Text: Sander Kersten
ROUGH RIGA (translated in to English by the lovely Anna P)
This 100th edition of FHM was a good reason to fly to Riga. Because of cheap vodka and beautiful women...
• Latvian currency is the Latvian Lat. 1 Lat is 1.40 Euros
• The distance Amsterdam-Riga is 1334 kilometers
• Usually the flight takes you about two hours
• In Riga it is one hour later than in the Netherlands
• We flew with AirBaltic from Schiphol airbaltic.com
• We encountered three groups of people in Riga: Latvians, Russians and tourists
• The tourists don't have too good an image in this city because of the many English stag parties in the past
Riga, Latvia. Before the trip started FHM did some reading online and we found some scary stories. On men who get tricked into bars by girls, wherein the ladies order a bottle of red wine which then happens to cost 600 euros. Would you like to pay the bill, sir? Those type of stories. Hmm, and that is where we are going to celebrate the 100th edition of FHM? Yes. Because us, the righteous and dupeable men of FHM will be sheltering under the safe wings of the Riga Out There (R.O.T) Team. They are running a hostel and organizing all sorts of stuff out an about the city and they know how to pass time. And the nicest thing: because of the balanced program we only need to give a chronological overview of our activities. And that is great, because we do have an enormous hangover.
FHM had never really heard of Air Baltic before, which is strange, because we noticed that this flight agency is by no means worse than KLM or any other pan-European agency that is not called Aeroflot. So, spruce and thirsty, at 17.50 we are standing at the Riga Airport. And - yes, very proper - there is the English Graham and the fluent Dutch speaking Latvian Anna. They come together with Milly the Moskwich: a type of Trabant, but then Russian. We will be honest: upon arrival Riga does not seem beautiful and the weather... does not make us happy either. You need to be able to see the beauty of a city that has known tough times during the World War II and was then packed with Russian industrial architecture. There are however parts of the Old Town that look really nice and cosy.
We then arrive at the House Hostel run by R.O.T. We meet the boss Austin (a.k.a. Oz), the American Latvian (and cook) Karlis and the charming Danija. And then, God knows where from, Oz the boss magically puts three gorgeous, long-legged and platin blond models to celebrate FHM's arrival. Hurrah! The vodka bottles are opened and the noisy American fills the plates up with food. This warm welcome sweeps us off of our feet a little. The plan is as follows: on Friday the guys are taking us out, and on Saturday the Riga Out There ladies take us over. We are ok with everything, because it's the 100th FHM edition.
Skyline Bar (revalhotels.com)
At 10 pm we are starting the night at the Skyline Bar. Now that's a sexy cocktail lounge with a dance floor on the top floor of the Reval Hotel. Here you get the best cocktails (White Russiand and Mojitos for us) and you are not believing what you are seeing. The most beautiful, long-legged ladies are starting the first cautious dances of the weekend. Together with vhe-ery ugly, presumably rich guys.
After a few cocktails we start the real deal at Club Amber, in the basement of that same hotel. There's a guest list, but thanks to the waffling of our R.O.T friends we manage to get inside into the what can best be described as the nicest side of the hell. You could also call it the heaven, but there you have other type of women, let's put it this way. At Amber we are the only guys and it is a mystery what all those tightened up, super-high-heeled and latexed ladies are doing there. No, it's not that kind of a club. We believe at least.
Push Club (push.lv)
Too bad, the leader Oz wants us to move on. Because we are going to Push, an enormous new club run also by a Dutch guy who is busy doing vague things in the “transportation circuit” . Aha. Because of the matching nationality we receive a great number of free vodka and a guided tour by the chief: wonderful ceilings, ladies dancing in cages and on stages and a huge casino.
Club Essential (essential.lv)
Moving on to the best-known club of Riga: Essential. Various dance halls with different music styles make sure that everyone can find something to their taste. From oldies to rattling techno – you find it at Essential. After two hours FHM has seen enough and we are heading to an underground club.
Once we get into the queue, we must remain silent – the R.O.T. guys have to do the talking because they don't like seeing tourists here that much. Piens (Latvian for “milk” and because of the ladies renamed as the tits bar) is a cool bar-club for the hip incrowd of Riga. Not advisable, unless you know someone or you go together with the R.O.T guys because you are not getting inside just like that. The conclusion is: good music, cool people and a beautiful place. Results: seven o'clock. Bed time!
