I had one week off from teaching for Spring Break this year, and I decided to make the most of it with a trip to Rigå, Latvia. Now you may be raising your eyebrows and thinking…really? Latvia? Why? Excellent question. No offense to Latvia, but it’s not necessarily what many envision for a spring break holiday. The American dream tends to revolve more around sunshine, warmth, beautiful scenery, and some kind of alcoholic beverage in hand. That wasn’t really the case in Latvia; in fact, it was brutally cold in March, a different, more piercing type of cold than I have ever experienced (it made the Scandinavian cold in Denmark feel like a tropical paradise). I had hoped to have many more recommendations to provide regarding food and drink in Rigå, but unfortunately, was left very little time to explore due to a bad bout of food poisoning (ideal Spring Break trip? Not necessarily). So all I can leave you with are two recommended locations to visit. One, of course, involves coffee, and the other involves great beer!
1. Rocket Bean Roastery
Miera iela 29, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1001, Latvia
Located just a ten minute walk away from my hotel, I was in coffee shop heaven from the moment I stepped in the door. Complete with wooden tables, an abundance of candles, and intricately unique drop-down lighting fixtures, this coffee shop encompassed the perfect blend of rustic chic. Everything from the atmosphere to the music made this place a hipster’s paradise, but also a place where I could have (and did) spend hours, happily. Latvian culture tends to be much more reserved than American culture, but in this coffee shop, I saw people smiling, joking around, and felt a little more close to home than I had elsewhere. Its menu was complete with the usual delicious baked goods that you would except in a coffee shop, as well as heartier sandwiches to enjoy during lunchtime. The coffee was top-notch, and they also offered a variety of unique hot teas mixed with berries, displayed in a way I had never before seen. If I lived in Latvia, I would go here on the reg.
Aristida Briāna iela 9a-2, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1001, Latvia
Of course, when I made the decision to travel to Latvia, I had not yet decided that this blog was going to be born, and thus, I have no pictures of what was hands-down one of my favorite places to grab a beer that I have ever been to in Europe. The bar was incredibly small, but incredibly lively, and in a place that I felt like was cold and eerily quiet, hearing the noise permeating the air as I walked closer to the bar was very refreshing. It was lively but chill, and the air was marked with much conversation. It had an incredibly appealing atmosphere, with one long wooden table, stools dispersed throughout, and beautiful, warm-glowing lighting fixtures (what is it with Latvia and the lighting fixtures?) The atmosphere was right up my ally (seriously, google pictures of Labietis, I am infuriated that I didn’t snap one myself), and the draft beer was excellent! It is all brewed locally and the staff is very knowledgeable about the selections and willing to spend time recommending what they think you might like. The music, loud and slightly angsty rock-and-roll, didn’t seem to fit the vibe, yet the incongruity of it all was perfect. While there, I recognized another group of travelers (a group of three Danes who were siblings and taking a long weekend to explore some of the national parks), and of course connected with them right away. It was a terrific night, and Labietis is definitely a must-see in my books if you are looking to hang out, grab a beer, and enjoy some time with friends!