Everything felt very last minute for this trip, which is not like me at all! I was even packing my suitcase the same day as my flight to Riga. I have never, ever, done this before and I won’t be repeating it again, it was very stressful.
We dropped the bunnies off at their holiday place on the way to the airport, dropped our car at the meet and greet and then proceeded to the bag drop. We were flying Ryanair, something I had avoided for many years as I am really not a fan of theirs. Unfortunately, they are the only airline that flies to Riga direct from Manchester, so I had no choice but to give them another go.
The bag drop was quick enough and relatively pain free, we had pre weighed our bag so knew it was within our baggage limit. We went through security without too many issues (I did get searched though!) and went through to the terminal. Unfortunately, we were flying out of Terminal 3 in Manchester airport which is pretty rubbish as far as airport terminals go. The terminal is tiny, does not have enough seating and the duty free has nowhere near the selection of the duty frees in the other terminals. It took a few loops of the very small eating area to find somewhere to sit and even when we found somewhere, we were pretty much sharing a table with people we didn’t know. It certainly is not a terminal you want to be spending any length of time in.
Soon enough we were called to board our flight and as I had paid for extra leg room and priority boarding, this worked out pretty well as we really didn’t have to queue at all. We were seated half way along the plane, in an exit row seat over the wing. I have to say, the legroom in this seat was pretty awesome and I could stretch out my legs quite nicely, although, the seats are tiny! Like seriously tiny. Not pleasant at all.
I nodded off quite quickly so the flight was relatively pain free. Except for landing, that was a very painful experience. Due to the fact I was full of cold, my ears were in agony due to the change in pressure. I was full on crying at one point I was in that much pain, it was awful, and it took a good 12 or so hours before my hearing returned after landing!
We arrived in Riga and easily got a taxi to our hotel. There was a huge queue of taxis immediately outside the hotel that were very easy to find and our taxi driver knew exactly where our hotel was, so no language issues here. The best bit about taxis in Riga this time of year is that they have Santa hats on the head rests!
As we drove into Riga, I was surprised at how modern it was, when doing all my research I had been so focused on the old town that I wasn’t expecting tall tower blocks and modern shopping malls! We then crossed a beautiful bridge and into the old town, which was as picture perfect as I had imagined! The streets were lined with fairy lit trees and every now and again, a full on Christmas tree would appear. I started to get really excited when we pulled up outside our hotel.
We were staying at the Hotel Neiburgs, which is perfectly located for exploring all Riga has to offer. The building the hotel is housed in is just stunning and this continues through to the interior of the hotel. We had an amazing room on the fourth floor and the second I set eyes on our room I could not stop smiling. You can read my full review of the hotel here.
We dropped our bags off, put on a few extra layers and then headed back out onto the streets of Riga to do some exploring. Unfortunately due to flight times, it was around 10pm by this point, but we were starving, so went off in search of some food.
Now, I need to put a disclaimer here, we were very, very bad travellers on this night. We ended up eating at a TGI Fridays (I know, shock, horror). I should give this some context though, we were crazy hungry, very tired and I could not hear properly thanks to my popped ears! We just wanted to collapse somewhere nearby and eat asap. We walked past a few restaurants but no one was in them and we couldn’t tell if they were still serving food, but when we stumbled across TGI’s and it was packed with people eating, so our stomachs ruled and we ventured inside.
I have to say, we had a very enjoyable meal here, had a couple of drinks and enjoyed people watching, as we were sitting in the window and had a good view of the street, which had a steady stream of people wandering past.
With our bellies full we meandered back through the cobbled streets to our hotel and within seconds of our heads hitting the pillow, we were out for the count. Come join me for day 2 here.
You can check out more of what I got up to in my Riga Vlog: