Came to Riga for lurve? On the run from some dodgy people back home? Or maybe, like me, you just wanted to get out of the arsehole of Poland as quickly as possible. Whatever your reasons, you’re here now so let’s have a look at some of the delights that await you.
Phase 1: Years 1-2
You get off that Ryanair flight and you start to party like the beers are 1.50. Because, well, the beers really are 1.50. You make friends with a slew of locals and foreigners and when you walk into a bar, people shout out your name. The barman has your drink ready by the time you reach the bar and you start tabs in every bar in town.
You experience your first Baltic winter but it doesn’t really bother you too much – mainly because you’re drunk 80% of the time. Snow is pretty. You go ice-skating and snowboard down some very small Latvian hills.
You have high hopes of learning Latvian – it doesn’t really seem that hard, right? You’ve got ‘paldies’ and ‘labdien’ down pat – surely the rest will follow?
You also do things like go shooting, because really, where else would they give a 5’1″ woman an AK-47 and let her go nuts with it?
You are quite tickled by the misery on the faces of the people, and when they let doors slam in your face or barge into you on the street, you smile to yourself and say ‘Oh, must be a Latvian thing!’ and cheerily go about the rest of your day.
Your flat is held together by duct tape and a few rusty nails but you think this is ‘charming’.
You experience your first Latvian ‘Līgo!’ and after 3 days of using a loo in the middle of a field and cleaning yourself with baby wipes, you feel very Latvian.
If you’re a man, you lust after the rather attractive Latvian ladies. If you’re a woman, well, you’ve always got cheap beer.
You also work. A little.
Phase 2: Years 3-5
Everyone in every bar knows your name, which by now is not such a good thing.
You decide to get your head out of your arse and your arse off the bar stool and set up your own company. Things go well and business is good. Now you don’t have time to go out any more.
You realise that you say ‘paldies’ around 8 times more per transaction than any Latvian has ever said over the course of their entire lives.
‘Paldies’ is still pretty much the only thing you can say.
The misery starts to get to you and you frighten yourself when you see your face reflected in shop windows.
Snow sucks. It’s cold, your feet are wet and something as simple as taking out the bins takes on Everest-climbing proportions.
If one more person lets a door slam in your face, you’re going to kill someone.
If you see one more tree, or if one more person says ‘mushroom’, you might just kill yourself.
You think about moving on.
Phase 3: Year 5 – death
You don’t move on.
You spend most nights on ‘your’ bar stool, talking to other people who didn’t move on either about that time you ‘almost left back in 2013′.
You start to go a little mad.
If you’re a man, you start dating women in their early 20s who like wallets.
If you’re a woman, well, you’ve still got the cheap beer.