Puke in a Box
It's 12 o'clock and we are dragged out of our beds by the loud cook Karlis, then thrown in the shower and pushed into a van. Uhm yes, the Soviet kidnapping techniques are still practiced here. Before we know it, we are on the highway driving through the green Latvian scenery. Karlis is telling us about a fight that he had gotten into long after FHM had gone to bed. Damn, that guy is hyperactive; how does he do it? We are soon about to find out. We stop at a supermarket and Karlis runs inside. FHM slowly doze away, finally some peace. For a nanosecond. There he is again. Tens of half liter bier cans, bread and four buckets with puke. Well that is what it looks like: puke in a box. Temperature-wise, too. It appears to be a box with a special mix of baked potato, bacon and egg. Great hangover food, definitely with a bier. Eeuw. By the way, half a kilo of puke costs less than a euro in Latvia!
We are passing an outdoors-free-fall-case-with-large-propeller (can be booked with R.O.T.) and we drive through to the bobsleigh track. The same thing that was in the Winter Games of Sarajevo (1984) and was then sold to Latvia. A wonderful thing, especially because it all looks a bit creaky. We get tickets to run down a few times with the summer bobsleigh. On wheels, but still good enough for 80 kilometers an hour! “I will write to your mother that you were brave at death”, Boris roars with laughter as the bob is pushed into the track. Fuckski, that goes fast! We are shaking into all directions and we need to hold ourselves spastically. This is something that definitely would not be allowed in the Netherlands. Great! Another thing that would not be happening in the Netherlands is the next stop in our program. Shooting! AK-47, riot gun and a glock! Check the movie on FHM.nl.
The ladies Anna and Danija from R.O.T. are now taking FHM under their wings. That's good because we feel quite “raw” from the night before and women cannot drink anyway, right. Wrong. Latvian women can! We start calmly at the super hip restaurant Istaba. And there again: many beautiful girls, but then a different kind of girls. Those are really stylish girls. It all reminds a bit of Berlin.
To be dressed appropriately we are taken to Pērle, a vintage shop that sells bier and strong drinks as well. The owner (two-fold cover of FHM Latvia and an MTV vj) tells us: “We can stay open as long as we want. Yesterday we went on for the whole night, that's why my voice sounds so bad. Sorry, I need some whiskey”. There, this makes shopping a lot more fun. We buy some really wrong stuff to complete our standard outfits, we drink some bier and vodka and around midnight we hit the Dirty Deal Cafe. A great place with techno in an old shed.
The place is just a bit empty, so we head to Space Garage. A rancid club on the top floor of an old building that seems to be completely empty. Stylish people, transvestites and again lots of cheap vodka. Finally, with a pitstop at Pelmeni (hearty Russian food) we come at Piens. Anna is angry with her colleague Oz: “This club was supposed to be part of my hip evening instead of your club night. How can it be that you were already here yesterday?” Oh well, not much fun here any longer and soon it is sunrise at Piens.
Two nights of drinking until the early morning. You feel it, but you also get used to it. After a tough breakfast James from eatriga.lv picks us up. He takes us with him on his mountain bikes to the spots of Riga that are not easily found by tourists. We cycle through an old Jewish ghetto, Communist districts and an industrial area. TROOSTELOOS, impressive and wonderful at the same time. A good advice how to cycle the hangover out of your body and to pick up some memorable culture and history. And to justify this trip to our FHM PENNINGMEESTER we must have a bier as a little reward.
While having our bier and sausage we get a phone call from Oz. With the excuse of “the 100th edition of FHM” he has managed to arrange complete access to Espa Riga. It is a spa treatment place (one of the most beautiful in the world, according to our colleagues from the British FHM), 6 floors high, full of modern-classical luxury which makes one feel as if being in Dubai. Our alcohol winding guys club is bubbling and bathing, eating fruit in a ridiculously soft rope, and reading – oops – women's magazines. We balance it with a kebab later on, followed by an AirBaltic trip back home. Two days of Riga cost us two years of our lives, but it is certainly worth it.
RIGA OUT THERE (R.O.T.)
These people know what is hot in Riga and they can arrange a complete weekend for you from clubs to activities to legitimate culture. They can arrange various advantageous deals: as we speak there's even a special discount at the kebab place. You can look for information on your own, but the R.O.T. people actually know everything that needs to be known.
Check them also on http://rigaoutthere.hyves.nl and on Facebook.
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