In Riga, Latvia, avoid the following bars and clubs

The US Embassy in Riga, Latvia, has issued a warning to American tourists to avoid certain establishments that have become “notorious for credit card fraud extortion scams, prostitution rings and violence by organized criminals.”

What’s more, the embassy has prohibited all of its employees from doing business at these places.

They are as follows:

  • “Foxy Lounge” – Terbatas 2; located below the “Fashion Café” in the basement of the “Vegas” casino at the corner of Terbatas and Merkela streets near the flower market.
  • “Roxy Klub” – Kalku 24; located near the entrance to Old Town on Kalku street.
  • “Lord’s Pub” (formerly “Groks Pub”)-Kalku 22; located next door to Roxy Klub.
  • “Puzzle” (formerly “Pink Panther”)-Kalku 22; also located next door to Groks Pub.
  • “Mary” – Audeju 13; located on the east side of Galleria “Centrs” Mall.
  • “DD Bars”
  • “Saxon” – Laipu 7; located near “Livu Square” in a small street to the right of restaurant “Steiku Haoss”.
  • “Doll House” a.k.a “Zig Zag” – Marstalu 12; located to the right of Reformed Church.
  • “Bar Fly” – Vagnera 8; located near “Livu Square” in a small street to the right of “Roxy”, “Groks” and “Pink Panther”.
  • “Zephry Bar” – located near Galleria Center in Old Town, near the youth hostel.
  • “Mademoiselle Cigar Club” – Valnu street; located in Old Town across from “Lounge 8”.
  • “Nobu Sushi” – Grecinieku 28; located in Old Town.

Riga, Latvia: the best place you’ve never been

A lot has changed since the Cold War ended. If this is news to you, please stop reading immediately. You don’t want to drink water from a fire hose. But, if you are in fact aware that the Berlin Wall fell (and that David Hasselhoff provided the soundtrack, to the joy of Germans and the chagrin of Americans), then keep going. You’re about to find out why you need to get out to Riga, Latvia.

The days of bugged hotel room phones may be in the past, but you can still see the equipment used to defend the Eastern Bloc against the evils of capitalism at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia – a name that makes clear how welcome the Russian’s were in this corner of the world. However, these devices are notably absent from the , now a primo site in what is sometimes called the Paris of the Baltics.

Cruise along Albert Street to enjoy the city’s architectural high-points, including facades adorned with serpents, birds, flowers and female faces. German, Austrian and Finnish influences converge on this small nation to create a unique blend that is hard to find anywhere else. With cobblestone under foot, you will soak in the history of this city, and this country, through the faces of its buildings.

Stop by the Central Market while you’re in Riga. It occupies five old Zeppelin hangars, with each representing a different food group: meat, fish, dairy, bread and produce. Also, stop by Laima, the country’s top local chocolate-maker, and make sure you leave room in your bags to bring some home.

When the Iron Curtain was pulled back, we celebrated, and we moved on. Many of the countries once obstructed from view were merely forgotten. Remember them, and add them to our itinerary. As time passes, relics of the communist era will be supplanted by the latest iteration of modernity. The clock is ticking.

Oh, and don’t speak Russian!

Hospital-themed restaurant in Latvia. Check in like a patient and order up a meal

Here’s another unsual restaurant that joins the ranks of off beat eateries like the Toilet Restaurant in Taiwan.

In Riga, Latvia, folks who head to the restaurant Hospitalis check in as if they are patients in a hospital. Once seated in the midst of operating tables, medical equipment and other hospital related paraphenelia, nurses wait on them.

The nurses are not real nurses, just dressed that way. Kind of. Their attire looks more like the va va va voom variety than the nurses who wear sensible shoes. Also, they can play the violin.

By the looks of the menu, this is not a restaurant with everyday food either. The offerings tilt toward the creative and interesting, particularly if you like fish.

In this recent post about Hospitalis in Jaunted, Victor Ortis, who lived in Riga after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, describes the drinks as being served in beakers and test tubes and the food in flasks and operating room dishes.

Although it doesn’t sound as if Ortis has eaten here, he surmises that the fact Hospitalis exists might indicate that Latvia has moved up in the culinary world from the days he ate a “Flake Burger–a thin, nondescript slice of meat on a waffle.

The photos are from Hospitalis’s website. The nurses were playing the violin during the restaurant’s opening.