Thursday, June 3, 2010

Restaurants and Shopping

We haven't yet mentioned how bright it is outside at nighttime.  Because Latvia is so far north, the days are quite long in the summer and rather short in the winter.  As an example, here is a picture taken of the Latvian National Opera House last night (June 2, 2010) at 10:00 p.m.!
So this is the consumer-related portion of our blog.  Our Latvia residence is on Merkela iela, and there is a large mall close by called Origo.  The malls here have a variety of shops, including clothing, alterations, hair salon, grocery store, and restaurants.  Although we have done a great deal of our own cooking, a great way to experience a new culture is to actually get-out and grab a meal somewhere.  With this in mind, we offer some of our favorite restaurant chains for your enjoyment.
  • Lido - Latvian traditional food restaurants that is cafeteria-style.  We are fond of kartupeli (potatoes), vistas (chicken) stroganoff, and pankukas ar sieru (crepe-like pancakes with cheese), in addition to other items.  The prices at Lido are quite reasonable.
  • Cili Pica - This pizza joint has really good Italian-style thin-crust pizza.  We decided early-on to purchase a "friends" discount card for this place, and we're hoping to learn how to replicate the thin, yet soft, crust on the pizza when we set-up the pizzeria at home in Marvyille.  Card-holders can feed a family of 4 for quite cheap during the hours of 2-6 p.m.
  • Gan bei - A Chinese restaurant that is excellent.  One is located in Origo.
  • Double Coffee - There are 80-million DCs in Riga alone!  We like it because it is conveniently located close to our apartment and the JVLMA, and the kids enjoyed eating the crepes.
There are numerous cafes and mom-and-pop restaurants throughout Riga which are excellent as well.

Most eating establishments here have outdoor eating opportunities when the weather is nice.  There are a variety of really great pubs (especially the outdoor beer gardens in Old-Town as seen in the pictures below), but Bill's favorite is Alus Ordenis, located close to the Music Academy.  It's a basement establishment that serves Uzavas Tumsais, a really fantastic dark alus (beer).  BTW, Bill's list of tasty barley-pop continues to grow, but here's the top-3 thus far: Valmiermuzias, Uzavas Tumsais, and Bauskas Alus.
We have enjoyed meeting with Mike Johnson, owner of the Patricia Tourist Office (  He is incredibly helpful with information, guidance, electrical equipment, linen items, and packing tape, among other things!  His office is located at Elizabetes iela 22.

Several of our friends at the Riga Reformed Church work in a small handmade art and clothing shop called Pumpa.  It's located at Brivibas iela 166 and a short description can be found here (Pumpa).  They are open weekdays from 11:00-7:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11:00-4:00 p.m.  They have really interesting clothing, accessories, and hand-crafted items...Pumpa is highly recommended if you have a chance to visit Riga!

Riga's Central Market is basically a set of airplane-hangar buildings that is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.  Here's a picture taken from the top of St. Peter's Church.
The Richardson ladies are back in the United States and have recovered from jet-lag, which is a good thing.  Ciao for now!