Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Riga has Top Hostel in the World

First of all it was Australian day now The Australians have done it again.

A world first for Latvia !!

F.... and his hostelry have just been awarded the title "best Hostel in the world" as voted by the people who stay in it.

The award ceremony was held in Dublin last night

Unreal - it only opened in March of this year, and is now officially the best in the world.

PS - this a world exclusive for ScotinRiga

For all of you want to check out the hostel see the link to the right.

Just found official confirmation

Friendly Fun Frank’s Backpacker Hostel in Riga, one of the Latvian capital’s most popular hostels, has won the much coveted award of ‘Best Hostel in 2005’, as voted for by Hostelworld.com customers.

Speaking at the award ceremony, owner of the hostel Frank Kerry said he was “over the moon” when asked how he felt after winning the award. “We’ve only been open ten months and we wouldn’t have thought in our dreams that it would be possible.”

Frank added it is the personal touch that makes his hostel so popular. “It is a personal place. When people first come in we greet them, give them a complimentary drink and give them the dos and don’ts about Riga. Basically we look after them from the moment they walk in. From the outside our building is nothing. But when backpackers walk in, they’re surprised. They’re welcomed with a drink and taken by the hand from the time they enter to the time they leave. Obviously they appreciate it because you see the reviews and the comments they make.”
More than 500,000 hostel users voted selected the winning hostels from more than 10,000 properties featured on the Hostelworld.com. The customers, who booked their hostel stays online, were surveyed after their stay and asked to grade their hostel based on six different criteria: character, security, location, staff, fun and cleanliness.

The coveted “Hoscar” Awards ceremony was part of Hostelworld.com’s 2nd annual Hostel Conference which was hosted in the Hilton Hotel, Dublin and featured speakers on a variety of topics relevant to the hostel industry including yield management, branding, crisis management and low cost airfares.

The awards were presented at a ceremony in the Temple Bar Music Center in Dublin and were attended by more than 300 hostel owners and managers from around the world.
Here is the full list of winners:
1. Friendly Fun Frank’s Backpacker Hostel, Riga, Latvia
2. Picasso's Corner Backpackers Hostel, Malaga, Spain
3. Mama's Hostel, Krakow, Poland
4. Oasis Backpackers Hostel, Granada, Spain
5. Athens Backpackers, Athens, Greece
6. Wombats City Hostel, Munich, Germany

Friday, January 27, 2006

Its been a funny old week

What can you say about a week which started at -31 degrees and has finished up at 0 degrees and a forecast of +2 degrees over the weekend.

Well in this part of the world I guess the word would be Typical !!

One thing which did strike me this week was the response to the last little blog, regarding my methods for keeping warm. It has obviously created a wealth of comments and actually managed to inspire some of you blog readers to reply with a comment.

In the early days I did receive a few comments, but in recent months very few if any - but suddenly comments galore regarding "Man in Tights" - I wonder why ?- jealousy perhaps or even envy.

It was interesting too see how many people wanted to shake my hands to see if there was a spark between us .....hmmmmm.

The Cretin brigades are getting younger, noticed a group last night who were barely out of there nappies, but thinking they were Gods gift to women kind.

Not sure what the weekend will bring, did briefly think about going to a Burns Supper, being organised by the British Chamber of Commerce, but even with the kind offer of a free ticket, courtesy of British Airways ( many thanks to A.... ( Bristolian) and his good Lady Y..... ( Latvian and BA member of staff) - but have decided to decline.

I went some years ago to the same event, and it was a night when you could play spot the Scotsman - English, Latvian et al - but the Scots were few and far between. And as I do not drink whiskey, do not dance ( at least not the Scottish jigs) - I think a wise decision was reached.

No rugby this weekend, so I suspect a quite one is in store, maybe it is time to go and see King Kong.

Update on Smiley Campaign - Tele2 have been kind enough to agree to supply free of charge brand new handsets, and to give them corporate rate charges, which will mean they can call each other for 1.3 centimes per minute.

Also can those of you who wish to visit Zvannieki, weekend of 18/19 February please let me know

Finally for those of you interested who on earth reads this blog

Kinda fascinating just how a simple blog can be accessed in so many countries whether by accident or design - but clearly the word is spreading.

To the guys in Blackpool, UK, - Dublin , Ireland and Eastwood, Australia - who were searching using the search phrase "Tights" - WHY ? - but glad you found the blog. If you are wondering how I know where the people are located see below


Nothing is secret from the ScotinRiga blogger - however if you are interested just double click on the Sitemeter counter underneath the clock on the right of the web page, and select statistics and you to can see who is/has visited.

To all and sundry - have a good weekend

Monday, January 23, 2006

Man in Tights

Have I mentioned that it is a bit on the chilly side here in Riga ?

