Football, Beach Cricket and Arm Wrestling in Riga

By Scott Gibbons, a Travel Enthusiast

Read more on Riga.

Overall rating:4.0 out of 5 (based on 5 votes)
Enjoyable
4
4.0
Useful
3.2
3.2
Inspirational
3.4
3.4
Recommended for:
Activity, Beach, Short Break, Budget, Mid-range

The charming city of Riga is a must have experience for anyone wanting to personalise a break to suit their own schedule and interests

As the social secretary for a local amateur football team, it falls on me to arrange the annual club tour. Normally, the committee makes a joint decision on the chosen destination. However, on this occasion, my fellow board members handed me the baton with minimal help. “Let's go somewhere in Europe…a city with excellent nightlife…there’s got to be plenty of activities to do in the day…a bit of sunshine wouldn’t hurt…and make sure we can have a good game of footie."

Fast forward a hundred man hours surfing the net, assessing quotes and chatting with friends and a surprise but clear winner began to emerge – Riga.

And it wasn't just me that thought Riga would be a good choice. The Mayor of Riga, Nils Usakovs, recently attempted to lure more tourists to visit Riga by insisting "...you can still get drunk, and you can also get your teeth repaired, and the prices will be considerably lower."

All groups or individuals that have Riga on their radars should seriously consider hooking up with the friendly and eager to please Anglo-Latvian staff at www.rigaoutthere.com. Their easy to use Event Planner provides an excellent starting base for ideas and is designed to fit all budgets and desires. The more adventurous traveler might even want to try their hand at firing an AK-47 or perhaps take a thrilling ride in a Latvian bobsleigh that hurtles down the track at speeds of over 100kp/h!
 

Flights and accommodation are cheap and widely available to the Latvian capital. I arranged for my group of 23 to stay at the centrally located and reasonably priced Riga Hotel (22 Aspazijas, blvd, Riga). Twin/Double rooms were priced at 59 Euros for the 3 night stay with Triple rooms also available at a bargain 79 Euros. We also considered staying at Domina Inn, which provides another cheap alternative within walking distance of the Old Town.
 

Friday
We spent our first day being typical tourists, taking in the wonderful sights of Riga including the House of Blackheads museum, the Freedom Monument, Occupation Museum and making the most of the ridiculously cheap beer prices that can be found at many cafes and bars. After a morning of sightseeing it was great to spend a relaxing afternoon in the sun outside the Blue Cow restaurant in Livu Square. However, the very best place to combine breathtaking panoramic views of the city and drinking is at the Reval Hotel (55 Elizabetes iela) in the impressive Skyline Bar. Located on the 26th floor, only here can you can fully appreciate Riga in all its glory whilst enjoying a wide range of cocktails on offer (although your bar bill will be a lot higher here than most other places).

Saturday
Graham, our tour rep from RigaOutThere, had organised for us to play a football match against local amateur team Riga United - a cosmopolitan team made up from players around the world, ex-pats and Latvians. Despite our lack of match preparation (we were partying at cafe/bar Madhouse on Kalku Street until 3am) we managed a 6-0 victory. The facilities and transport provided were excellent and first-rate post match hospitality was held at Paddy Whelan’s (4 GrÄ“cinieku iela) who provided a great buffet and a friendly reception. However, food isn’t the only thing on the menu at Paddy Whelan’s and we caught one of the team seeking out some “dessert” on the top floor where you can find “extra entertainment” provided for a fee!

Sunday
On our final day, we booked a coach trip via Graham to Jumala Beach, situated 30 minutes' drive away. We intended to indulge in a spot of sunbathing and play a friendly game of cricket on the 32km long white sand beach. However, as we began our game, it soon became apparent that not many Latvians are familiar with cricket and a large crowd soon gathered around us with several Latvians asking to join in the fun. In turn, we were then invited to join our new friends in 5 aside beach football where the Latvians took revenge for our victory the previous day. Needless to say we didn't have much time for sunbathing. We rounded off our final night in Riga with food and drinks around Dom Square where there are a host of outdoor bars and restaurants allowing you the chance to top up your tan whilst listening to local bands playing live music. We made many new Latvian friends around Dom square and were even invited to join in a friendly arm wrestling competition.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the city of Riga and found the Latvian people both friendly and sincere. It's a great place for a city break, but for something a bit different it Latvia (and RigaOutThere) offers far more than you would probably think possible. 

