Postcard from Riga
What a way to start off dreary 2018 than with a trip to the Baltics! I know, not the usual sunny Stylecamp destination, and certainly not much opportunity to wear one of my two piece sets, but there are definitely some captivating reasons to visit this Art Nouveau haven, Riga, in Latvia.
Colourful streets of Riga
Christmas decorations in Latvia
The runway appeared out of nowhere as our plane descended through the thick fog, landing with a bit of a bump. We had arrived in Riga late on Friday night to happily discover that in late January, Riga is still very much in Christmas mode! Through the dense fog, the glittering Christmas lights along the riverside front were a welcome sight as our taxi took us the short drive from the airport into town, giving a flavour of cosiness to this wintry destination.
Latvian National Opera House
The next day, we were booked in to catch the matinee performance of 'At the Blue Danube' performed by the Latvian National Ballet at, where else, than the National Opera House.
Beautiful waltz music by Johann Strauss backs this romantic ballet about the choice between love and the stage. As always, ballet is mesmerising to watch, I particularly enjoyed the costumes and colour at the Viennese Ballroom scene.
At the Blue Danube - picture c/o the Latvian National Ballet
The theatre feels relatively small for a National Opera House but perhaps that's because it was originally constructed in its neo-classical style as the Riga German Theatre in 1863. It was packed to rafters with charming details, including the show-stopping chandelier with fluted floral sconces that hung impressively in the centre of the concert hall. During the intervals we wandered the grand corridors and stately refreshments' room, imagining what it must have been like for audiences of its time.
Grand details at the National Opera House
I felt a sense of Baltic glamour wearing Stylecamp's luxurious velour Lombard dress for the occasion, a midi length number with elegant split sleeves, which I teamed with my studded lace up ankle boots for a more casual appeal - a dress and boots combination I noticed a lot of the other glamorous ladies wearing. I love the chic longer length of this dress, which after the performance, I threw a chunky knit over to stay warm whilst exploring what else the city had to offer.
Wearing Stylecamp's Lombard dress at the Latvian National Opera
CHOCOLATE & GIN - 2 OF MY LOVES
We were soon taken in by the very 'sweet' (pardon the pun, they were very enthusiastic!) ladies at the Laima chocolate museum, who stuffed bundles of chocolates into our hands before ushering us into their interactive museum experience. The indulgent melted chocolate drink was a real treat as you perused the origins of the factory and personalised your own chocolate bar.
Chocolates and original vintage artwork from the Laima Chocolate Museum in Riga
Afterwards, we wandered up into the shopping district as I always like to have a good nose in the local charity, vintage and secondhand shops, of which there were a few scattered around. I was sorely tempted by some very decadent vintage long length coats, sadly too big.
Andalūzijas Suns - Gin bar in Riga
We'd kicked up a thirst by this point and headed over to a cosy gin bar we'd heard about, Andalūzijas Suns. A chic interior featuring tiled floors and vintage furniture, with a drinks menu entirely of gins infused with all sorts of weird and wonderful things. I opted for a delicious Botanist gin with orange, sage and mint with a tonic to match, possibly one of the best G&Ts I've ever had.
Gin and Tonic at Andalūzijas Suns
RIGA OLD TOWN
Views of Riga from the Hotel
The next day was a real taste of the Baltic when we awoke to a flurry of sleet and snow. Apparently the temperatures can get as low as -25 in January though, so at 0 degrees, I think we were quite lucky! Nevertheless, we trudged in the slush to reach the Central Market, which were once vast military hangars, now full of good quality local meat and brightly coloured vegetable produce.
Riga Central Market - picture c/o Christina Weninger Liden & Denz
Tucked away in the corner of the veg section was this gem of a craft beer bar, Labietis, run by a very knowledgable, Nordic-looking barman. We ended up staying for two pints of the Mežs, or Forest in English, which was a flavourful red ale made with juniper berries. That certainly cheered up my two wet feet!