Though first time European visitors may not place former Soviet Baltic countries high on their list of desired destinations, there is plenty to do and learn here. The city of Riga (founded in 1201 AD) carries more than its own share of history and charm. It’s also super cheap, visually stunning, and the throngs of tourists you will run into in London, Paris, or Amsterdam don’t exist here. Yet, anyway. So don’t discount it completely. I was pleasantly surprised by all the city had to offer.
Also, if you like churches and cathedrals, there are roughly 7,000 to check out here. Personally, I’m a bit burned out on stained glass windows and slightly creepy statues of Jesus, but do what floats your boat.
As it appears Spring has finally arrived in Northern Europe, we were very excited about getting out with friends this past weekend. We chose Metz, France as our destination, as it is less than an hour by train. This modern day capital of the Lorraine region has a history going back at least 3000 years; prior to the dominance of the Roman Empire, it was home to a Celtic tribe called the Mediomatrici–the word from which the modern day place name “Metz” evolved. It is a modern city whose metro population is over 200,000, but whose ancient fortress-city charm still remains. Gorgeous architecture completely envelops you here, and–with skies being a clear blue and temperatures in the 60’s–it was a great way to kick off the start of a much anticipated and overdue Spring.