I encountered my first sex tourist within moments of stepping off the plane in Riga, Latvia. After nearly 35 hours of travelling around the world I was tired and cranky, but the cool weather and barren winter landscape outside the airport perked me up -especially because I was the only one waiting for the bus to the city in a shirt and shorts. It was quieter than expected, welcomingly so, and I really felt like I was as far from home as I could possibly be.
“You must be chilly,” came an American accent from behind me, and I turned to see a portly chap with a huge set of fake teeth. He circled me as Latvians trundled in and out of the terminal, dressed in jackets and beanies. “Of course, a good looking guy like you won’t have any trouble finding a woman to keep you warm. My name’s Kirk, and I come here every year to spend time with the most beautiful women God ever breathed life into.”
And then, as if I didn’t know what his game was, he pulled out a five-Euro note and waved it at a fat woman who was walking past and said, “I pay them to fuck me.” Thankfully, the bus rocked up before Kirk could tell me anything more about his putrid life, and I was on my way to Riga, baby!
The bus trip from the airport to the centre of Riga is brief but incredibly interesting
(I caught Minibus 222, by the way, after waiting ages for the big, lime green Airport Express to show up. It only cost me two Eurobux and made only two stops before hitting the city), passing through historic buildings, Soviet-era units and slums, all scattered amongst parks and gardens. It’s truly unlike any place I’ve ever been to, and things only got more interesting when I made it into the city proper.
After stashing my bags, I did what any adventurous young tourist does when confronted with a strange and fascinating new city – I grabbed my camera and then ran, giggling, to the nearest park and took a photo of myself fucking a statue of a horse.
After a brief yet informative encounter with the police, I took off to explore the city, trying to beat back my heartbreaking jetlag with as many cheap beers as I could swallow. The old town, where most of the hotels and sites are located, is absolutely gorgeous, with tiny alleyways opening up to wide squares lined with cafes, restaurants and pubs. There are churches and towers and all sorts of interesting things to check out, and it was fun to just wander aimlessly, confused as much from the haphazard layout as from the fact I hadn’t slept in two days.
While the world would probably be a better place if Kirk was locked up for the rest of his life, he wasn’t wrong about the lasses. I don’t know the local language, so I can only assume there are signs banning fat chicks, because they all have cracking bodies and faces that you’d love to kiss. It’s one of life’s great ironies that all these gorgeous women live in a country where they have to wear 18 layers of clothing to keep from freezing.
There are plenty of public transport options, with trams and buses rolling over the place, but it’s a small enough city to just walk around. While I haven’t had a chance to check it out properly, I can already tell it’s the sort of place I want to spend time in. A year ago I hung out in Indonesia and India, and they were both such difficult places to check out that it put me of travelling for a while. Especially in India, I couldn’t go anywhere without being hassled (or having people try to rob, or even eat me), and the public transport is fucked in both places, so it’s awesome to be in Latvia, a relaxed place that has oodles (great word, especially when rhymed with doodles) of stuff to see, and no roadblocks to seeing it.
Being a classy chap, I soon found myself on the waterfront, overlooking a glorious sunset above the Daugava river, scoffing fast food and beers out of a plastic bag while chatting to pretty ladies on Tinder. I ended up getting pretty drunk and tripped over a statue on my way back to my hostel. Looks like those bastards are getting their revenge!
Beer of the day:
I’m going to have to give it to Apintis Sencu. It’s a cheeky little ale that weighs in at 5.3% ABV and cost only 69 cents for a 568ml tin, so there’s a good chance it could be used as lawnmower fuel at a pinch, but it did it’s job. I’d like to say it had floral touches or something, but it doesn’t – it’s just a good beer for the working man at the end of a long day (or a non-working man at the end of two days travelling).
Kebab of the day:
A large kebab and large fries cost 6.10 Euros from Balli Kebabs and was a welcome, if unmemorable, meal. The ‘bab was a little thin, without too much filling, but what there was of it was lovely. I asked for spicy, but there was no zip to be found.
Did I find the greatest love the world has ever known?
No. The closest I went was talking to the pretty German girl who was sitting next to me on the plane, who gave me a two-word reply and then put her headphones on and watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory.
Remember, I’ll be putting up a new blog every single day as I make my way from Latvia to Greece over the next few months. It’s all new stuff, coming to you as it happens – so subscribe, or don’t subscribe, or do whatever you want. Honestly, I’m having fun no matter what you do.