Other Places we visited and recommend
The Occupation Museum – Next to the House of Blackheads and entry is free. A fantastic insight into Latvia’s history particularly surrounding World War 2
Club Essential – We pre-booked tickets here with RigaOutThere and had an excellent night. There are many different rooms with lots of varied music played and it's probably Riga’s best club.
Pre-club bars – Riga is littered with pre-club bars. Karku Varti, Velvets and Pulkvedis were decent ones that our group frequented.

Places to avoid
Sports Museum - don't waste your time, it probably the worst museum I've ever been to, but it cost next to nothing so no harm done
Babylon (24 Kalku, formerly known as Roxy Club) – We were told not to go here, although 2 of our lads forgot and were soon approached by bouncers looking for a “leaving fee”. Fortunately they got chatting about football (one bouncer was a Chelsea fan) and they allowed them to leave without the customary charge.
 

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More information on Football, Beach Cricket and Arm Wrestling in Riga:

Author:
Scott Gibbons
Traveller type:
Travel Enthusiast
Guide rating:
4
Average: 4 (5 votes)
Total views:
512
First uploaded:
1 July 2010
Last updated:
4 years 4 weeks 18 hours 45 min 51 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Activity, Beach, Short Break
Budget level:
Budget, Mid-range
Free tags / Keywords:
beach, nightlife, cricket, football

Scott recommends

Hotels

Price from Rating
(out of 5)
1. Riga Hotel
£31
N/A

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Community comments (5)

Rating:
4
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Hi Scott

Riga is one of the places on my list to visit so naturally I was intrigued by your guide. What would have been helpful would have been some more places to visit. The footy anecdotes are amusing, but for a travel guide you need to introduce more stuff that other travelers can enjoy should they decide to visit.

Some more detail about where to eat and what's on offer together with prices would be useful, as would the price of those cheap pints!

Cheers

Simon

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Rating:
4
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Hi Scott,

You started really well and kept me captivated till the very end. I must say you have done a great job of bringing out the best of Riga.

You need to do some work on the recommendation front though, you may have sold Riga as a destination to your readers but i am afraid the hotel recommendation section is the shortest section in you guide. Elaborate more on the hotels you recommend bringing out its positives/negatives and your personal experiences, if any.

As others pointed out, mark some key phrases in bold to make the guide more appealing.

I really look forward to reading some more of your guides soon

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Rating:
4
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Before hair started growing out of my ears/nose at a fierce rate, I used to go on many "sports" weekends, so I enjoyed reading this (and reading between the lines!).

I agree that more specifics are needed to make the guide as useful as it is fun. Burning question is : HOW MUCH IS THE BEER?? And some more recommendations on the food always goes down well, though I realise it is of less importance on a footie trip.

When reporting on this type of jaunt, it's a bit difficult to avoid the 'tour stories' trap, but I think you have made a good attempt: it's definitely a niche market you are targeting. I only wish I was younger!

Presentationally, breaking up the text with keywords in bold would certainly help make it easier on the eye.

PS - 6-0 away - good result!

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Rating:
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0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

What fun you had, and that really comes through in the guide. I could even fancy a game of cricket on the beach myself- I'm useless so I'd fit right in! The idea of using "riga out there" to organise things for you as a group seems a very useful one. The soup must've been beetroot- I've had it in Poland with tiny pasta shapes in? Anyway it looks like a very enjoyable city break.

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Rating:
4
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Hi Scott,

I enjoyed reading this light hearted story of your group's adventures in Riga. The pics are great too, although it would have been nice to read more about the purple soup! You're aiming for a niche readership really - in future, to make your guides appeal to a wider audience (and to earn more cash), why not talk more about the city's attractions and maybe arrange your guide into a "48 hours in Riga" style format.

Attention to the details would make the guide a lot more useful too - you mention one bar being more expensive than others. How expensive? Try to stick to the local currency (the lat), and make use of the heading formats when you edit your guide to make it look a bit neater.

Finally, don't forget to update your profile so we know a bit more about you, and I look forward to seeing your next guide on the site soon!

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