As I headed to Lithuania, world-traveling friend Esther Snippe “Facebooked me” telling me that if I was going to be in Lithuania, I had to go to Riga (the capital of Latvia). Due to the Schengen Agreement, my time in Europe was limited to three months. In all of my years (3 + 1½) of traveling, I had never entered a country and only gone to one town. That just isn’t in line with how I travel.
But Riga and its many fine Art Nouveau buildings beaconed and the Schengen limitations make me crazy — so I made an exception and went to Riga.
Sigita and I went to the bus station the day before to purchase my ticket. I typically “wing it” more but in this case buying my ticket ahead of time was recommended. It’s a good thing we did this because it turned out that the ticket had to be purchased with cash so we had to go into the mall next door to find an ATM.
Want to join me on my 2½-hour bus ride from Šiauliai (show-leh) Lithuania to Riga Latvia?
This was in a mini-bus, by the way. We left the Šiauliaiand bus station at 10:30 am and arrival in Riga was set at 1:00 pm. We actually arrived ahead of schedule. The fare was 33 Lita ($12.77). [Riga was on the Euro at this point, but Lithuania was still 5 months from its official adoption of the Euro.] The paper I’m holding on the bus it that ticket. (Web safety note: personal info on this ticket is blurred.)
Departing Šiauliai, Lithuania
Here’s the drive out of the Šiauliai bus station, into the countryside and up to the border to Latvia.
At 11:25, we crossed the border into Latvia, so now I introduce you to Latvia. Both countries are part of the Schengen Agreement so there was no border check. However, I don’t like to display photos of borders, just in case the checkpoint is needed again sometime.
And now we approach the Daugava River.
The heart of Riga lies just on the other side as you can see from this map.
Upon my arrival in Riga, I set out to get to the home of my next host. He had also hosted Esther, the same woman who suggested I visit Riga and he was kind enough to agree to host me as well.
I glimpsed the outdoor market to my right, the shopping mall across the street, and the old city to my left. I was looking forward to getting to know Riga.
But I was carrying my backpack and my host expected me so for now, it was time to board a tram.
Oh, I’d asked about getting a phone SIM and was directed to a kiosk right in the bus station but the guy working at the kiosk had no clue what he was selling. I opted to wait and get a SIM later.