Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Arriving in Riga

I believe Arnhild has been in touch with everyone about arrival times in Riga, Latvia on Saturday, July 28 (or earlier in some cases). Our bus will be meeting and transporting most of the group.

The Riga airport (lidosta) is about 8 km southwest of the center of Riga. First you show your passport at Passport Control (if there’s a crowd, remember to get in the line for non-citizens and non-EU citizens. Next comes baggage claim (with free carts sitting around that you can use). On the off chance that your baggage doesn’t arrive, go to the Lost & Found Service located in the arrival area and file a report. They will arrange to have the luggage delivered to you at the hotel.

Then pass through customs and security control, which normally goes pretty quickly. If you are going into Riga on your own, you might want to get some local currency at this point. In the airport, some sellers may take euros, but it is not the legal tender. (See my posting “What about money?” [posted on June 5] for information about the Latvian lat.) In the arrival area there is a currency exchange booth, which is open until the last flight comes in each evening. There are also three ATMs throughout the terminal. (The Latvians call them “automats” in case you need to ask where one is located.)

Let me first report what the guide “Riga in your pocket” has to say about getting to town: “A queue of eager taxis will be waiting for you outside the arrivals hall. A typical ride to Vecriga (Old Town) or the city center (where our hotel is located) should cost no more than 9 Ls.” [Actually it was more like 6-8 Ls. in May.]

Then let me add my 2-santim’s worth: The best, most reliable taxi company in Riga is called “Rigas T” or “Rigas taksometris.” All of these cabs are red Renaults, and I am including a photo I took in May of the one that took us back to the airport from Vecriga. If you have a mobile phone and want to call one, there is a toll-free number: 800 13 13.

When you call one, they will take the information (in English) and your phone number. Then they will call to confirm when the taxi is on its way, and they will even give you the taxi’s car number (located in a white circle on the front doors--above it's #74).

Conveniently, Rigas T has its headquarters at our hotel, Reval Hotel Latvija. In fact, if you want to e-mail the hotel ahead of time and ask them to have a taxi waiting for you at the airport, they will provide this service and it will be a Rigas T. They bill your hotel room and you can pay them when you check out. The website for the hotel is The e-mail address is, the telephone number is +371 (country code for Latvia from the US) 777 22 22, and the fax number is +371 777 22 21.

In the unlikely chance that the cabbie doesn’t know where Hotel Latvija is, tell him (or rarely her) its 55 Elizabetes.

By bus

If you are really adventurous and you don’t mind schlepping luggage up and down the steps of a bus, Bus no. 22 (a bargain at 30 santims) goes from the far side of the airport parking lot to the train station (about 10 blocks from our hotel) every 20 minutes. Good news: the express bus no. 22A goes to the Orthodox Cathedral (less than one block from our hotel); bad news: it runs on an erratic timetable. But, if you’re really adventurous…


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