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Normal Places, Riga

On the random mundane in Riga.

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RIGA, Latvia- I ended up on the fringes of the old town, walking on the bank of the river. It was after 9PM, it was still light out. Latvia is in the far north, and after the long winter the sun doesn’t like to rest. The river was black, and seemed to just be sitting down there, as though too board of running to continue, as still as the gray sky above. Nobody else was around and I just looked out at the bridges and the peculiar, lonely office and hotel towers on the other side.

Some hours earlier I was walking around the market area as the vendors were closing up for the day. I watched as they placed their unsold produce neatly into cardboard boxes and tossed the chaff onto growing piles of garbage. Some customers scurried in to pick up last minute foodstuffs for dinner on their way home from work. The street drunks were yelling at each other, making messes of themselves, or slumped on the moist stone underpass beneath the rail bridge.

I walked over to the back side of the bus station and stood over a narrow canal that had the same, black, lightwave hoarding water. I watched the trolley running by on the other side, taking people home after long days of work. I wondered what they would do once they got there — what they would eat, what they would talk about. The central market rose up beyond the trolley tracks. It was grungy, built to be used, not to impress, I found myself wondering why it was built like it was, what it looked like here before, I wondered. . .

It’s the normal in travel that’s the most intriguing.



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Filed under: Latvia, Travel Diary

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3719 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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