Raving in Riga

I remember quite clearly the way Stefan, Julie, Max and I met: It involved a certain amount of alcohol (I get drunk pretty easily) and a bit of peer pressure.

I arrived in Riga a day before, still recovering from yet another night out, but as fate had it I bumped into Paul and Grant once again. And of course Paul being Paul convinced me to join yet another bar crawl, so I did. Paulo was also there so we started off with a couple of shots in the hostel before half the hostel headed out into the streets of Riga.

I already did an extensive amount of walking, taking photos of the main sights and trying to find good places to eat, so I kind of knew my way around. I do remember the moment Paulo and me arrived here with the bus. the sky was bathed in the orange afternoon light with the deep dark clouds providing the needed contrast.

Anyway back to the bar crawl, so the first place we went, was yet another hostel which had an Australian themed bar. I can’t really remember the name, but that’s not that important because halfway through my beer I headed to the toilet. Upon leaving I bumped into Paulo who wanted to sit down at a table instead of standing around like the rest. The first table we found was right next to the toilet but there were already three people sitting there.

Paulo being an extrovert went straight to them and asked if we could sit down. I really admire people like him who can just go straight up to someone and start a conversation. For me, I tend to wait for the conversation to start and jump in when I have something fitting to say. That’s why our duo worked so well, Paulo takes care of the icebreaker and I find an interesting topic to talk about.

Anyway they didn’t object and we started talking. They introduced themselves, and before they could say it, I already knew that they were from Germany. The accent pretty much gave it away.

Once we passed the introductions we started talking about our trips, where we are heading and came from.

I thought my trip was pretty special, until I heard about their travel stories. So what trumps the Trans Siberian? Going all the way to Kamtschatka. “Kamscha… What? Paulo was asking. “Kamtschatka” I corrected him. I love Geography, landscapes and volcanoes so I had seen countless documentaries about this peninsula at the furthest north-eastern corner of Russia, pretty close to Alaska but just on the other side of the Bering Straits.

“How the hell did you get there? And what took you to go there?” I asked. And so they told me all about their University assignment on tourism in remote places, why they chose Kamtschatka and their experience there.

I was awestruck by the stories and I already imagined going there myself, until they told me that the only way to get there is by Airplane. “That will have to wait!” I thought and told them about my fear of flying and my own trip. The pub crawl moved to the next pub so we asked them to come along. They did, so we continued chatting until Julie suggested we should find another place as the music at the current pub wasn’t that great. Being Germans they fancied some good old electronic music or at least a proper club. This time they asked me and Paulo if we wanted to join, so we did. It must have been the alcohol, because I’m usually not that fond of clubs. But “Fuck It” I thought to myself just go and try it!

Our search for a club was going nowhere. Any place we tried in old town had the same trashy pop music. Stefan had vanished, supposed to go to the toilet in a nearby bar. There we stood in a circle in the middle of the street, looking clueless and waiting for Stefan to get back. “Its been a while” someone said, “Yeah its like that with him” Julie said. “One minute he’s here the other he’s just gone, but where the fuck is he now?” We all started laughing. They told me about nearly all instances where Stefan had vanished on their trip only to appear out of the blue. “Talking about the devil” There he was walking towards with a smile on his face. “You can’t just vanished like that” Julie said with a critical tone. “Sorry about that” Stefan replied. “I got good news, there is a good club further outside, the bad news is that we need a taxi to get there”. We looked at each other and all of us seemed to agree. Let’s just try it, seemed to be the word of the day, as 10min later we sat in a taxi heading out of old town.

I would normally be concerned about going to a night club with people I had just met, but I had a good feeling about this night and them. So we left the taxi. We could already hear the music from a distance, which was much better suited to our tastes already. There was a short queue outside and two big Russian bouncers checking people’s ID’s. I was slightly worried about my rather normal looking clothes as everyone else was dressed impeccably. I was the first one to go, flashed my German ID, and miraculously was let through. Everyone else seemed to have made it. “Where is Paulo?” I noted. “He was just behind us” Max went back outside to see what happened. “They won’t let him through” He said. “He’s already too drunk”. Shortly after the bouncer came back in and made an offer for us to pay 50€ to let let Paulo in. We stood there talking and figuring out what to do, when Paulo did make it through. “How did you do it? We asked. “I waited a bit and then explained to them that I were with you guys and that I was feeling ok now” he replied. We dropped off our coats at the cloakroom and made our way inside

Everyone looked very rich, judging from their clothes and from the price we paid for our beers. Once we turned the corner behind the bar we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. Girls and guys dancing half naked on podiums, big rows of VIP seats with bodyguards and at the bottom a large dance floor with a huge DJ podium and behind it three giant LED walls. We all just looked at each other “Its like out of a movie” we all agreed “Like triple X or something.” It was indeed a Russian club as one would expect from a Hollywood movie. We needed about 30min to process what we had gotten ourselves into, before we moved to the dance floor. Once we thought that it couldn’t get any crazier, was when the DJ turned down the lights and we had to clear the dance floor. A guy on a BMX bike appeared and was bouncing around the club, all the while flames were gushing out of the stage and girls liberally dressed shooting cold steam down at the crowd. Then the music got louder again and a shower of glitter confetti rained down on us. “WTF” We all just said to each other, “What a crazy place”. It was around 4am, still dumbfounded by our experience inside we left the club.

Paulo had already left about an hour earlier so it was only the four of us trying to get get a taxi back. However no one understood that we wanted to go to the train station. “Let me” I said and with one of the handful of only words I had learned in Russian “train station” was one of them. The taxi driver understood and we got on. “How did you know that?” They asked. “I assumed that nearly everyone in Latvia would speak Russian and if you’re planning to take the Trans Siberian “Train station should be part of your Russian vocabulary.”
We all laughed.