Tag Archives: Riga

The Baltic States

Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania aren’t the most glamorous tourist destinations on the planet. These three northern European nations are cold, lonely, and full of scowling drunks, but they’re also overflowing with history and charm. I had a wonderful time walking down ancient streets, exploring forests, checking out concentration camps and torture chambers (alright, ‘a wonderful time’ isn’t the best way to describe those experiences), and stuffing my face full of kebabs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My first stop was the Latvian capital of Riga, where I had sex with a statue of a horse and got chased by police for being a drunk. Fortunately, I escaped, or it would’ve been a very short holiday indeed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My journey took me to Riga’s Radio and TV Tower, which provided an epic view out over the city’s weird slums and dancing people.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From there I headed to the drab and dreary Salaspils concentration camp, where children were harvested by the Nazis for their blood, before finishing the day with a climb to the top of St Peter’s steeple (no, I don’t mean his penis).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I discovered that Latvian people are strange and moody, and they it’s completely normal to have a giant tank full of fish sitting next to the yoghurt at the supermarket.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Moving on to Tallinn, Estonia brought with it a turn of good weather, which was perfect for drinking in the parks and molesting more statues. The views weren’t too bad, either!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nothing’s open in Tallinn on a Monday, but that didn’t stop me from exploring castles, climbing through Soviet-era buildings, getting addicted to pot and falling on a woman’s dog.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Helsinki is the northernmost capital city on the planet, so it was a waste of time taking my G-string along. Still, I managed to sit on a turtle and annoy some old people, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nobody does torture quite as well as the Soviets (well, my ex-girlfriend was pretty good at it, but that’s a story for another time), so my visit to the Patarei Sea Fortress Prison was a real opener. I was on my best behaviour, lest someone decide to cut my gizzards out and feed them to a dog.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Parnu is Estonia’s summer capital, but when I went there I pretty much had the whole place to myself, so I took a long, romantic walk on my lonesome and then scoffed a whole pizza.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m a rugged, outdoorsy type, so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to explore Estonia’s Soomaa National Park. I kayaked, I climbed trees, I lost all my clothes in the middle of a frozen bog…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Charles Bronson isn’t really dead, and he spends his time checking out Vilnius, Lithuania! I followed him around all day, until he became upset and went home. I just wanted to be his friend…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There’s a hill in Lithuania with about eleventy-bajillion crosses on it, and they call it – get this – the Hill of Crosses! I went there to count them all, but got bored and confused after getting to 53, so instead I embarrassed myself on a train. Weeeee!

Camping, Latvian style

vlcsnap-2016-04-18-10h27m04s689

All roads lead to Riga, so I’ve spent the last few days back in the Latvian capital with my lady friend Marty. She’s smart and pretty and nice to me, and really quite pleasant for a Norwegian. Thankfully, she also has poor taste in men and a soft spot for a Gosfordian accent. One thing I’ll never let her do again, though, is plan a camping trip.

vlcsnap-2016-04-18-10h50m18s989
Still looking good after a night of sleeping in sub-zero temperatures

We headedout towards the beach at 8:45pm, as the sun was setting behind the Riga skyline, and made it to the sand just as the northern European twilight was fading. We set up the tent and the fire (alright, Marty set up the fire after my disastrous attempt) as the cold settled around us, and when everything was organised we lay back on the sand and ate good food and drank good alcohol under a full moon. It was a fantastic night with fantastic company.

DSC01447
It would be even more romantic without the empty beer cans in the background

Bedtime was a different story, though. No, no, I’m not going to get rude, it’s just that Latvia gets really, really, really bloody cold at night. Seriously, there are snowmen with willies warmer than a Latvian evening. And despite Marty having spent most of her life in climates too cold for human habitation, we were unprepared for the elements and spent the evening shivering and fighting off the effects of frostbite. Seriously, the next morning I was counting my fingers and toes to make sure none had dropped off in the evening.

vlcsnap-2016-04-18-10h48m21s874
Showing off my sausage. Marty was not impressed

It was the perfect way to end my (longer than expected) trip to Latvia. Now, it’s time to head south to the beautiful land of Lithuania, where dragons roam wild and free and all the women  are strong enough to bend iron bars with their bare hands. I won’t be going camping down there, though – well, unless one of those Lithuanian women with the strong hands promises to keep me warm at night!

