I’ve decided to return to Riga. The first response by the majority of my friends was “Where is Riga?”. “You know, capital of Latvia…in between Finland and Russia”.
Also Latvia is not to be confused with Latveria which is the kingdom ruled by the supervillian Dr Doom.
So why Latvia? Well for one thing, I realized that there was no conceivable scenario where I could afford to live in Western Europe without turning to prostitution. Thing is, I have 3 months off work and need to stick to a budget. So my options were: go somewhere cheaper and live comfortably or live in Paris and maintain a strict diet baguettes, cheese and tap water. This was a no-brainer especially since I’m lactose intolerant.
Incidentally, I was offered a job on a summer camp in Czech Republic, teaching English but wanted to live somewhere new for a change. I narrowed it down to either Krakow or Riga, cities with rich culture, beautiful architecture and beer so cheap you can’t afford not to drink. I finally settled on Riga, after being offered a sublet through the Couchsurfing network.Apart from hitch-hiking, the cheapest way I could go from Paris to Riga was by flying to Kaunas by Ryanair. Yes, Kaunas is in another country ie. Lithuania. But from there the bus is only 10 euros to Riga.
My Ryanair flight was actually enjoyable. I’ve actually been pretty lucky with Ryanair since “my Ryanair bribe”. Once I arrived in Kaunas, I just had to take Bus 22 to get myself downtown. The only problem was it was now 1 am and my bus to Riga was in only 4 hours. I thought I’d be able to spend the time in a pub downtown but the whole city seemed to be deserted. I decided instead to head straight to the Central Bus Station.
For whatever reason I was expecting the Kaunas Central Bus Station to be modern and shiny. After all, if you’re going to put the name “Central” in there, you’re setting some expectations. Unfortunately, it was not much more than a dimly lit shack. There were two young women waiting there, so I went to confirm that I was in the right place.
“Yes, but you know this place is not safe for black people”. I couldn’t but help to chuckle at the irony of the situation. But then I started to worry. I had all my stuff with me and didn’t want a repeat of being mugged in Peru.
I thanked them and left to find refuge for the next few hours. Fortunately, just a few blocks down was the Central Train Station. Now, this place looked fancy. Beautiful old architecture and very well lit. I went in and parked myself until it was time to catch my bus.
Next stop: Riga!