Central Market in Riga
I like markets. Except if there are too many pigeons. Then I try to avoid them. But the Central Market in Riga is safe in that sense. It’s neat, well-organised and… warm. Believe me, you’ll appreciate that aspect if you come to Riga in April because it’s really cold out there. It even snowed last night (just check the pic below!)
Now, the Central Market, which is located very close to the Old Town, is not just one place. There are four pavilions and each one is specialized in a certain type of product: dairy products, produce, fish and meat. Most of the times you’ll have to figure out what’s what unless you speak Latvian or Russian (which is not the case with me!).
Remember, I love Latvia but people here are not the friendliest I’ve ever met. I know I shouldn’t generalize (the lady in the bookshop was super friendly and the waiter in the Armenian restaurant was also really nice to us), but don’t expect people to smile at you or even say “hello” when you arrive at their stand. However, some ladies were friendly enough to let us try some Latvian cheeses and they even tried to speak English.
If you had a time machine (my dream!) and you had the idea to visit the market during World War I, you wouldn’t find the Latvian ladies or gentlemen selling their fresh products. At the time, the pavilions served as zeppelin hangers. Fancy that! The zeppelins were, of course, not used as massive flying billboards but rather for military purposes.
So, what can you find at this big, warm, pigeon-free market? All sorts of things: black bread (delicious!), hemp butter (yummy and for only 2 EUR), pickled vegetables, fish which are not always completely dead (this is not for the faint of heart, but if you look at the bright side, it means that it’s fresh!), smoked meat, fresh meat, cooked meat, nice fresh vegetables… you name it!
And, if you’re on a tight budget… you can have a nice cheap meal and a coffee before going for a walk around this amazing town. But one last tip, make sure you’re warmly dressed!