We traveled from Pärnu, Estonia and headed towards Riga, Latvia on an express bus. These buses are cool. They have super comfy seats, a fancy bathroom, wireless internet, and a coffee bar. They also make no stops between the point of departure and the destination. We didn't know that when we booked the tickets and we were meeting my Uncle in Baltezers, about 20 km outside of Riga. The bus driver didn't speak a lick of any language we knew and seemed unwilling to stop for us. It took a lot of persistince but we were dropped off close to Baltezers - on the side of the highway - with a dead phone - and with cars zipping past us at 100 km/h. We walked to a roundabout right off the highway and waited. Luckily Uncle Jerry is a smart guy and was able to find us, in the middle of knowhere, in under 25 minutes. From this point things only got better.
Let me give a brief summary of Uncle Jerry's story for all you viewers at home. Jerry moved to the Baltics in the early 90's with Peace Corps. He liked it, saw potential, and stayed. He eventually married a fellow Peace Corp volunteer, Denise, and settled in Riga where they are raising their 3 daughters. Denise teaches at the university and Jerry operates Rat Bastard Management (really). Despite the wiseguy name, the company is quite successful and Jerry is well acquainted with all the big whigs and scalawags. The combination of them having hookups and knowing their stuff makes Jerry and Denise incredible hosts. We were treated like kings.
They took us out in Riga, for hands down, the most lavish night of my life. I didn't get real pics because I was too busy enjoying the evening. First we visited Taka Spa. Incredible. I'd never been to a spa before and this place was crazy.
You start in the dressing room (which is crazy fancy) then you head out to the 'pools and baths' and hang out go in between the sauna, steam room and three different temperatured pools. 45 minutes of just relaxing. Next - hot stone massage. So dope. Who needs adderall? Get me a massage and I'll hear every word you say!
After the massage, they send you to a quiet room to drink tea and eat biscuits and crap. Sounds ritzy fritzy but I loved it. You won't find a spa like this in Atlanta, I checked.
After the spa we went to an upscale restaurant around the corner that was called La Boheme, I think. Whatever it was, it was delicious. This is a meal I remember for a while. Great food in great company and there were little fly's painted in the urinals. Target practice!
Latvia isn't known for it's food, but Jerry and Denise sure know where to go get some serious grub. I have never eaten better than my stint in Riga.
The Hotel...oh the hotel.
Jerry and Denise really hooked us up with this one - the executive suite. I never imagined I'd stay at place like this. This was a brand new hotel and it looked spectacular from the outside. When we walked through the revolving doors, I became a kid again. Everything was exciting and new. The room was insane. Two bathrooms, two TV's, two showers, huge living area, office, huge bed, heated floors, heated towel rack, an amazing view of Old Town Riga, and our very own sauna. Nothing was cheapy, everything was top notch.
The people at the hotel said everything in the fridge and all the food was free or 'taken care of' in our room. I called the front desk three times to confirm, and then I completely took advantage of the situation. I left nothing behind. It was awesome - awesome until I found out that I was misinformed. Sorry Jerry!
We were in Riga for a few days and we saw/did much more. Next up, Jerry's furniture refurbishing shop and other fun things.