DSC01457
Checking off all the rules we broke. While we were taking this photo, a handsome policeman with a bushy moustache stopped us and told us to leave the beach immediately

Tallinn Callin’

DSC00650

I can’t spend my whole time in Europe hanging out with a pretty girl in Riga (as fun as that sounds), so today I headed off to the ancient city of Tallinn, Estonia. It promised all sorts of history and fun stuff to see, and it delivered in spades. In return, I acted like a drunken idiot.

I hopped on an Ecolines bus (just 16 Euro Spacebux) and it was an easy, comfortable trip. The outskirts of Riga are sparse and depressing, looking straight out the Cold War era, but soon give way to pretty farms and dense forests. While the ride between Latvia and Estonia isn’t the most incredible journey of all time, it’s certainly pleasant.

DSC00581
All aboard the party bus!

And it would’ve been a lot more pleasant if the angry Latvian dude in the seat next to me didn’t keep shouting sweet nothings at me while I tried to sleep. I don’t know what he was saying, but from the way his eyes were spinning in his skull and he kept balling his hands into fists, I’m guessing he wasn’t asking me out for coffee and croissants.

DSC00585
Where dreams go to die

The bus dropped me off a couple of kilometres from my ultimate destination of Tallinn’s Old Town, and so my first impression of the city wasn’t the best – endless cement buildings stood sternly by as I trundled along to my hostel. Things improved as I made my way through the wide, open spaces of Freedom Square, and then I was overwhelmed as I stepped into the Old Town proper.

DSC00596
The whole place is built on a really shitty angle

There are castles and churches and steeples and weird little buildings everywhere, meaning that stepping into Tallinn’s Old Town is like stepping into a time machine (although, if I actually did have a time machine, I’d use it to go back in time and ride a dinosaur). There’s so much to see and it’s all so well preserved that it’s easy to spend hours just swaggering down alleyways and finding out what’s around the next corner.

DSC00589
Hello, church

Unlike Riga’s Old Town, which feels like a functioning part of the actual city, Tallinn’s version feels more like a tourist attraction, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are olde timey stores, historical music, and all sorts of idiots hanging out in flowing dresses and bonnets and shit like that. It gives a good impression of what this place was like before the Nazis and the Russkis got their hands on it. It’s such an inspirational city that I actually acted very sensibly, by which I mean I got drunk in front of ancient buildings:

DSC00641
I love being me

and had a threesome with some sexy statues:

DSC00614
If they didn’t make them so fuckable, I wouldn’t have to fuck them!

On first impressions, Tallinn reminds me of a much bigger, much busier version of Carcassonne, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. It’s bloody cold and the streets are confusing, but it has a good feel to it and I look forward to checking it out in more depth tomorrow.

Beer of the day:
It’s actually pretty tough to find a shop selling cans of beer in Tallinn’s Old Town, but I’m a survivor, and found a few cans of something called A. Le Coq Alexander (literally, Alexander Juice). It was cold and wet and alcoholic, but the taste was on holidays. Perhaps they should try getting the juice from someone other than Alex next time.

tal

Kebab of the day:
I had a rough time locating a kebabery, too, but I’m happy to say that the mission was worth it. It takes a lot to surprise me, but my first kebab in Estonia did just that. Its unusual presentation and unexpected mix of ingredients and spices left a last impression every bit as awe-inspiring as Tallinn’s famous walled city. I bought it from a place called Grill Stop, it came with no wrap, but plenty of succulent meat, and it was awesome.

DSC00663

 

Latvia is an unusual place with unusual people

vlcsnap-2016-04-10-14h50m57s554

After spending almost a week in Latvia, I think I’m in a position to say that this place is a bit weird. Wait, scratch that, it’s a bat-shit insane country that is incredible to experience for that very reason.

The locals are serious to a fault, which takes a bit of getting used to as an Australian. I’m used to saying G’day to strangers, maybe giving them a bit of a wave. In Latvia, the response to that is to look at me as if I’m either a sex fiend, or a retard – or a mixture of both. Even at shops, I haven’t received a single smile since I got here. And I usually get heaps of smiles, because I’m lovely.

