We started with a 5am wake-up disco (thanks to Sam’s speakers) and got the taxi to the station where Ally and Zara got a successful birthday shout out to Joanne from the station master. Airport security was tight and three people got caught; Jon was checked for explosives, Ollie endured a body search and Ally, being incredibly suspicious, had another security check.
The real palava happened later though, once we had all bought bus passes and were on our way to the centre of Riga. Just as we were wondering why you could just wander onto the buses, a load of uniformed officers came out to the bus with stop signs and a fancy machine. Unlike everyone else, Joanne hadn’t swiped her ticket correctly, and the officials ended up marching her off the bus, jabbering away in Latvian! We lasted less than sixty minutes before losing our thus far only victim to the Latvian police. Ally hopped off as well, and the other seven carried on into Riga to find the hostel. After a 20€ fine and them catching the next bus, we managed to meet them near our hostel. Joanne has continuously been teased since then, but she seems rather proud of her first ever fine!
After getting lost a few times, we found Tiger Hostel (aptly rigged out with tiger wall hangings, bed-sheets, bed-spreads and pillows). It was incredible value for just £3.20 per night! Dom gave all of us a brief Latvian lesson, covering all the basics. Of which, we remembered very little! We sought dinner in the old town, in a restaurant called Stargrod. This was an interesting experience; we were all rather baffled when they insisted on taking our coats and led us up the big staircase to find a huge dining area and many TVs showing a football match. The waiters didn’t speak much English, which made both the ordering and working out whose food was which slightly challenging!
The most entertaining part of this restaurant was when we were live-streamed a party downstairs, and the chopping up of a hog roast! There were 4 men in colourful hats and uniforms, exaggeratingly brandishing knives, with loud party music and a long speech – of which we understood none of whatsoever! Generally it was an excellent first meal, with entertainment and good food aplenty.
We all went to bed very early after our busy day as we needed our sleep to prepare for our bobsleighing adventures on Sunday!