Alfa Centrs (Alfa Centers)(Brīvības gatve 372, Riga) – this is a popular shopping center, located in the northeastern outskirts of Riga. Most of the retailers are local and regional (selling everything from apparel to footwear, electronics, furniture, etc.). International brands seen here are Crocs, Ecco, H&M, Mango, Pull and Bear, Puma, The Body Shop, and Zara.
Āraiši Archaeological Museum Park (Drabeši parish, Āraiši) – this is a cultural historical monument situated in the Cēsis region. It consists of reconstructed buildings from the Stone and Bronze Ages, ancient Latgalians settlements from the 9th-11th centuries, as well as castle ruins from the Livonian period. Āraiši Lake Castle is presently the most extensively studied site of this kind in the whole of northeast Europe.
Over 20 small wooden houses on an island in the Āraiši Lake can be visited, as well as a number of other cultural historical monuments, including a Dutch style windmill. That windmill was built from a wall of boulders, covered with mortar; its diameter at the foundation is 11 meters and 6 meters at the top. The building is 12 meters high. The windmill was used up until the beginning of World War I. Hours: 9 am – 7 pm. Email for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Arena Riga (21 Skanstes Street, Riga) – this arena is the host of the professional Latvian hockey team Dinamo Riga (which is part of the Continental Hockey League (CHL), the world’s second most powerful hockey organization). Dinamo’s games have attracted a big audience — both the players and CHL officials have genuinely acknowledged that it is in Riga that the best hockey atmosphere in the whole league can be found. What’s more, Dinamo Riga has demonstrated noteworthy performances, fighting all Russia’s super-clubs as an equal, regularly entering the CHL playoffs.
Aside from the hockey games, a number of rock and pop concerts are also held here. Musical acts such as Depeche Mode, Rihanna, Eros Ramazzotti, Sting, Kylie Minogue, Peter Gabriel, Eric Clapton, and many others. Visitors can go to Arena Riga’s website for ticketing and other info on upcoming events and hockey games: www.arenariga.com
Bellagio Café (Royal Casino Hotel & Spa Resort, Terbatas 73, Riga) – located within this luxury hotel, the futuristic-looking lounge furniture provides a great backdrop for any clubbing night.
36.Linija (36.Linija 1202, Jurmala) – located within the nearby seaside resort town of Jurmala, this beachside restaurant serves a variety of local dishes, such as black cod fillet (with steamed asparagus, spinach and white-wine foam); steamed mussels in white-wine sauce (served with toasted garlic baguette); Chilean seabass fillet with honey glaze; and yogurt-marinated chicken breast. This, along with some vegetarian dishes.
The country of Latvia, like its northern neighbor Estonia, was a victim of geography throughout time, due to its location facing the Baltic Sea. Back in the 13th century, German invaders converted the local population to Christianity and formed the crusader state of Livonia (together with parts of Estonia). A conflict called the Livonian War (1558-1583) caused Latvia to fall under Polish and Lithuanian rule. The Polish-Swedish War (1600-1611) turned the country over to Swedish rule (making its main city, Riga, the capital of “Swedish Livonia”). Then, during the Great Northern War (1700-1721), Russia’s Peter the Great took over Latvia in 1710, as part of his military campaign against Sweden.
Latvia remained under Russian rule under 1917 (with Riga becoming the largest port of the Russian Empire, and waves of industrialization taking place there). With World War I devastating much of the Latvian countryside, and falling under German occupation, the independent Republic of Latvia was formed just after that conflict ended (1918). After Nazi Germany declared war on Russia during the early days of World War II, Latvia fell under German occupation yet again (from 1941 to 1944 – when the Russian reasserted control over the country). Latvia (a.k.a. Latvian SSR) stayed under Soviet control from the end of World War II until the collapse of Communism toward 1990 (that year, Latvia became independent again). By 2004, Latvia joined both the European Union (EU) and NATO.
Like its northern neighbor Estonia, Latvia yearns to do away with its Soviet past and embrace a more prosperous future that it hopes to achieve with European Union membership. For that reason, tourism is become a growing part of the country’s economy (averaging 6.4% of GDP from 2000-2012), with visitors coming mainly from Germany, Sweden, Lithuania, and Russia. The capital city, Riga, has preserved much of its historic past (going back to the Middle Ages), which is a natural draw for tourists, and more and more European and international travelers are still discovering this country. Latvia hopes to capitalize on its adoption of the Euro as its currency, which took place in January 2014.