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Practical A to Z

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Practical A to Z


Eating out

The most popular restaurants sport a traditional, rustic decor, where young lasses in traditional costume serve large portions of local dishes or platters piled high with cooked meats, cheese and pickled vegetables, all of which washed down with mugs of beer.

Opening hours

Cafés: 8am to 11pm.

Restaurants: 12noon to 11pm.

Tips

It is customary to leave a 10% tip if you are satisfied with the service.


Electricity

Standard two-pin European plugs (220V, 50Hz), so slip an adaptor into your suitcase.


Embassies and consulates

British Embassy – 5 J. Alunana Street - 1010 Rīga - t 371 6777 4700 - http://ukinlatvia.fco.gov.uk/en/

Irish Embassy –Valdemara Centrs - 632 Kr. Valdemara iela 21 - 1010 Rīga - t 371 703 5286 - www.embassyofireland.lv


Getting around

By train

Faster, cheaper and often more frequent than coach services.

By coach

An efficient (if rather slow) and economical means of exploring the country.

Urban transport

Major towns are well equipped with bus, trolleybus and tramlines.


Health

Drinking water

Avoid any unpleasant surprises and drink bottled or filtered water.

Diseases

Rural areas and forests are infested with ticks from April to October and several people die of tick-borne encephalitis each year. Always wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers and check your skin regularly. This disease can be prevented by vaccination. Mosquitoes are omnipresent in summertime, particularly in the lake district.

Emergencies

T 112


Money

Currency

The currency of Latvia is the lats (LVL or Ls), plural lati, subdivided into 100 santīmi.

Banks / Exchange

Banks, open Monday to Thursday 9am-5pm and Friday 9am-4pm, are the best places to change foreign currency. Exchange offices (kiosks or basic counters) are also widely available. It is preferable to ask for small banknotes in good condition.

Traveller’s cheques

Traveller’s cheques can be difficult to exchange outside large towns.

Credit cards

Visa and MasterCard/Eurocard are compatible with most automatic teller machines, which are widely available in large towns, although less common in rural areas. Commissions can be high.

Budget

Latvia is not a cheap destination, but substantial differences exist between the capital and the countryside and depending on the time of year. Average budget: between €55 and 100 per day for a couple.


Post

Post offices are open Monday-Friday from 8am-7pm, Saturdays 8am-3pm. Allow between 3 and 4 days for letters to reach home.


Public holidays

1 January – New Year’s Day

Easter – Good Friday and Easter Monday

1 May – Labour Day

4 May – Independence Day

2nd Sunday of May – Mother’s Day

May / June – Whitsun

23 June – Līgo (Midsummer’s Eve)

24 June – Jāņi (Saint John’s Day – Midsummer’s Day)

18 November – Latvian National Day

25-26 December – Christmas and Boxing Day

31 December – New Year’s Eve


Shopping

Opening times

Shops are generally open Monday-Friday from 10am-6pm, Saturdays 10am-4pm.

VAT

Make sure that the price tag includes VAT.

Amber

Baltic gold can be bought in all the tourist shops.

Antiques and art

Most cities have a fair number of antique dealers selling silverware, furniture, icons and vintage paraphernalia and art galleries are also multiplying fast.

Arts and crafts

Ceramics and painted eggs, glassware (jewellery and stained glass), leather (luggage, antique bound books), earthenware sculpture and pottery, wooden objects, wickerwork, lace (by Orthodox Setus) and hand-knitted mittens, pullovers and socks.

Gourmet souvenirs

Black bread, jams and smoked fish are readily available. Also look out for Laima chocolate, cranberries coated in icing sugar, gingerbread, cheese and on the beverage side, balsam from Rīga.


Social etiquette

A handshake or nod of the head suffice as a greeting. If invited to someone’s home, take a small gift, such as a bunch of flowers (odd number of flowers only), even to men. Remove your shoes on entering private homes and wait until you are invited to sit down at the table. Avoid sensitive issues, such as relations with the Russian speaking community. Don’t whistle indoors.


Telephone

To call Latvia from abroad

Dial 00 + 371 (country code) + 6 + number of the person.

To call home from Latvia

Dial 00 + country code (UK 44 and Ireland 353) + number of the person (without the first 0).

National calls

Dial 6 + 7-digit number of the person.

Mobile phones

Mobile phone numbers have 7 digits and start with a 9 or 6.

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