Today an interview with Martins Veidemanis, Spotter for our Riga Cityblog.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in Soviet Latvia and was lucky to see how its cracked. Like many locals I danced through my childhood in the green country side of Latvia. So the summers passed…
I read dozens of books… Fell in love few times… wrote some poetry and prose… Graduated… Worked as a salesman and sold billions of sweatpants… Moved to Riga… and still live here.
I have a son and a lovely wife and work at an airline company and now there is a spotting thing, for which I am happy like a kid with candy.
How do you like being a Spotter?
Becoming a Spotter was a long standing dream of mine. In 2010 I was planning my trip to Barcelona. As I have been there before and already enjoyed the main attractions and places that official tourist sites suggest, this time I searched for something more intimate, more special. Thanks god, there is Google and so my path with Spotted By Locals crossed for the first time.
The articles and spots I found here were extremely useful to me so I contacted Sanne about doing the same great and honorable thing for my city. Unfortunately they were not ready to expand yet.
A year later I had a journey to Belgium and again Spotted By Locals was a great help for planning the trip and ensuring it to be fantastic. And again I thought that Riga must definitely have this privilege. Without a doubt I sent an e-mail to Sanne to remind her about me and this time the timing was right so I became a Spotter for Riga.
Do I enjoy being one? For sure I do. Not only because I’m able to help fellow travellers get to know this great city better but also for a chance get to know Riga better myself. Oh boy, have I done that.
I explored Riga more thoroughly along with my studies years ago. It seemed a great city but somehow I did not feel those urban vibes completely and rather got out of the city as much as I could.
Then on a warm Autumn afternoon I met a girl sitting on a National Art Museum stairway. This moment changed the majority of my life. Some years have passed since that day. I am now a full time resident of Riga and I adore this city more and more each day.
In Riga you must walk as much as you can, keep your eyes open and look up higher than your nose :-).
Visit the so called Silent centre for some spectacular architecture. Wander down Old Town’s narrow side streets. Wake up early, along with the sun; Riga is so calm and beautiful before the crowds hit the streets. Stay up late and dive into the night with parties, dances and surprises. Be free and respectful and you will have some stories to tell your grandchildren.
Which prejudices about Riga are true? Which ones are not?
Riga has tons of beautiful girls that’s for sure but I would like to think that the absolute majority are not interested in short love with tourists. Some years ago Riga received strong publicity that you can charm a girl by showing a few euros. That’s false.
Riga has stunning architecture. That’s true.
Riga is a kind of underdeveloped capital of post Soviet country. False. In some fields Riga is way ahead of every Western European city.
What do you know about Riga that no tourist will know?
Local pearls! Places where magic happens. Look at my spots!
What is the most popular neighborhood to live in Riga at this moment?
I have always lived in city centre since I moved to Riga and don’t have much to complain about. You can try to do it as well and sure you will have the opportunity to experience most of those goodies Riga can offer to her people. But of course each neighbourhood has it’s charm!
Can you describe a perfect day in your city?
OK, let’s dream about it for a while. It is an early morning, no sleep in your eyes and you are completely awake. The weather seems perfect for a nice walk to check out some of the creative quarters that have evolved over the past years and can be a true inspiration.
A perfect start is to catch the sun rising up over river Daugava. Usually I can’t get up this early so for me this attraction will most probably be a miss. Anyway, buying a nice treat in farmers market at Bergs Bazaar (pictured at beginning) will be a delight no matter if you enjoyed the sunrise or slept through it.
A walk in Riga is a must so visiting Ķīpsala or Miera street usually does the magic for me. A pair of muffins from Muffins and More or a fresh pastry from Pajumte will give you some energy to explore more.
As the day passes I would grab some lunch at Andalūzijas Suns and then decide where to meet the night. If I am tired then a movie at Splendid Palace would be just fine and afterwards I’d order a drink or two at Chomsky or if the mood somehow goes on the naughty side, then Old Riga it is. Hello – Leningrad! Goodbye – clear head! … Oh, its morning again:)
Is there something else you want to share?
Fellow Riga citizens, it would be superb, if some of you could find the will and join with Riga Spotters to share our love of this beautiful city.
Fellow travelers, hope to meet you in Riga soon but if we somehow we miss each other, please, leave a feedback to the spots you have visited.
Check out all articles by Martins Veidemanis and our other Spotter interviews.