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Destinations · Europe · latvia · Riga · Routes ·

Different Shopping Tour

Author: Anothertravelguide.com0 COMMENTS

Different Shopping Tour

Just like children at a certain age start taking more interest in what's inside the teddy-bear and get impatient to stick their fingers into the saw-dust or bean stuffing, so is the seasoned traveller keen on taking a peek of the paths that do not cross the usual tourist routes marked in tourist guides and checking out a bit of what exists alongside the cultural landmarks and products marketed for tourists yet is never seen. The traveller wants to explore the hard-trodden paths favoured by the local city dwellers. Where do the young Rigans go for the supplies required to host a 1980s-style home party? Where do they go to buy a new reading-lamp or a knitted woolly hat? Where do they restock their empty onion basket? And what is it exactly that the locals fill their shopping baskets with? It is pretty clear, after all, that the daily diet of an average Rigan does not consist of Laima chocolates and the Riga Black Balsam liqueur - or, alternatively, if it does, how does said hypothetical chocolate-devouring balsam-guzzling Rigan keep in shape?

Walk the Old Town from the Freedom Monument to the embankment - you won't see anyone doing their morning exercises or jogging. That's because Riga is so much bigger than the Old Town quarters. At the same time, it is also compact enough to visit all the right places during a healthy cycling tour, including a small detour through the Riga Central Market to get some good eats - the 'proper' stuff. It is better done on the market day - on a Saturday morning following a Friday night party. Don't pass the sauerkraut stalls by - do stop and have a glass of kraut juice...

So why drink kraut juice and where do the best parties in Riga take place anyway?

To tell people all about the 'proper stuff' and all sorts of things, great, cool and perhaps somewhat weird, to offer an opportunity for visitors to step into the shoes of a native Rigan, the Different Shopping Tour (DST) was launched especially for people visiting the city, featuring an informative website at, based on the everyday choices and habits of Rigans.

Like any visitor, each of the locals has beaten his or her own paths, determined by personal interests, hobbies, taste and daily needs; this is why, preparing for the tour, the DST guides will try to learn more about the participants with the help of a questionnaire so as to adjust the itinerary within the boundaries of the available options - clearly, it is those sharing interests and those of kindred spirit who become friends after the initial getting to know each other.

In fact, shopping serves as the perfect platform for meeting people and making friends in an unfamiliar city: after all, alongside buying some useful things as well as perhaps making a few impulse purchases, you will also interact with shop assistants, waiters and owners of cafés and shops, thus learning quite a lot about the city and the oh-so-diverse people living in it, about their preferences and habits.

The DST guided tour for a small group (up to eight people) on Dutch Bike bicycles starts at the bicycle rental in Valkas Street (near Rūpniecības Street); first stop - the Riga Central Market where you can learn the secret of the mysterious kraut juice and check out delicious Latvian country-grown produce and ready-made delicacies in the little stores run by local food manufacturers, the sort of shops that will make sense even to the most confirmed of urban souls. At the next stop, you will be able to explore the place where the locals are most likely to stumble upon their stolen bicycles and where they go to order, say, size 47 (UK 12, U.S. 12 ½) Soviet army boots. And - no, these are by no means some of the most bizarre requirements of an average Rigan's everyday life. The diversity of the assortment carried at the Latgale Market(affectionately known as Latgalīte or The Little Latgale among the locals) is almost infinite.
The DST guides will help out where communicating with the vendors in English is concerned while also watching out for some of them to try and push through a 'convenient deal' - convenient for themselves, that is. Soon enough you will be heading back to the city centre, a locality of much gentler features.

Once there, visit the RIIJA design and life-style store for a mix of contemporary aesthetics and legacy of traditional Latvian crafts, as well as examples of the most unique trends typical of each of the Latvian regions. Then walk on to the Bergs Bazaar and check out the shelves of the Klase designer clothing store; perhaps you will be interested in designs by some of the local celebrities.

Typically, the Riga-based Latvian celebrities are quite down-to-earth people; they make no bones about mixing with the 'ordinary' crowd. The DST website features an Riga Icons section where you will find info that will help you identify some of them: perhaps you will run into the Latvian Pop Maestro Raimonds Pauls at a restaurant or on a street corner - easy to spot thanks to his idiosyncratic hand-wringing thing. There are also quite a few alternative celebrities residing in the Latvian capital, including Riga's own 'Elton John', Peksis the Punk Legend and the ever-young Dancing Lady of the Līvu Square, famous for her endless rotating dance routine to the blare of a portable cassette player.

As the shopping tour continues, you will pedal along to a selection of so-called hipster shops and hangouts. While the Riga hipsters are said to differ quite a lot from their counterparts elsewhere in the world, you will as likely as not manage to spot them and their world at the Bonēra cafeteria/vintage clothes shop and Pērle club/bar/shop.

Depending on your interests, the group can make a detour to include a few eco produce and/or vintage shops and outlets; the guides will make sure that some of Riga's most legendary antique shops are revealed to the antiquity hunters among you.
Those really hungry for fashion will be granted a somewhat longer trip to the Sky&More supermarket, complete with an opportunity to enjoy a private showroom with models showing off garments by Latvian fashion designers at the Taste Latvia store. Moreover, there will be no need for you to stuff your purchases - if there are any - into your bicycle bag: everything can be arranged to be delivered by a courier or picked up later at the Taste Latvia store at the Galerija Centrs shopping centre.

Speaking of bags and design - DST in collaboration with studio ArtBag have prepared special bike bags with the DST, Another Travel Guide and Tele2 logos. These are easily transformed into sling bags and can be taken with you on any of the tour stops. These ArtBag creations can also be purchased and refashioned or redesigned to your own taste and artistic vision.

Should you start to feel mildly frustrated as your group lingers at some fashion hub, try settling down in the sunshine outside the shop and checking the special compartment of your bag for a copy of Another Travel Guide Riga, an entertaining read that will provide information on the spots you will have already visited on your tour and help you pick your next destination.
The DST guides will be happy to take your interests into consideration. They will also help solve any urgent matters that may crop up - like finding a friendly, English-speaking dentist or tailor.

By building a relationship between visitors and locals, the DST tour has also given shops and cafés an incentive to liven up and show off their wares to their best advantage. The businesses listed by the special benefit card will not only grant its carrier a discount, but also present them with carefully prepared little surprises, like true country-style cranberry mors (a non-alcoholic beverage) at the Andaluzijas Suns restaurant, or canteen Gauja's absinthe and tarkhun (tarragon soda) cocktail.
The tour will conclude with hot lunch provided by Café Taka on the terrace at the former VEF factory.


- Costs: group ticket €25 p/p, individual ticket €30. Price includes guide services, lunch, shopping bag and bike hire, benefit card.
- Electric bike also available for hire (for additional fee of €60).
- DST in collaboration with TELE2 mobile operator provides our visitors with a mobile phone card for local calls.

The Different Shopping Tour meet-up venue and information desk can be found at the HobbyWool


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