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Archive for March 25th, 2008

It’s not as if I am running out of cities to visit. In fact, I’d be happy to return to many places across Europe. When I travel with my family, there are other considerations. In the summer, there is a strong demand for somewhere sunny with accommodation close to the beach. The transport should not be too tedious, either, but they are happy to travel around Greece by ferry.

The Easter break is something else. We have outgrown Legoland, and wanted something different. A more or less random search for tickets made me book a trip to Riga, Latvia.

When I was young and idealistic, freedom for the Baltic states was one of the issues I campaigned for. I have hardly been there since they regained their independence, just a brief business visit to Vilnius in the early nineties.

Well, we packed up and arrived at Oslo airport at a very early hour on Monday of Easter week. We had a rather important errand before checking in, as I had discovered the day before that the passport of our youngest had expired in February. Luckily, it seemed like the policeman manning the border control station had issued emergency passports before.

After a stop over in Stockholm we landed in Riga, and had a taxi waiting for booked through the hotel. We were downtown in twenty minutes, and checked in at a quiet hotel run by exile Latvians in Britain. Our family room was large and airy with a spotless bathroom, and we were in the middle of the medieval Old Town.

This is when I turn on my camera and get the message Change the battery pack. Did I bring the charger? Nope. So these reports will partly be illustrated by photos from my mobile phone, partly by photos from my wife’s camera, even one nicked from another web site…

It was afternoon already, and we went out for a walk to get our bearings and to buy some snacks. I was, naturally, soon wandering along the beer shelves of the local Rimi supermarkets, with a splendid selection for national beers. The room even had a fridge, so I picked some bottles for later consumption.

We asked the receptionist for a restaurant suited for families, and he gave us the directions for Alus seta, a cafeteria style restaurants five minutes away. Alus Seta means something like the beer barrel, so in addition to a broad selection of pickles, salads, grilled fish and meat they also had five beers on tap, including two of their own. The restaurant is a part of the LIDO chain of restaurants, more about them later. Together with my plate heaped high with pork, potatoes and sauerkraut I ordered half a liter of the Medallus, which was labelled as a mead, but was actually a pilsener brewed with added honey. Lovely beer that was not cloyingly sweet.

It looked like this was more of a beer destination than expected…..

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