Well it is around -31 degrees last night, and it has been averaging around - 21 during the day, for the last few days.

Now I have to confess that I am a little sensitive to the cold, in particular my ears, fingers and toes

Each of us have been trying to find a way of keeping warm, S.... ( Welsh) has even bought a pair of gloves, so that proves it must be cold -however he has not bought a hat. Maybe it is something to do with his previous rugby playing days - brain-dead ?

Anyhow one evening last week A... (Bristolian) and I were discussing methods of keeping warm, and he did mention that builders in the UK, in cold weather, often take to wearing women's tights to keep warm.

Now this did strike me as a bit extreme, but it did suggest that perhaps time to buy long johns, however one small snag - no long johns in Riga, or at least I could not find them. So Plan B was put into action - buy women's tights.

Now I do not recollect ever having to buy women's tights, but have you seen the choice ? they are hundreds of designs - I was quite taken with the black pair and a thin red line up the back. But as this would have meant spending hours making sure the line was straight ( remember I iron socks) so purchased normal brown ones - large large size. God knows what the shop assistant thought.

And now I hear you ask do they work, well first let me say I am glad I am not a woman, having to put those things on every day, but the simple answer is yes they do work, my legs and nether regions are warm, even when walking in the cold.

However I have to confess to some misgivings, and I worry that people can tell, and the amount of static electricity that I generate is unreal.

Relatively quiet weekend, apart from mass cretins from Liverpool et al, thankfully they are not Rugby supporters so managed watch Rugby on Sunday afternoon in relative peace in P.... W....., The MU fans were in large non smoking room awaiting their beloved Man U, however joined the De Lacey's in crowd - P... ( English - with dead leg) - S..... ( Welsh with attitude and no hat) J... ( Irish and soon to be builder of submersible buses) , F.... ( Australian - and is apparently immune from cold) - to watch the final few minutes of same game.

A nice way to end the weekend, friends, beer and cretins - well two out of three is not bad.

And to those who read the blog, do not ask about the Tights - or whether I am wearing them, if you must know, just shake my hand - if we "spark" then you will know the answer. Supposedly temperature is going to rise to -6 degrees tomorrow, but with snow. - Magic !!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

It is just a wee bit chilly

Some time ago I mentioned the wonderful "Sweeper Uppers" who religiously every morning are out on the streets sweeping up whatever has come down overnight. Well despite the weather ( -27 early this morning) - they are still there. God only knows how they cope with the cold.

Normally to have my intake of nicotine at the office I have to step outside onto the fire escape stairwell - well I have to say that with these low temperatures I am close to giving up smoking, by the time I have lit up and taken the first few puffs, all of my extremities are duly frozen.

The forecast suggests it is going to warm up by the weekend - it will then be only -15 degrees - wonderful !

What I find astounding, is that here we are with really low temperatures, yet there they are standing outside McDonald's eating there ice cream

Mind you as is my fashion the cold was not enough to stop having a beer last night, as usual a slightly chilled one !

One group of individuals who are over the moon with this cold spell - fishermen - or at least those who like to sit in the middle of the Daugava, drill little holes, stick a piece of string tied to a wooden pole and sit there in the hope that a passing fish will succumb the charms of whatever they have put on the end of the hook. If any of you can remember the film "Grumpy Old Men" then you will know what I talking about, except in Latvia there is no little hut to sit inside, just one of those cloth folding chairs. A hardy lot these ice fishermen ! Do not think I am talking about a few people, some days there are hundreds of people sitting in the middle of the river in the middle of Riga - a strange sight.

Assuming this weather lasts for a while, and it seems it will, then once again I can venture down to the beach and walk on the sea - have not done it for a couple of years, but perhaps this weekend.

Right now I am sitting in a warm office, and looking outside, it looks like a perfect summer's day - clear blue skies, and the sun is shining - but as the man said - looks can be deceptive.

However as it was -40 in Moscow yesterday, I suppose we should not complain - it could be worse.

Speaking of worse this morning I tried to find my dead rabbit hat, but to no avail, so I had to settle for my woolie - but a search of said homestead will take place this evening, as it is the only hat in my possession which does beat the extreme cold - and I must find out where I can buy long johns.

Never needed them before but with age come an increased sensitivity to cold particularly in the nether regions.

Also can someone please explain why the bladder is so direly affected by the cold - One minute in the cold and the alarms bells go off - and off to the loo -never happens when it is warm. yet another mystery of nature as yet unresolved.

We have a new Scottish type person in our midst -I.. ( hates the Swiss - well at least one and is setting up a business here in Riga, which no one can understand - not Riga the Business !!)

In his short time here he has become a nightly fixture at De Laceys, he claims the exercise of walking to and from this establishment is helping lose weight - hmmmmmmmmmm.

