, we met a Russian coder in his twenties or thirties, who happily talked to my dad about some nerdy stuff that I didn’t understand, while I got an opportunity to practice my Russian.
Victor Bernabei is just another millenial travel blogger. But here's the twist: He isn't a millenial! His goal is to see as many countries as he can, and spread the message that the world is not as scary as the news wants you to believe, and that there is beauty in all people, places and things.