I’m summer girl through and through. At the same, I’ve been dreaming about spending New Year’s abroad (with Steffen) for the longest time now — but going on such a trip (at least within Europe) meant finally confronting myself with winter travel, something I had been putting off for years.
Plane tickets were a little too pricey over the holidays, but since I could take the first week of January 2017 off at work too, I figured leaving for a trip on January 2nd was close enough to New Year’s and also the perfect way to begin a new chapter. I wasn’t too picky about the destination, but I did have my eyes on the Baltic States — if I’m finally traveling in the winter, I might as well go all in right?
To be honest, I chose Riga because the flight prices were affordable and it was a new region for me (plus I was also kind of hoping we could squeeze in a day trip to Estonia, which sadly didn’t happen though). Needless to say, we flew in into Latvia terribly unprepared. Case in point: It took us serval days to understand why our hotel lobby still had a massive Christmas tree up and everyone kept wishing us Merry Christmas. I had totally forgotten that Orthodox Christmas is on January 6.
And pretty much the only word we picked up in Latvian was “alus” — “beers”. But arriving this unprepared certainly had its advantages: We were completely surprised by how pretty Riga is and how exceptional food, coffee, and craft beer are there. We totally lucked out with the weather, too: Yes, it was freezing (and I’m talking -25 degrees Celsius at night here), but it had started snowing right when we were checking into our hotel and we experienced the city as the most magical winter wonderland.
We didn’t really do a lot of sightseeing, because we were busy drinking and eating ourselves through the top recommended places on Foursquare, but we did hop on the train to Jurmala one day to see the famous resort town by Baltic Sea. I swear, standing on the beach at -13 degrees in the craziest wind was the coldest I felt in my life — I could barely even press the shutter on my camera and it took forever until I felt my face again.
But although I really, really despise being cold, freezing in Latvia was enjoyable somehow: The snow wasn’t gross or muddy but perfectly powdery, snow storms and winter sunsets were fun to photograph — and whenever we were too cold there was always a cozy bar with garlicky rye chips and delicious beer we could flee into.
I’m not sure I’m fully converted to winter travel now (probably not), but Riga in winter was definitely the perfect introduction.
And if you’re still wondering: On the average day in Riga, I was wearing a pair of wool tights, two pairs of leggings, and two pairs of socks on top of each other.
Have you been to Riga? Would you dare to visit in winter?