Latvia Warnings and Dangers
Simple Express Bus
Reviews from VirtualTourist Members
In general, the best time to visit Latvia is May-September. These months the weather is better , more daylight, fresher food and plenty of folk festivals July and August is the peak tourist season, when hotels are often fully booked.The coldest months are January and February. Winter weather can be extreme in Latvia, but this period also sees the most theatre performances and concerts and is a skiers' dream.
Beware of small children and votive candles!
(work in progress)By the time we visited the Baltics, our two year old daugher had already come to terms with the basics of birthdays (birthdays = candles + birthday cake) and could barely contain her excitement at the hosts of votive candles that adorn Orthodox churches. Unfortunately for us, she interpreted the birthday association as free licence to try and blow out every candle that she encountered. I was fearful that blowing out a candle lit in commemoration of a deceased loved one might culturally equate to consigning someone’s beloved relative to The Void for eternity, and spent the entire trip in fear of being lynched by an enraged babushka as a result!
Long summer evenings disrupt kids' sleep patterns!
Long summer evenings are usually a joy. But when we visited the Baltics in June with our two year old daughter, we hadn't realised how much of a mixed blessing they would prove to be!We live in Johannesburg, which is not far south of the Tropic of Capricorn. As a result, there isn't much difference in the length of days between summer and winter, and our children have been brought up in a routine of 'going to bed with the sun and rising with the sun'.This is fine until you find yourself in Latvia in mid summer, where it doesn't get dark until 23:00 and begins to get light again about 04:00. Furthermore, most of the places that we stayed had thin curtains - preusmably to maximise light during the dark winter months? - so it was impossible to create dark conditions conducive to sleep. As a result, by the end of our fortnight, we were all suffering from sleep deprivation!It didn't stop us...
Beware of Pickpockets!
Beware of pickpockets especially at crowded places like the Riga Central Market where pickpockets are very common every day! Don't carry your travelling bag behind your back. The best way is to carry it in front of you so that you are aware of what is going on in front of you. Don't put all your money in a wallet in one pocket and bring only enough money for the day! Leave your passport at hotel's safe depost box.
I really don't know if it should be a warning as we, drivers shouldn't speed at any conditions! In fact, I try not to- especially when I'm abroad and there I always drive according to speed limits in order not to sponsor the police. But that time I only wanted to overtake a lorry... Unfortunately when I felt the speed...I didn't slow down and after a few kilometres they caught me...I started saying goodbye to my money but I decided not to give up! Then it occurred that my Russian (which I used to speak in the past quite fluently) was still not bad, not bad at all. (adrenaline makes miracles!). Eventually , I spared my money but had to give my word (tschesnoye slovo) that I wouldn't drive faster than 90per hour!
Currency Exchange - Scam!
Be careful with changing currency! There are a number of kioskd which prominently display what looks to be a good rate - but it is the SELL rate. When you get your money back you will find you may have lost 15%! There's one place with a BIG 69,95 over the cashier's window - you will get 60,40!And even they will put the SELL in Latvian - but they keep somewheres within some meters the obligatory long list with both buy and sell - but this is an A4 paper - and you'll hardly notice.It's a bit surprising the authorities haven't come down on this practice.
It is possible to get lost in a small Latvia
A necessary thingIf you decided to visit Latvia without any guides, you have to know that here is a problem with references in Latvia. No references at all. I don¡¦t know why the situation is still in this condition. Probably it is the last inheritance from USSR, when everything was a big secret and geographical maps were strategically things. Some time ago one of VTers who was in Latvia asked me: in Latvia no references in roads, is it mean that every Latvian has a map in his car. Yes, it is true. ƒº Mostly Latvians have maps of Latvia¡¦s roads in their cars. ƒº Bye a map of Latvia before you entrance start to travel here!
Be careful with wild animals
There are animals from Latvia’s woods and fields in nature’s trails in Ligatne. All of them are in big cages with double barrier, but you have to be careful anyway, especially if your children with you. We were witnesses for a small accident – woman with her 2 years old baby posed near the cage with wolf, their father taken the picture. During the process baby put his small hand between barriers and wolf reaction was like lightning – it catch baby’s glove. Baby hasn’t any hurts, but his dad tried to take away the love without result. On this short fight the wolf was the winner. In spite the fact that animals in this nature’s trails are domesticated, they have their wild instincts and the reaction would be indefinite.
Roadsigns like this with the painting over the Russian name were often seen in the Baltic countries in 1992.Latvia’s autochthonous population suffered most of the 3 Baltic states of the 45 years Soviet rule. The result of deportation, genocide and emigration of Latvians and mass immigration of Soviet occupants resulted in only 51.7 % of Latvia’s population being ethnic Latvians at the beginning of independence. This has now slightly changed in favour of the Latvians because most of the Latvians who survived the deportations came back as did quite many who emigrated overseas. At the other hand some Russians etc. emigrated after independence, but mostly not to the neighbouring former homeland Russia. But the percentage of non-autochthonous residents (legal and illegal ones) is still by far the highest in Europe.As a means to integrate the non-autochthonus residents the Baltic countries...
No alcohol on the street.
Officially it is illegal to drink alcohol (not only strong ones, but beer also) on the street, and at least in Old Riga the police will approach you when they see you having a drink. It happened to me once, but when they noticed I was foreigner they only made me put the beer in the garbage (what a pity) but I didnt have to pay a fine.
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