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My gay Riga: Kaspars Zalitis on Europe's rising gay destination

The 'EuroPride 2015 – Riga' organizer on life in the Latvian capital

My gay Riga: Kaspars Zalitis on Europe's rising gay destination

I’ve lived here since…
1999. I moved to Riga with my family. Riga is the most vibrant city in the Baltic countries. Even though I consider Riga my own home city, I often find many new things to love about it. It’s the great mix of history and fun that keeps me here.

I’ve stayed because…
It has so much to offer. Riga is often underrated! There are many great opportunities both for career and for personal life. Riga is undoubtedly the coolest and most hip city in Baltics.

My favorite queer bar has to be…
The best queer bar is Golden Bar. One of their slogans is ‘heterosexual-friendly’! It’s very nice and laid-back place where you can have a drink in a calm atmosphere, but hit the dance floor and have a wild party on weekends.

For culture, you can’t miss…
The Latvian National Opera. The building itself is stunning. We call it our white castle. Latvian has outstanding opera and ballet traditions. We have a population of only two million people but our opera stars – such as Elina Garanca, Marina Rebeka and Kristine Opolais – are globally known.

My favourite place to people-watch is…
on the trams in Riga. You can take a tram almost to every corner of the city. Take a seat and go to the final stop and back. You will see people of Riga in all shapes and sizes, different moods and different lives – pensioners and professionals, school children and hipsters, old and young, rich and poor.

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Here in Riga, we always look forward to…
summer. After long, dark and sometimes very cold winters ,we wait for the sun and long days of daylight. Our midsummer festival (Jānis day celebrations) is the most important celebration of the year, when we have the shortest night (only few hours of darkness, if any!). When it’s warm you can have fun in summer cafes and beer gardens, or go to the beach which is just 30 min away from city centre. Summer is the best time of the year to enjoy Riga. You will see more happy faces just because it is warm outside.

For date night, I head to…
Osiris, my favourite restaurant. It’s been open for over 20 years! Osiris has the cosiest athmostphere in Riga. It’s a place open for everyone and historically was the first place in Riga to embrace diversity. Everyone can feel at home. It’s super friendly.

For a day trip, I head to…
KuldÄ«ga. This is my favourite town in Latvia. It is a true pearl of Latvia with widest waterfall in Europe that you can easily walk over in the summer. Perfect when you want to relax in a true medieval atmosphere. It’s a city of almost 800 years of history. It’ll charm you a moment you arrive.

Riga’s best building is undoubtedly…
It is hard to point out just one building because the Art Nouveau in Riga is true eye-candy for everyone. If I must choose one favourite, it’s the House of Blackheads, with few friendly dragons guarding the house!

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The most romantic place in Riga is…
Bergs Bazars. Once you enter this beautiful area you are welcomed by calm and romantic atmosphere with a personal touch. It’s perfect for a glass of bubbly at Garage, followed by a nice movie in a small in cosy cinema K Suns.

I shop at…
Kanciema Open Market. It is an open-air market where you can find different treasures brought by farmers and small craft shops. Everything is organic and sometimes brought to you directly from the garden. Spring comes with our amazing birch sap. I also love Latvian fashion. For shoes I’ve treated myself to Latvian shoe maker ElÄ«na Dobele, shirts made by I’m Your Shirt, and jeans by One Wolf.

LGBTI people in Riga look forward to…
This year, it’s EuroPride 2015 – Riga! It’s going to be the first such event in the post-Soviet area, and takes place from June 15 to June 20, 2015. It is going to be historic! Latvia still has a long way to go and this event will be a benchmark to ensure that human rights in Latvia will win. Please dupport EuroPride 2015 – Riga by making a donation, because the event has virtually no funding from any businesses or corporations, locally or internationally. Therefore EuroPride 2015 has launched a crowd-funding project.

For more information about EuroPride 2015, visit the official Facebook page by clicking here.


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