DSC00515
Gimme head, baby

The supermarkets here are fucking bonkers. I headed into a place called Rimi, which is a gigantic warehouse where all the actual food and groceries are hidden behind rows and rows of toys, camping equipment, makeup and other crazy stuff. I guess it makes sense – I’ve often wandered into a shop to buy a six-pack of pies and a box of condoms and thought, “I wish I could also update my wardrobe and purchase a new basketball hoop while I’m here.”

The supermarket also had a massive fish tank right next to the milk – in what bizarre world does that make sense. “Oh, I’ll just check out this massive fuck-off fish before I grab a couple of litres of goat milk and a six-pack of frozen dog paws.”

DSC00514
This makes as much sense as Scott Ludlam’s political career

There’s a definite upside to Latvian supermarkets, though, because their alcohol selection is out of this world. It seems like a quarter of the joint was dedicated to booze, with rows and rows of cheap beer, cheap spirits, and reasonably cheap Aussie wine just waiting to be guzzled. They also sell beer in two-litre plastic bottles –  bet the Latvian lovelies would be impressed by that when a fella drags one of those out during a romantic meal!

vlcsnap-2016-04-10-14h52m17s386
Chicks dig the bad boy look

I spent this arvo exploring a forest on the outskirts of Riga with a lady friend of mine and her dog. The forests here are weirdly quiet and full of people aimlessly wandering around in long coats, looking as if they’d rather be anywhere else in the world. The forests have an eerie, lonely quality to them, even when located in or around populated areas. Abandoned houses stand rotting among the ghost-like trees, and empty beer cans lie everywhere.

DSC00546
Fun fact: I vomited on a from last time I was in Cambodia

We ended up at a small lake that was ringed by tall pine trees and a couple of menacing Soviet-era housing blocks that served as a reminder of Latvia’s troubled past. While Riga is cold and the terrain harsh, the locals don’t spend their Saturdays too diffrerently from Australians. A few beers over a BBQ with mates, or taking the kids to the park to let them have a run around. Maybe drink a litre or two of black balsam, head home to bash the missus, that sorta thing.

DSC00538
Or maybe they’ll just do some tai chi

Oh well, that’s it for Riga (well, for now, at least) and it’s time to hop on a luxury bus to Tallinn, the mystical capital of Estonia, one country to the north of Latvia. If it’s even half as barmy as Latvia, I’ll have plenty of stories to share. Hell, even if it’s not wacky, I’ll just drink until something funny happens…

DSC00568

Beer of the day:
The cheapest beer in Latvia is some swill called Walter. Going by the taste, I’m assuming there’s some falt bloke called Walter who simply pisses in the cans before they get shipped off to the supermarket, but I’m giving it my beer of the day anyway. Just brush your teeth after downing one, or people will think you’ve been playing drinking games with Todd Carney.

IMG_20160409_171631

Kebab of the day:
While my lady friend put the kybosh on my plans to have a kebab today, I decided to fight for my right to party have something resembling a kebab by making fajitas for dinner. They were delicious and if you reckon they don’t count as kebabs then you can go fuck yourself.

IMG_20160410_002457

Climbing Peter’s Steeple

Riga_Skyline_Panorama,_Latvia

After such a sombre few hours at the Salaspils Concentration Camp, I climbed back aboard the train and was pleased to find myself sitting directly across from one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever seen in my life. Seeing as my Latvian is somewhat lacking, I went with the old classic of a wink and blowing a bit of a kiss to let her know I’m single and interested, but she just looked at me like she’d caught me eating urinal cakes. Broken-hearted, I put it down to the fact that Latvians aren’t exactly the most excitable bunch and trundled off the train – at which point I realised that my fly was open. And it was just the day that I’d decided to wear my undies with the holes in them. Sorry, pretty girl on train.

DSC00289
It’s Latvia’s answer to Red Rooster

After downing my sorrows with a few tins of cheap beer in one of de repeblik de Riga’s many parks, I decided to spend the arvo getting high. No, not by smoking drugs like my ex-girlfriend some sort of crack whore, I mean I climbed up something really tall. Yeah, I got on top of St Peter’s steeple, which sounds like how I spent most of my afternoons back when I was a choir boy.

St Peter’s Church was built back in 1209, so it’s old as fuck, so I’ve got no bloody idea how I was able to catch a friggin’ elevator to the top. Maybe St Peter was a time travelling space mutant or something, who knows? I asked the woman who runs the elevator but, in true Latvian style, she just humphed and went back to Tindering blokes on her iPhone.

