Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Get into a Baltic State of Mind

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Get into a Baltic State of Mind

Article excerpt

DESTINATION RIGACURRENCY: Euros (€) - £1 = €1.12 TIME ZONE: GMT+2hrs THE FLIGHT: Ryanair flies direct from Manchester to Riga. Flight duration: 2hrs 35 mins. From £62.99 return. BEST TIME TO VISIT: Go in late spring or summer, when there are likely to be fine days for sightseeing. VISAS, INJECTIONS AND PRECAUTIONS: None. RIGA, Latvia's capital city, sits on the edge of the Baltic Sea. It is increasing in popularity as a city break destination, with tourists coming for its historic Old Town, colourful Central Market and proximity to the coast Must sees for free BASTEJKALNS, or Bastion Hill, is a park in the centre of Riga, created in the 19th century after the city's ramparts were pulled down. Stroll through its narrow pathways and see the stone garden, canal, bridges with locks left by newly-weds, colourful flowers, and waterfalls. The Liberty Monument sits on one side of the park, the Blaumanis sculpture on the other. It's a favourite spot for romantic walks and for sledging in winter. Pause for a moment in Bralu Cemetery, or the Cemetery of the Brethren, founded in 1936 as a burial ground for 3,000 Latvian soldiers who were killed between 1915 and 1920, during the First World War and the Latvian Freedom Fights. It features sculptures by Karlis Zale, who designed the cemetery, two grieving horsemen stand by the entrance, and the statue of Mother Latvia looks out across the graves. Head to Centraltirgus Market, or Central Market, to try local delicacies. It is one of the world's biggest farmers' markets, housed in old German Zeppelin hangars, and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can buy fresh products from Latvian farms, souvenirs and traditional food and ingredients. Items for sale include salted and dried mushrooms, hemp butter, sandthorn (seaberry) syrup and marmalade, amber jewellery and handmade ornaments. Top sees for a fee The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia tells the story of the state while under the control of two occupying totalitarian powers, the USSR and Nazi Germany, from 1940 to 1991. This time pushed the people of Latvia to the limits of physical and mental survival, as they suffered oppression, terror and violence. Museum visitors can watch a short film - in English, Latvian, Russian or German - and explore an exhibition showcasing documents such as the Hitler-Stalin pact, photographs, posters, maps and artefacts, as well as video testimonials, diaries, letters and artwork by people who lived during that time. The museum is open every day from 11am to 6pm. For general entry, a donation is recommended. Guided tours cost €10 for one to three people, €3 each for four to 10 people, €2.50 each for 11 or more people. Take a day trip by train from Riga Central Station to Jarmala, a seaside resort half an hour away. There are many green spaces, such as Dzintari Forest Park, as well as 33 kilometres of white sandy beach. …

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