4: Riga, Latvia
I left Estonia with new friends and I am in good spirits as I head over to Riga. I get to Riga at 5:40pm and was picked up by the owner of the Bed and Breakfast that I’m staying in. I get settled, the owner gives me a tour of the place and my key.
I head back out and try to get a phone card so that I can call my friend Karyn. I go to a newsstand and ask for a phone card. She doesn’t understand. So, I make a hand gesture towards my ear like I’m holding a phone and I try not to speak louder because I know she’s not deaf, she just doesn’t speak English. A common mistake for Americans 🙂 I say ‘phone card’ at the same time. She seems to get it, because she reached for what looks like a phone card and hands it to me. Perfect, I say. I grab the card, pay and leave. I get to the pay phone and try the card, nothing. I try again, nothing. I look at the card and it’s not the same as the ones I’ve been getting. So, I go back to the newsstand and I see her holding the same card and her cell phone. I make another motion like a big box symbolizing a phone booth. She shakes her head and shows me her cell phone. Ah, it’s a phone card for cell phones. Great, I’m out the money I paid her, plus, she doesn’t have the phone card I need.
I walk some more. I just keep walking hoping I’ll run into something that looks like a place that sells phone cards. Man, that is the most frustrating feeling, just walking aimlessly, hoping, for something. I did eventually find one and so off I go to make a phone call. She answers the phone and we agree to meet in front of my bed and breakfast.
It was 7:30pm by the time we met. She’s a cute girl in her 20’s, very young but very smart and intelligent. We hit it off right away, she gives me a quick tour of the old town with some historic comments, then we get something to eat at a place called Lido, serving Latvian food. I had something with chicken and a potato dish that looked very much like hash browns. We talked some more, got to know each other, then walked some more.
Karyn suggested we go to a town called Segulda. It’s an hour and a half train ride and it’s a pretty little town with approximately 100 people. I said great. We are to meet at a corner ay 7:15. I am also checking out of this expensive Bed and Breakfast which cost me $44 and I will stay in her room which she rents from an old couple.
She takes me back to the same street as my bed and breakfast but a few blocks away. She said, can you handle it from here? I say, of course. So, I head down the street with the B&B business card in hand. I look at the numbers and count in my head. I’m looking for 37. So I see 32 — 34 — 36 — 38 — 40…oops, I must have gone too far. I go back and I’m back to 32. This is 11pm and my anxiety level is beginning to rise only because there was no one really on this street. So stopped for maybe 30 seconds to pull my map out but I really didn’t want to do that because I think that would make matters worse. All the guidebooks say, don’t pull a map out in the middle of an intersection. Especially at night. So, I turn around and I see two men and a woman walking in my direction. I immediately asked them if they could show me where this place was. I figured once I see it, I’ll remember it since I was just there.
One of the gentleman said, “We’ll walk with you there.” Wonderful, I thought. So, he asked me a couple of questions in English, wondering what I was doing in Riga. I said I was just travelling. He seemed confused that I didn’t know anyone in Riga yet I was there. Common reaction for me, especially since I started planning my trip.
Well, here we are. I remember now. I thanked them and walked towards the door. The door was locked and when I rang the doorbell, there was no answer. No problem, I will call the owner’s cell phone. I go to a phone booth, I stick the phone card inside and I kid you not, the card fell inside the phone. it just fell in and I had no way of getting it out. GREAT! Just great! I can’t believe this! My only way in! So, I walked around some more to see if I could find another entrance and who do I see, that same gentleman who helped me.
“Thank goodness you’re still here. Can I use your phone? The phone booth ate my card.”
“What?” he said. Here we go, he must think I’m an idiot. He obviously didn’t believe me because we walked over to the phone booth and I had to demonstrate with another card that the card just calls in. “You’re right,” he says. Of course I’m right, I thought. Well, he had no minutes left on his cell phone. Ah, there’s his friend. So we walked over and his friend called the number on my business card. Meanwhile, I reach for my key and look on the key chain and there I find an access code. I show it to them and they look relieved and were going to send me on my way. Well, I thought, everything else has gone wrong, what if this doesn’t work? I might not run into them again. So, in desperation, I just turned to the guy and said, “Are you going to leave me?!?!” like, what are you thinking?
They looked at each other and decided they were going to walk me to my door and wait until the door opened before they leave. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! As we walked towards the door, I thought to myself, “You’re so high maintenance, Lizza.” I guess I was just a bit desperate. All independence just went out the window!
Anyway, after a few more challenges with my hotel room door, I finally make it. Uuugh, my first brush with danger. I was a bit nervous there for a while. I’m glad I’m in my expensive bedroom now…tomorrow will be better.