This time our plan was to visit our neighbours – Latvians, and to spend a weekend in the capital Riga. Despite the fact that we have visited about 20 countries, we have never been in Latvia so far. Probably, the main reason is the fact that we try to go somewhere where temperature is higher than at home country, and Latvian climate is very similar to Lithuanian one. Now, when we are back, we are very happy that we have finally visited our neighbours.
Despite the fact that we planned to spend only 2 and a half days in Riga, we had to prepare for this trip properly. I can say that we did our homework, but it could have been done better. If we had plenty of time to stay in Riga (at least two weeks), it is very likely that we wouldn’t need very accurate planning. However, our situation was completely different because we had only about 2 days in Riga, and it means that we had to prepare quite accurate plan. The less time you have for travelling, the more time you should spend for planning.
This time, we chose to travel by bus and it was the first time for our children to travel in this way. The distance is not very long – it is just about 300 km or around 4 hours by bus. We travelled with ECOLINES bus. It was quite comfortable, with WIFI, free coffee and tabs (very useful when traveling with children). Just a gap between the seats could be bigger (especially, it was not comfortable to work with laptop when a passenger in front of me reclined his seat back). During trip, we had only 1 stop in the midway. Unfortunately, our bus collided with truck and one of the front windows was broken! Luckily, nobody was injured! Despite the fact that this problem was solved quite quickly, we lost at least one hour and the opportunity to visit the motor museum. Thus, you can plan a lot of things, but sometimes real situations and events correct your agenda.
Everyone has his own priorities and requirements. We prefer budget accommodations because for the amount of money that we would spend for hotel we can visit a few new places. This time, we used Airbnb and found nice apartments about one and a half kilometres away from downtown. Walking this distance with children is possible, and quite a good opportunity for sightseeing (choosing different route each time). This time we travelled with our friends and their 2 children so we chose quite big apartments (2 bedrooms with 2 double beds and 4 single beds for children, 1 living room, and 1 bathroom). Apartments were very clean and spacious. For my family it costed only about € 60 for 2 nights or about € 7-8 per person for one day. I think, this price is really good. What is more, it allows you to travel more.
In Riga, it is quite easy to use public transport services like buses, trolleybuses, and trams. Tickets can be purchased from a driver (price is € 2), but it is better to purchase a ticket at street kiosks. This time, we used only trams and bought tickets from a street kiosk. It costed € 4.6 for our family (4 members) to go from downtown to the Riga’s Zoo and back (travel is free for children up to 7 years old).
The very first thing that we learned and for sure we will use it is our backpacks and luggage. This time, we took a couple of backpacks and one luggage. However, traveling by foot (for example, distance from a bus station to apartments was 1.5 km, so it was not very comfortable to walk with a luggage) is kind of different experience. When we came back home we checked all our stuff and removed all that could be left at home. Guess what? We could leave 12 kg at home. This is much, if you must carry it with you for a longer time. What is more, it started snowing on the last day of our trip, and it was a real challenge to overcome by small wheels of our luggage.
A phone charger was one of the best items among our stuff. As we walked by foot a lot (with small children), each meter must be considered, so we used our smart phones with GPS navigation for quite a long time. It would be impossible to survive and not to get lost without additional charger.
Shoes and clothes should be suitable for walking rather for going to restaurants. It caused a problem as I had to walk with uncomfortable shoes for a long time. Next day, I did not want them. My husband saved me because he had additional pair of shoes, more suitable for long distances.
Please share your experience what would be usuful to visit or do in Riga old town with kids (not boring for them)!