We made a three week vacation to the Baltics and Russia in June 2018. We spent around a week at the touring the Baltic states which is not usually on most people travel itineraries.
We arrived from Stockholm to Riga via a overnight cruise. Riga was the captial of Latvia. Unlike the major European Capitals like Paris and Rome, it is a pretty small city. There is not big and fancy buildings but it was charming and relaxing with no crowds. It was mid summer with lots of flowers.
Next, we hired a private tour from E.A.T. Riga tours and our tour guide Eva was excellent. She is friendly and easy going and really looks like she enjoys her job. She brought us to Jurmala which is a small seaside town. You can see her in the background in the pic below. Latvia does not have stunning landscapes or impressive architecture but it is still interesting to talk to the people there and learn about their country. It seems that a lot of their young people are moving out of their country in search for better jobs overseas.
Below is a small church somewhere in Riga and you can see some similarities with Russian Churches. The Baltic states used to be part of USSR for over 40 years.
The below two shots are taken from Rundale Palace in Latvia. It is pretty small but the best thing is that it is pretty deserted. Traveling in the Baltics is refreshing in the sense that there is literally very few tourists and almost no Asians. Unlike of the major European cities whereby chinese tourist have a bad reputation, the people in the Baltics really want to attract more tourists and are very helpful and friendly.
We then rented a car and drove to Lithuania, passing by the iconic Hill of Crosses. There are many many crosses scattered over in a hill… not really sure the history behind it but it makes for a pretty good photo.
Next stop is Vilnius which is the capital of Lithuania. The city is pretty small too and below is the city center. They have hot air balloon rides but we did not try them. It is interesting seeing the colorful ballons fly by though.
The final Baltic state we visited was Estonia. Tallinn is the capitol of Estonia and is pretty big compared to the other two capitols. Maybe it is right across Helsinki so it feels more developed and busier.