Please swipe right on me, Ursula!

DSC00469
“Hey, I can see my moped from here!”

The view from the top is stunning, and despite the high price (nine Euro Spacebux) it’s the only way to get a true appreciation of the layout of the city. I could look out and see the spot where I drank a beer in the park with a homeless Romanian dude, the place where I was almost arrested by Latvia’s Finest, and all the spots where I was turned down by Latvian women. It was grouse.

I was up the top there, all alone, when the doors to the elevator opened and a loudmouthed American wearing a bright red shirt with pictures of fruit on it stepped out, his trap flapping enough to create a stern breeze that almost knocked me over. “Oh yeah, greaaaaaaaaaat,” he said upon seeing the view. “Oh, it’s sooooooooo high. Geeze, guys, they should’ve given us oxygen tanks before we came up. These Europeans are just so dang good at building towers and it’s not, like, every singly building in America is bigger than this.”

DSC00466
Looking back over the Robert Hughes Tower

The Seppo’s chums guffawed at his razor-sharp wit and started slapping each other high fives while everyone else in the placed rolled their eyes. The loudmouth went back to talking about how much better is at building things, and it really ruined the mood, so I knew I had to do something. The enjoyment of everybody was in my hands (I know a little Thai chick who works at the massage parlour who says the same thing), and I knew I had to do something.

The next time the fool started yapping on about how America is better at building things than anyone else, I piped up and said, “Yeah, you know what else America is really good at building? Dickheads like you, mate.”

DSC00481
Admit it, I’m sexy

The loudmouth was shocked into silence while the other tourists cheered wildly and started jumping up and down with joy. Even his friends shook their heads and left him by himself, on ther verge of tears. Once again, I had saved the day, and I took my rightful spot as the hero of Riga.

As for what happened after that, well, that’s a story for another day, but the end result is that I’ve decided to hang out in Riga for another couple of days, rather than heading off to Sigulda as planned. Don’t worry, the Tour is still in full swing, with my next stop being the lovely city of Tallinn, in Estonia. Hope they’ve got plenty of booze…

Beer of the day:
I smashed a lot of beers today, so let’s give it to, I dunno, Livu. It tasted pretty good and didn’t give me diarrhea, so it’s good as gold according to me. Honestly, there’s not a bad beer over here – just walk into a shop, grab a mixed-bag of cans, and get fucking smashed!

DSC00511

Kebab of the day:
Wanting to provide you, my drunken readers, the best guide to the many kebabs of Europe, I needed to find a third restaurant to eat at today, which proved a challenge because there are only two kebab shops in Riga’s Old Town. I finally tracked down Kebab Fix over near the railway station, and I was a bit suss on it from the get-go. As well as being tucked away near a supermarket, it was run entirely by teenage girls. Well, looks can be deceiving, because the wrap was awesome! It was stuffed with meat and coleslaw (which works!) and was all tucked in nicely, so they get extra points for style. All in all, it was the best kebab so far.

DSC00502

Did I find the greatest love the world has ever known?
The closest I went was accidentally knocking over this weird scarecrow woman while feeling her tits. Awkward.

DSC00494

When the Nazis came to Latvia

DSC00431

A trip to Europe can’t all be about beer and kebabs – although that sounds like a bloody good way to spend a few months! There’s so much history in this magical land, and a lot of it isn’t particularly happy, as I found out today when I took a trip out to the site of Salaspils Concentration Camp, just south of Riga. It was an unpleasant trip, but one that I’m certainly glad I took.

Salaspils was opened by the Nazis in 1941, and over the next four years, tens of thousands of innocent people passed through there. It wasn’t a death camp, instead it was mainly used for either processing victims before they were sent elsewhere to be killed, or for forced labour to help the German war machine. Yeah, that’s bad, but it gets worse. Salaspils was the site of a bizarre and putrid act that sounds like it’s straight from a science fiction film.

As well as Jews, Russians and other prisoners of war, a large proportion of the inmates at Salaspils were children. The main reason they were kept there was to serve as forced blood donors for Nazi soldiers. These poor, innocent children were basically farmed as blood bags, a concept that will probably keep me up at night for a long time to come.

