I arrived in Riga by bus from Klaipeda. The ride took around four hours. It was raining in Riga and since I could check in my Airbnb only post 6 pm, I had to find a place to keep my luggage at the bus station. By the time I did that, and located a store from where I could buy a SIM card (the SIM bought from Lithuania did not work in Latvia), it was almost 2 pm. Since it was raining, I stepped into a place opposite the bus station which looked like a market. This was a fascinating market split up into meat market, vegetable market, market for clothes and souvenirs and coffee shops and eateries. There was a wide variety of meat and food and this is definitely a must visit place if you are looking to visit the places where locals shop. After sometime the rain stopped by then and I explored the old town which is about a 5 minute walk across the bus station.
Riga old town has a similar vibe of Antwerp. Similar buildings, similar squares, similar cobbled streets and similarly situated on the banks of the river. Since I had only a few hours in Riga, I visited the top tourist spots in the city- Three brothers, Freedom monument, Riga Cathedral, Riga Town Hall square. Since the old town is quite walkable all the sights can be visited in 3-4 hours. But the most beautiful part of the city was the Bastejkalna Park. This is right opposite the Freedom monument. The park is right in the middle of the city and has a canal running right in the middle of it. It has lovely walkways and fountains. After a cold rainy day, the time spent in the park was very relaxing.
Next day, I left my luggage at the lockers at Riga railway station and left for Sigulda. The train ride to Sigulda took around and hour. Sigulda town is very beautiful and the moment you step out of the railway station, you are struck by how green the town is.
Sigulda is a spread out city and the 20 minute stroll through the town to the Sigulda to the Sigulda castle was very scenic. The Sigulda castle complex consists of two castles. Unfortunately one of the castles was closed for renovation. From the back of the castle, you get a majestic view of the Gauja Valley.
A must do thing in the Gauja Valley and the National Park is to take the cable car ride to the other side of the valley. The other side is the Krimulda village. There are many trails to walk through the forest and the valley. When I reached Krimulda village, I was the only person there and I decided to take the trail to the valley. The trail which I took was - Krimulda Castle- Gutman and Devils Caves- Gauja River and bridge - Devils Cliff- and back to Sigulda. The entire walk took me four hours and it was quite scary for a while because for the most part of the walk I was alone and it was a forest which did not seem to be a very popular trail. It did not help that I saw a snake cross my path near the river. It was fascinating since I saw a snake for the first time in my life in the wilderness.
The Gauja valley through is very beautiful and I must do if you are fond of lonely walks through the wilderness. Thankfully internet worked very well throughout the valley and unlike what usually happens when I go for such lonely walks, I did not get lost. Personally I was relieved when I reached civilization in Sigulda.
On reaching Sigulda I had amazing pancakes and coffee at a local eatery right across the railway station. Took a train back to Riga for by bus journey to Tallinn.
I wish I had more time in Latvia. Sigulda and Gauja valley are such fascinating places. And since there is so much to see and do here, one day in Sigulda just does not do justice to its beauty.