WALES AWAY: Latvia Calling, Part One (08/09/23)

We didn’t arrive in Riga till the civilised pubs were closing. But we still managed to end up in a bit of a mess.

“Shall I make the rolls for the journey?” I suggested helpfully.

“What have you got to do?” Megan responded.

I paused,  thinking it was an odd question. Then calmly responded, “well, cut the rolls in half, spread butter on them….”

“NO!” She screamed. “I mean how much packing have you got left to do?”

It’s going to be one of those trips, I thought to myself.

Before we knew it, we were in a convoy down le M4. Posh, Becks, Posh’s favourite son, and Posh’s third favourite son in the lead car, me and my favourite fiancé following behind.

The journey flew by with The Wayners’ proving the soundtrack.  An album by Wayne Brooks of the French Blog fame. It is really rather splendid. It had four full listens before we changed CD.

“Pull the handbrake all the way up. It’s a bit pants, but it does work”. This note left on the seat of my car was necessary because Becks Brothers were too busy to repair it before we came away. APH the airport parking peeps were super efficient and friendly. The guy that drove the bus to the airport was so friendly, he is bound to get a slap on a regular basis.

Airport check-ins can take for ever and involve taking every item out of your hand luggage and putting in a different tray. Today,  however,  there was no queue,  no unnecessary separating and within a blink of an eye we were sat in Wetherspoons having the obligatory pre-flight pint.

Stand up and give yourself a pat on the back Air Baltic. The plane we flew over on was the best I’ve ever travelled on. There was plenty of leg room and on our side, there were rows of two seats together,  rather than the usual three. The cabin crew were unusually male centred, with Tommy Shelby out of Peaky Blinders and Clark Kent serving our food.

We had unusually treated ourselves to pre ordering food for the flight. I wasn’t expecting much, I didn’t believe the photos and assumed that the process of cooking then being vacuum packed and shoved in a little box, then shoved,  along with lots of other little boxes, into a trolley, would invalidate the term ‘gourmet’. But in fairness,  the meal was far more edible and tasty than it had any right to be.

I resumed reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves. The remarkably funny book on punctuation.  I learn that if I possess something then saying Evans’ and Evans’s are both correct.  Which is news’ to me. I didn’t realis’e the rule had changed and both were currently acceptable.

Which reminds me. (Excuse me while I digress to something I heard on the radio when I went to fill the car up.) Did you know Jetski is a brand name? Just like hoover has come to be synonymous with vacuum cleaners and even Dysons (or should that be Dyson’s) are referred to as hoovers. Jetskis are apparently made by Kawasaki. So not all jetskys are actually Jetskis. Only the Kawasaki ones.

All of this means that the BBC, which is not allowed to advertise,  has to use the term ‘Water Scooter’.

But anyway…

After spending ten minutes being grilled by an overly keen border guard; purpose of visit? Where are you staying? Do you think Ramsey is still up to the job? Why do you smell of piss? We were soon being picked up by an incredibly friendly taxi driver.

Our chauffeur advised us that the roadworks outside the airport were to improve the railway system. Apparently Latvian trains are a different gauge to other countries,  so they are widening tracks to facilitate international train travel.

Our apartment is in the old town, which is pedestrianised, so the driver gets us as close as he can then walks us to the apartment, which was unnecessary,  but incredibly valued.  We like him.

After spending two days pissing about with lock codes, we are out of the block and straight into a pub, which was all of 100 yards from our front door. Our apartment is over looking a beautiful little square full of bars and restaurants.  Or at least it would be if our room wasn’t looking out of the back of the building. We can see a nice fire escape though. With flowers,  instead of last week’s rat traps.

We have a few pints in the nearest restaurant. They tell us they are closing.  We don’t move. We take the hint when they eventually turn the lights out and go home, leaving us in the dark.

We go for a stroll to see what is about and within two minutes we are in a lively little establishment,  drinking cider and knocking back shots of Jagerbombs.

I’ll stop there, to protect those that are squeamish…