Last known location: London, England

First Stop Riga

After all the months of talk we’ve finally got going, and touched down in the Latvian capital Riga on Wednesday night. Everything went to plan with Wizz Air and we turned up at the tastefully decorated Tiger Hostel in the early evening. We were the only people staying there, so having it to ourselves was quite nice!

We’d planned to get the train to St Petersburg the following evening, so went across the road to the station. Blank looks from the station staff though, so ended up ordering them online! Time was getting on after that and Riga in October isn’t the warmest, so we ended up just going for a couple of beers and some Latvian hotpot!

On Wednesday we had the day to spend in Riga before getting the train. The old part of city was lovely but not but that big, so a day was plenty of time to explore the old churches and squares. Paid a visit to the Skyline Bar, on the 26th floor of a hotel, which gave great views out over the city, and also provided Gem with her first cocktail of the trip – Day 1, so it didn’t take long!

We boarded the 13 hour, 680km Baltija train to St Petersburg just after 6. We seemed to be the only English speakers, and had tickets in an open sleeping compartment, but it wasn’t that busy and we ended up with 4 bunks to ourselves, so instead taking one top and one bottom, we took the bottom two – which Gem would later regret!

It was still quite early and we weren’t crossing the Russian border until around midnight, so we decided to have a few beers. A few of the Russians on the train opted for the vodka instead and were going backwards and forwards past us to the restaurant car, looking more and more unsteady each time!

We finally left Latvia just before midnight, only to be woken up again half an hour later by a Russian border guard who was particularly unimpressed with Gem’s 5 year old passport photo. After giving her the eye for at least a minute he grudgingly accepted it was her and wandered off with his box of passports. Twenty minutes later he was back with our passports stamped and we were in!

We thought that was it for the night, but at about 4am Gem woke me up saying we had to get off the train! A middle aged woman and an older man were stood there looking at us none too pleased and giving us instructions that we obviously didn’t understand. Gem then decided to show her passport to the woman, which didn’t have the desired effect. The Provodnitsa (carriage attendant) then arrived to see what was going on, and she wasn’t best pleased either. It turned out that they had just got on and had booked the bunks opposite us, one of which Gem had been asleep in! We then had to make up our top bunk, and swiftly move all our stuff so they could get some sleep!

Thankfully we managed to get a few hours sleep after that,  and were woken up again at about 7 to a frosty sunrise just outside St Petersburg. A couple of hours later we arrived in the city and stumbled off into the cold to find our hostel, and hopefully a hot shower!

  1. Verity 8 Oct, 2010

    Fantastic! I am so glad that you’re there safely and am LOVING the blog already! Miss you. xx

  2. John 8 Oct, 2010

    Not very gallant of you to make Gem give up her bed. Pleased your making Friends and copiing so well with the language issues. John

  3. Rose 8 Oct, 2010

    Riga looks lovely and a beautiful blue sky too! Expect you’re pleased you took a fleece Gem and even Dan is wearing a sweater!! The cocktail looks interesting!! Quite an eventful evening on the train. Hope you fare better on the one to Moscow! Enjoy St Petersburg. Some great photos.

    Lots more please!

  4. Mónica Quinn-Doblas 9 Oct, 2010

    Hey Gem, haven’t spoken to you since our CELTA course at International House. It’s great to know you’re enjoying the world. Will be willing to hear about your adventures. I’m sure you’ll have a lot of good advice to give me. Wish you a wonderful experience. And by the way, what are the destinations you’re heading for and for how long will you be travelling around the world? XX.

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