Well as this blogger prepares to head into the evening cold, to those in warmer climes - well this weather is still going to be here when you arrive at the end of the month

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Zvannieki has a Blog

Samta has gone technical - she has created a blog devoted to Zvannieki home, I have put a link on the blog, but if you want to check it out, go to :


Also this week J.... ( he of diminutive stature - but with a big heart) donated soft toys and clothes. We will take these out when we visit in Mid February. One question however "where did they come from" or has J.... finally decided that he would give up his soft toys and found something better to sleep with ?

And finally we need to get some mobile phones, so if you have a spare one, bring them in, so we can get them to the older kids.

Monday, January 16, 2006

And now for the weather

Now you know why you never see brass monkeys in Riga !!

Smiley Fund Bank Account

We have finally managed to open the account with Rietumu Bank

Details are :

Rietumu Bank
Brivibas iela

IBAN Code : LV80RTMB0000600804033

Friday, January 13, 2006

A fond Farewell to Harald

As many of you already know Harald died last week. Today his funeral took place, at the crematorium near Mezaparks, Riga.

I cannot claim to have known Harald very well, having only met him in the latter part of last year - needless to say watching Rugby and having a beer.

He was a lovely man - intelligent, warmhearted and a lover of all things Latvian.

He claimed both Australian and Latvian citizenship, and some two years ago married, and had a son Edwards- by his wife Marite. Life for both of them will be hard now that Harald has passed on.

It is at time like this, that one begins to think of ones own mortality, particularly in my case as Harald was only 61 years young, and with my impending entry into the 60's who knows what the immediate future holds.

It was good to see so many of his friends both Latvian and English speaking attend his service, and I think he would have been pleased and possibly embarrassed with the kind words spoken on his behalf.

I would like to think that he was there listening and watching - and that as we raised a glass of wine in his honour, that he would look kindly on how we remembered him.

So to Harald - our best - and to all who read this I would ask that if it is within you to help his wife and son - then please do so, as I am sure that they will need both emotional and financial help in the immediate future.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


With apologies to my Irish Friends - this is not the kind of news I wish to start the week with - Could it be Latvians in Ireland coming home - or is this simply wishful thinking - published yesterday in Latvian News

Over 20,000 tickets booked for "Ryanair's" new Riga-Dublin flightsRIGA, Jan 9 (LETA) - Over 20,000 flight tickets have already been booked for the Irish low-fare airline "Ryanair's" new flights from Riga to Dublin, that were launched today, LETA was informed by the airline's deputy manager in the Nordic and Baltic regions Karl Hogstadius."Rynair" says the huge demand for flight tickets has exceeded the company's best hopes.

It has been estimated that over 110,000 passengers would use the new route this year.A new "Boeing 737-800" with 189 seats will perform the flights on a daily basis. Planes from Dublin will arrive in Riga at 4:35 p.m. and leave Riga for Dublin at 5 p.m., as informed Hogstadius."Ryanair" launched the operations in Riga on October 31, 2004, the airline presently operates flights from Riga to London and Liverpool, as well as to Tampere, Stockholm and Frankfurt.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Its over - nearly !

Well all around the world Christmas and New Year celebrations are over for another year - well almost !

Here in Riga we look forward to Christmas again this weekend, along with all of the others who share the Orthordox religion be they Greek or Russian.

The Gregorian Calendar is a revision of the Julian Calendar which was instituted in a papal bull by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. The reason for the calendar change was to correct for drift in the dates of signifigant religious observations (primarily Easter) and to prevent further drift in the dates

The first day of the Russian Christmas comes not from a Gregorian calendar but, from the Julian calendar thus coming 13 days after 25 December the date used by most of the world.

So there we are - Give a Pope a piece of paper ( a bit like giving a politician a map and a pencil - think Northern Ireland ) and he comes up with a new calander -and thereby changes everybody's birthday including that of J.C. - Miraculous !!

However the upside of all of this, is that the Christmas decorations in Riga stay up for an extra two weeks - but no extra holidays !!

One of the more unique features of Winters in Riga is how walking habbits changes. Normally we stride about, but come winter we move into the Riga shuffle mode. This involves not lifting your feet from the pavement but simply shuffling your way along. This technique limits the probability of falling over on the snowy / icy pavements - despite the best endeavours of the "sweeper uppers" who are out there every day clearing the snow from the pavements.

Another trait is that most Latvians will walk ieither on the roadside edge of the pavement or in the middle of the road - the reason ? - to avoid being hit by snow / icicles falling from the roof tops during a thawing out period.

Received a note from J.... (Australian - plays with wood) he tells me it is 40 degrees in Ausie Land, well hear in Riga the forecast is for -11 degrees over the weekend, but back to 0 degrees on Monday - weird weather.