If you’ve read my previous posts, you might be starting to wonder why I continue to live in Riga. To be honest, I’m starting to wonder myself. But instead of focusing on the fact that it’s -15 on the 15th of March, I’ve decided to compile a list of some of the things I like about living here. So here goes, in no particular order:
1. Seven months of the year, your wine is already nicely chilled by the time you get home.
2. This lady ‘performs’ near the Freedom Monument every evening and never fails to lift my spirits. When I say performs, she moves the bellows in and out and presses a few buttons but every tune sounds exactly the same. And while I know Latvian isn’t the richest language in the world, I’m pretty sure Latvian songs have more lyrics than ‘na na na’. However, when I gave her some money and took this photo, she said thank you in Russian so she may very well be singing Russian songs. Who knows? I’m just happy I can sing along.
3. My local supermarket has started to stock ‘Heinz Beans’.
4. No matter how miserable you look, there’s always somebody, or 750,000 somebodies who look more miserable than you do. It’s like when you’re feeling a little blue about your life, then watch an EastEnders omnibus and realise things aren’t so bad after all. You’re not in love with your cousin, your husband hasn’t run off with a 22-year old and you haven’t had Phil Mitchell’s baby. Life is good.
5. I love that The Bridge of Padlocked Love is so close to the Freedom Monument. So near and yet so far. Some Latvian at some point must have had a sense of humour.
6. Looking at Latvian girls forces me to ask myself if I really need that cake. Invariably the answer is ‘yes’ but I figure that just asking the question is a step in the right direction.
7. Speaking of cakes, Riga has so many fantastic cafés – my current favourite being Gustav Beķereja. Most afternoons I can be found there, working my way through their vast selection of delights, one by one. The owner seems to have adopted me as some kind of stray Irish pet and we have many the stilted, but cheery, conversation in pidgin English/Latvian.
I have, however, learnt not to go there with any male colleagues. She’s so used to seeing me engrossed in a book that the one time I did, she got over-excited and started miming proposals and wedding rings on fingers behind his back. The poor guy must have thought I had some kind of weird twitch as I kept on shaking my head at her and frowning, then realising he was looking at me and smiling again. She’s still asking me where my ‘boyfriend’ is three months later.
8. If you ever feel like shooting something (and you probably will), you can go to an old Soviet bunker and let rip with Glocks, AK-47s and Winchester pump action shotguns. Picturing myself as some sort of Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider figure, I failed to realise that at 5 foot 1, most of the guns would be bigger and heavier than I am. But in spite of the fact that I could hardly stand, I kept everyone else on their toes by enthusiastically swinging round, gun in hand, every time I let off a shot – I guess just to make sure everyone had seen how well I’d hit the target. Unfortunately, it was always my friend’s target not mine.
9. Riga really is beautiful.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m hoping to add to the list when my brain thaws out.