DSC00379

The memorial to the camp is fairly easy to get to and definitely worth going to, but it’s not really in any of the tourist guides and basically kept out of sight, out of mind, which is a shame. To get there, simply jump on a train from Riga Central to Darzini, and follow the signs to the memorial. Darzini is in the middle of nowhere and I was a little bit worried about getting stabbed by some inbred Baltic sicko as I left the station and started walking down a lonely path through the forest.

It’s not a bad walk actually, and there are signs pointing the way to the memorial, so it’s nice and easy. It was really peaceful, with no sounds but the birds in the trees. But as I covered the two kilometre journey, the clammy sense of evil started to descend upon the forest like a fog. When true evil happens it never really leaves, and the ghosts of the tortured still haunt the forest outside Darzini.

DSC00389

The memorial is certainly confronting, and without thinking I held my breath for at least a minute as I walked through the large concrete gate at the entrance. The Nazis razed everything when they abandoned the camp, so there are no original building, but what is there is remarkable. Four gigantic statues stand in the grounds, dedicated to those who suffered so much. The are impressive and heartbreaking in equal measure.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I spent an hour of so just walking the grounds, thinking about what had happened in this remote spot in the woods. There is no sound but the wind in the trees and the never-ending thump of a heart, resonating from a stone monument and representing the unbreakable spirit of the Latvian people. People still leave toys at the site of the children’s barracks, which is creepy. In fact, the whole place is, and what makes it so much more powerful than, say, Sachsenhausen, is that it hasn’t become a tourist attraction. While few people visit Salaspils, it’s one of the most moving monuments I have ever been to, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

 

Wondering where all the bad jokes, kebab reviews, and updates on my love life are? Due to the subject matter of this post, I’ve decided to chuck all that in a separate entry, which I’ll put up if and when I get back from having a well-earned drink in Riga. Cheers.

Latvia’s Most Wanted: How I almost got arrested for public intoxication

DSC00286

Riga is a top city and I definitely recommend you check it out sometime, but there is one major problem with it: you can’t sink bulk piss in the street. I found that out the hard way, while downing a can of Mitava beer in front of the Freedom Monument, the most revered and respected statue in the country.

Yes, I know, I’m doing Australia proud. I can’t help it if I’m cool and a bit of a rebel, it’s just who I am.

DSC00295

I was just hanging out, being cool, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Assuming it was some big-titted Latvian sheila looking for a good time, I turned around with a smile, only to see a couple of stern-faced cops. They started barking at me in Latvian and, not knowing what they were banging on about and feeling a little nervous, I took a swig of my can. That was the wrong thing to do.

cops
There go the fun police. Wait, actually, they’re just the police. Please don’t arrest me

One of the cops slapped the can out of my hand and kept shouting at me, so I told him I didn’t have a bloody clue what he was banging on about, and he finally realised I wasn’t a troublemaker, and instead a fun-loving Aussie with a cheeky attitude and a heart of gold. “In Latvia, we drink in bar, not in street like animal,” he told me, and I immediately started wondering if a lot of dogs and cats have problems with alcohol over here. “You put beer can in bin and go away!”

I put the can in the beer and went on my way. I was disappointed to lose almost an entire half-litre can of beer, but relieved that the cops didn’t force me to have sex with them.

DSC00198
“Hey, where are the PS4s?”

Apart from almost getting thrown in the gulag, my first full day in Riga has been ace. I slept in long enough to kick my jetlag to the curb, then set out for the city’s central market. I expected it to be like Sydney’s craptacular Paddy’s Markets, with nothing to buy but mobile phone covers and poorly-fitting shirts with Jimi Hendrix printed on the front, but it was actually really worthwhile. It’s a traditional market aimed at locals, not tourists, with a bunch of outdoor stalls selling clothes and several giant halls selling meat, vegetables, and fish.

DSC00202
More meat than a night at Candy Falzon’s place

I was hungrier than Penny Wong at a gynacology convention, so I found a little cafe selling what looked like omelettes and sausage rolls, so I ordered one of each. Like accidentally taking a Thai ladyboy home, I didn’t get what I wanted, but I ended up with a mouthful of something delicious just the same, because the ‘omelette’ was actually some sort of flattened beef, and the ‘sausage roll’ was jellied chicken. They were both great and, with a tummy full of goodness (that’d make a great porn title) I headed off towards my next adventure.

