As part of my quick tour of the Baltics, I spent a day or so in Riga. It was extremely clean. Riga has an old town but it is not as medieval as Tallin’s. In Riga, on the main square, the bricks are laid out to show where the old houses were torn down to make way for the grand square.
I still managed to find some buildings from before 1700 but it took some hunting.
I went to a market that is trendy. I think I preferred the famous central market located in the zeppelin hangars.
If one likes markets like I do, then visiting the massive multi-building hangar market in Riga is a treat. I hired a guide and went on a tour. Her information is in the last photo. She had to branch out during COVID and worked in a salon.
The most fascinating part of the tour to me was eating at the Soviet era cafe. The food was Latvian but the decor was kept the way it looked during communism.
Estonian food is so different than Italian food. But in a way, very familiar. I went a well known restaurant, Rataskaevu, in old town Tallin and ate in a picturesque tavern.
Of course, I tried the elk. But I did not like it as much as the salmon soup and the rye bread.
Near me was an international group of friends who had travel over from Stockholm, Sweden, for lunch, emphasizing how small the distances can be up here in the Nordic-Baltic region where the transportation and WIFI are fast.
In Tallin, all the restaurant staff spoke excellent English. It make visiting quite easy.
Tallin is a favorite city for many people and I asked one where he thought I should eat. He recommended Moon, and it was delicious.
When I admitted to the waitress that I did not like the pickled appetizer platter, she admitted that generally one needed to be drinking vodka with it.
The “Chicken Kiev” was the best I have had. It was light, moist, juicy, buttery, crunchy, and delicate.
I have been to some of the award winning airports like Singapore and Rome Fiumincino, but I think Estonia’s Tallin airport might be my favorite.
While it is a small airport, for a small country, the aiport is unusual on the outside and the inside. It is blue on the outside which is unusual. And on the inside, the chairs are colorful in a cultural design that hint at tradition in a very modern country.
The airport has play areas for children and child-like people. The shop is a small emporium of cards, food, traditional crafts, and duty free.
The airport in Tallin left me with a good impression. The country did too. More on that another time.
Who knew that this would be a thing? But, just as TexMex is trending, so is Vietnamese food, just in a quiet way. The selection is not great here but this is what I have managed to find:
Thien Kim Roof Garden, Via Cassia 927: Located on the roof of a strip mall out to the north of Rome, way too far for me.
Banh Mi, Via Otillia 10: the only banh mi in town. They get their food products (beef jerky, bread rolls, etc.) from Thien Kim. The owner, Mara, is married to a Vietnamese man. The restaurant opened in October 2022, just two blocks from the Coliseum. They serve rice noodle bowls, banh mi sandwiches, summer rolls, papaya salad, and rice ravioli. Check them out. They are delicious. Also many vegetarian options.
Nunu, Via Varese 38/40: Good food. Not sure what their soup is like. Indoor and outdoor seating. Located near the train station.
Pho 1, Via Meruluna 115-116: I wanted to like this popular place. It was okay but the soup was not soul pleasing.
Mekong, Via Enea 56a: I have not been here. They are only open at night. The reviews show mixed reactions and the owners are aggressive online so I’m too afraid to eat here.