Well, one night was enough in Riga.
As with Tallinn, Riga has a neat, nice old town area. All â€œold townsâ€?, almost anywhere in the world, are great. In the old days people knew how to build a city which is walkable, comfortable and enjoyable. Most modern cities are just concrete jungles with no sense of style or livability.
During the day the old town is very nice. It’s quaint. And there are lots of beautiful girls everywhere. Where they go at night, however, is the mystery.
But other than Rigaâ€™s old town, I didnâ€™t like Riga much. Tallinn is better in every way I can think of. The people are much friendlier in Tallinn. They are also better looking. And the nightlife scene is much better there too.
It was rainy and cold on the Wednesday evening I was here, which of course did not add to my perception of things. A nice sunny day can make even the dreariest of cities seem just a bit better, and vice versa when it is cold and rainy.
I tried to play poker at the casino at the Reval hotel downtown but they only had a small tournament running and even at 12:30am they only had an ‘interest list’ for a cash game. So, again, Tallinn is superior in this regard too.
I walked around the Old Town for a bit but not much was happening other than a few escort/strip clubs which had their girls out on the street trying to entice you in with their nicotine induced raspiness and super strong, Russian sounding accents.
So I then hopped a cab and went to a place the taxi driver recommended, called Essential which is downtown.
Essential was terrible. It is small and has an awkward layout with too bright lighting and the crowd there was ultra goofy. In fact, when I try to picture some of the breakaway Soviet states and how they mustâ€™ve been right after the Soviet Union dissolved, this club is what I picture. The guys were dressed really badly, like they still lived in the communist Soviet Union. Many were â€œdressed upâ€? for this big night out at Essential in their grey, poorly fitted, cheap looking suits. The few girls who were there werenâ€™t that attractive. And the dancing was hard to watch it was so bad. And to add even more to the assault on the senses, the place smelled of wet popcorn. Musty! But everyone seemed like they were having a great time though, which just made it more confounding.
Chinese people have the least rhythm of any group of people but white people come a close second and the Latvians at the clubs I visited proved it. I quickly left Essential and ended up at a dive bar called â€œPulkvedim neviens nerakstaâ€? which translates to â€œNobody writes to the Colonelâ€?. Which wins my award for oddest named disco, ever.
The people here were a little younger and had slightly better style, but it was still terrible.
The music everywhere was so bad it was laughable. But much like in Helsinki, everyone seemed to just think this was AWESOME musicâ€¦ they were going crazy raising the roof and doing the running man and roger rabbit. I felt like I had been time warped back to 1992.
Some of the tracks played included â€œGhetto Superstarâ€? and I nearly did a spit-take with my vodka-redbull when they put on â€œShoopâ€?, one of the worst tracks of all time, by Salt N Pepa. There was this, sort of, break dancing guy there who was really, really bad but everyone thought he was awesome. When he started going buck wild when they put on â€œShoopâ€? I literally put my drink down and headed straight for the exit. I wish I had videotaped it, just for humors sake, but if I want an evening of laughs Iâ€™ll go to Yuk Yuks, not the local disco!
And so ended my night. My hotel, which is nice enough, called Radi un Draugi was right around the corner from the â€˜Colonelsâ€™ so I walked home in the drizzle and immediately loaded up Expedia and booked the next flight out. Which happened to be Warsaw, Poland.
I really have no expectations for Warsawâ€¦ but much like how I was when I left Oslo, I find myself thinking that it canâ€™t really be worse than where I currently am, so itâ€™s got at least that going for it.
But Iâ€™m starting to get tired of being around all these white people. White people, in general (BIG generalization of course, there are obviously millions of exceptions), are a style-less, unhappy, unfriendly and, when drunk, obnoxious people and between Norway, Finland and Latvia they are starting to get on my nerves. As usual, Europe is always a disappointment with Estonia being the only oasis I have found yet on this entire continent. I may have to bust out south, west or east at any moment in search of sun, flava and pigmentation if this keeps up much longer.