DSC00208
Nothing’s as delicious as mystery meat!

Riga doesn’t have a long list of world-famous sites. Shit, most people in Australia don’t even know where the city is (I didn’t until about two months ago, to be honest. The allure of the city lies in walking down its cobblestone streets and soaking in the culture and history, but there was one giant monument that I really wanted to see: the Riga Radio and TV Tower.

DSC00269
In this shot, I look almost as big as the tower. I’m 300m tall, come at me, motherfuckers, I’ll eat you!

At 368m tall, the tower certainly stands out against Riga’s diminutive skyline, where few buildings stand more than four storeys high. It’s actually the third-tallest tower in Europe and a very impressive sight, so I knew I had to climb it. The handsome three-legged tower is a couple of kilometres south-east of the city, so I took a strut along the Daugava River. It’s a very baron landscape as soon as you leave the CBD, with withered trees and quiet streets. At times, Riga really does seem to be the end of the world.

DSC00247
It’s a bit like looking up a chick’s skirt

A trip to the tower’s viewing platform, which stands 97 metres above the ground, costs just three-and-a-half Euro Spacebux, and that’s about all it’s worth, to be honest. I’ve been up a lot of the world’s best towers – the Eiffel in Paris, the Oriental Pearl in Shanghai, the fucking Coight Tower on Knob Hill (tee-hee) in San Francisco, and they were all better than this. There are two main problems; the tower is too far from anything to get a view, and it’s enclosed, with dirty windows obstructing most of the view.

Still, the view from the platform accentuated just how weird Riga is. While the city proper clings to one bank of the river, the other is basically empty, save for some strange little shanties scattered around, that look straight out of the third world. It’s such an alien world, worth visiting if only to see and feel how different it is from anywhere else.

DSC00263
Riga’s most exclusive neighbourhood

I spent the rest of the day rolling through Riga’s old town, drinking beer in the streets as if it was legal, trying to get into museums that all seem closed, checking out Latvian women and, finally, accidentally becoming public enemy number one. Yeah, I’m still dirty on it – after all, there are real criminals out there that could be chasing down, starting wih the fucking bongo-playing hare krishna cunts who keep making a racket outside my bloody window. Go get ’em, boys!

krishna
Just shoot the cunts!

Beer of the day:
The can of Mitava I was downing before the po-po so rudely interrupted me was smooth and delicious, not too heavy but full of flavour. The can also comes with a bit of gold foil over the top, so it’s the oversized can of choice for the discerning street alcoholic.

DSC00302

Kebab of the day:
I had a falafel wrap from TurKebab, and it was unlike any I’ve ever had before. I asked for it spicy and, unlike yesterday’s disappointment, it was definitely hot. It had a delicious BBQ sauce drizzled over it, but there was too much of it, overpowering the taste of the falafels and the other ingredients. Not perfect, but a good meal.

DSC00277

Did I find the greatest love the world has ever known?
Unfortunately, no, but a very fat woman at the market pinched me on the bottom and then waddled away to buy some dried fish. I guess I’ll take it.

 

Livin’ La Riga Loca – Live from Latvia!

DSC00168

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.

DSC00141
Riga’s wonderful Rolph Harris Monument

“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.”

DSC00144
Go for a swim, the water’s lovely!

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!

DSC00151
“Dat bitch’s arse was diiiiiiis big!”

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.

DSC00156
If you can’t find somewhere to drink, you probably don’t have a mouth

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.

stat
She left me a fake phone number afterwards

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.

DSC00159
Make sure you book in advance

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.

missu
Just some random Latvian chick I saw while wandering around

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.

DSC00175
Reflections on you, reflections on me, reflections on that drunken night we had together in Forster…

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).

DSC00187

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.

DSC00176

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.

A journey of a thousand beers starts with a single can…

baydsc02956

The adventure is finally underway and I’m happy to say that I haven’t been bashed, stabbed, shot at or blown up yet. Of course, that’s not saying much seeing as so far I’ve travelled only 50km from Gosford to Sydney Airport, but it’s a start.

The trip down was very exotic – I sat between an Asian bloke who dropped his noodles in his lap and then slurped them up anyway, and a homeless bloke who was doing his best to slurp his noodle, but was unsuccessful. I’m gonna miss this place!

