The Baltics*


>September 2014

Friday, 5th – Whizz air – Luton to Vilnius 14.05 arr 18.45 (2hr 45m) Vilnius – Radisson BLU Hotel (3 nights) Sat 6th   - Exploration of the Old Town - Pilies Street, Cathedral, Palace of the Grand Dukes and Gediminas’ Tower of the Upper Castle. Lunch at ‘Sole & Pepper’ that only serves ‘breakfast’ until 4pm then dinner. Dinner at Restaurant Lokys, a hunters restaurant with dishes including wild boar, venison & beaver. The restaurant has 4 halls to choose from: the XVI century gothic cellars with narrow stairs and low arches, the steakhouse basement halls and two lighter halls on the ground floor with a touch of Soviet nostalgia. Sun 7th   - Morning walking tour of Vilnius -  the small church of St. Anna (a gem of Gothic architecture), the Presidential Offices, the University of Vilnius and then drive to a viewpoint, passing the church of Peter and Paul to end at the South Gate – the only remain one of nine. Afternoon tour to the medieval capital of Lithuania, Trakai which is located on Galves Lake (27 km from Vilnius). On this island in the middle of a beautiful lake there is a 14th century red brick castle which now houses the History Museum. Dinner at Zuvine, a fish & seafood restaurant situated inside the old Town Hall, offering a menu of predominantly locally caught fish. Mon 8th  - Depart to Riga. En route visit the Hill of Crosses – a famous hill with more than a thousand crosses. Lunch in Rundale. Visit the splendid restored 18th century Rundale Palace, the former summer residence of the Duke of Kurland. Riga – Europa Royale Hotel (3 nights) Tues 9th – Morning walking tour of Riga passing the Freedom Monument and National Opera House to reach the Old Town. Walked along cobbled streets to see colourful restored merchant’s residences, old town squares with numerous cafes and historical monuments such as the Dome Cathedral, St. Peter’s Church, the Powder Tower, the House of Blackheads and Riga St Jacobs Cathedral. Viewed the many architectural masterpieces of the early 20th century Art Nouveau period en route. In the afternoon, visited the market and Roman Orthadox church before going to the 27th floor of the Radisson Blu to see the view. Dinner at International SV (t's out of the town centre by just a 10 minute no 11 tram ride to Meness iela stop, outstide the restaurant.) Wed 10th  - Morning  tour to Sigulda, approx 50 km NE of Riga.  Sigulda is often called the ‘Latvian Switzerland’ – although beautiful scenery, I think there is no comparison. Visited the 13th century Knight’s Castle, the mysterious Gutmana Cave, linked to a romantic medieval love legend and the Turaida Fort. Afternoon –  St Peter’s Church – Went up the lift inside the spire to the viewing platform that provides a fantastic panoramic view over the red roofs of the Old Town and across the river Daugava. €7pp Took a boat trip on the canal and river around the Old Town. Dinner at International SV (so good that we returned) Thurs 11th  - Depart to Tallinn. En route, stop at the Ethnographical Open Air Museum on the outskirts of Riga, to see traditional Latvian rural buildings, the oldest ones dating from the 17th century. Stop at the summer resort of Parnu to walk on the beach and have lunch. Tallinn - Nordic Forum Hotel (3 nights) Fri 12th  - Morning walking tour of Tallinn’s exquisite medieval town, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Afternoon tour to Kadriorg Park and Palace, which was founded 1721 by the Russian Emperor Peter the Great, as a gift to his wife Catherine II to use as summer residence. Dinner – Rataskaevu 16 restaurant Sat 13th  – Walked around the harbour and Old Town, past the start/finish of the Marathon. Lunch at the Theatre 99. Afternoon walk around the area to the north of the railway station. Dinner - Balthasar restaurant Sun 14th Sept – Walked to the Kadrioru Park. Some roads were closed due to the Marathon. Lunch at Ribe. Easyjet – Tallin to Gatwick   17.40 arr 18.40 (3hr)


What an experience! We dined at some excellent restaurants with very high quality food presented on the plate in most creative ways. Lockys in Vilnius provided a menu of hunter dishes including wild boar, venison and beaver in an old cellar setting. Our food was perfectly cooked and well presented. An acorn tea was an interesting end to the dinner. In Riga, International SV provided gourmet food and drink at its best. A Riga Clavis cocktail, followed by gourmet food and good wine - so good that we booked a second night. (They say their courses are small so order plenty, but if you are experienced at gourmet food then don't as it is too much!). The cost was extrememly reasonable for such quality food. We loved it - worth a Michelin star! Ribe was our gourmet delight in Tallinn. Exceptionally well cooked and presented food - definately worth a Michelin star!