Security at Sydney Airport has been ramped up, with all sorts of X-ray machines that look like something out of Total Recall but don’t, sadly, allow one to see through the clothes of pretty girls (trust me, I checked it out). Despite the increase in security, and no matter how shady I acted, I didn’t manage to convince the big, fat, hairy dude really sexy and pretty security sheila to give me an internal examination. Oh well, there’s always hope when I get to the other side of the world.

Speaking of which, by the next time you hear from me, I will have travelled slightly further – another 15,000km, all the way to the ancient city of Riga, Latvia. That’s where the Drunk and Jobless 2016 World Tour of Europe: The Search for Beers, Kebabs and the Greatest Love the World has Ever Known will truly kick off. As the title suggests, I’ll bee stumbling through Europe with a can in one hand, a salmonella-encrusted wrap in the other, checking out thousands of years of history, while keeping an eye out for the girl who will become the love of my life.

It will take me from Lativia, to Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia… I’m struggling to remember them all here, but I know I’ll be finishing up with an epic week of so on the Greek Islands. It’s going to be like Acropolis Now, only with less Effy and more effing (I hope).

I’ll be reporting every day on the weird shit that’s happened to me, the freaks I’ve met, the wonderful things I’ve seen and other crap that will hopefully make you laugh. There’ll be photos (some where I’ll even be wearing pants!) and the best writing you’ve ever se read (that’s probably a lie). I’m gone for more than two months, so stick around because I might get lonely…

Awesome, they’ve just called my flight – one can of your shittest beer, please, Qantas!

image

See ya the fuck later, Australia!

DSC00065

I love Australia, and I love being Australian. The refugee-cuddling diesel dykes who stalk the piss-stained alleyways of Newtown might tell you that’s a bad thing, but it’s not, it’s something I’m proud of. So, as I prepare to spend more than two months rolling through Europe, I must admit that I’m going to miss my country.

This time tomorrow I’ll be winging my way to Riga, Latvia, so I’ve spent the last few days loading up on a bit of Australia. On Thursday night I went to see the legendary Kevin Bloody Wilson live in concert at the Davistown RSL, and it was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time. With my brother and father along for the ride, we rocked out to classics like D.I.L.L.I.G.A.F., It Was Over and Living Next Door To Alan.

DSC00048

In short, it was a fucking awesome concert. Kev was in fine form as he warbled his way through politically-incorrect ditties that would make greenies, pooftahs and towel-heads shit themselves with offence. Not only is Kev a brilliant performer who is able to keep his audience enraptured for hours with little more than a guitar and a smirk, but he’s also one of the few blokes who isn’t afraid to piss of a few softcocks.

Of course, Kev is best enjoyed with an alcoholic beverage or 20, and that’s just what we did. While beer is probably the drink of choice for a balls-to-the-wall concert like this, it was wine that we went with… and lots of it. Enough wine, in fact, that I don’t remember the end of the concert, only waking up under a pile of pillows in the corner of a dark room, feeling like a rhinoceros had been headbutting me in my sleep.

IMG_20160403_143729

Today, I backed it up with a trip to the footy to watch the Sydney Roosters play the New Zealand Warriors at Grahame Park, Gosford – just down the road from where I live. It’s a ground I played rugby league at as a kid, and the best footy ground in the world, as far as I’m concerned. These days rugby league is largely banned from being played there due to the mayor of Gosford being the former coach of the local soccer team (and a complete cunt – honestly, Lawrie McKinna, shove a pack of razor blades up your arsehole, you prick), so today’s match will be the only one this year.

IMG_20160403_144321

The Warriors won a match the quality of a Chinese condom, but it didn’t matter. It’s just good to sit in stands and watch the footy with thousands of other fans. I had my dad and my friends there with me, along with a few beers, and it was an awesome way to say farewell to Australia for a while.

Well, except for when a fat Warriors fan spilled his drink on my crotch, and a small child pointed at me and said I’d wet myself. That bit wasn’t good at all.

In a few hours I leave on the Drunk and Jobless World Tour of Northern and Eastern Europe, a journey that will take me through weird places like Bosnia and Serbia, where the people speak – and probably smell – funny. I’ll be blogging every single day to let you know where I am, what I’m doing, and who I’m doing. Hold on, it’s gonna be a helluva ride!