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Report - Z Towers, Riga - Latvia - November 2014

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by Adders, Nov 18, 2014.

  1. Adders

    Adders living in a cold world
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    Most of you are probably going to hate this. Much of the below isn't seemingly relative to the building in mention, but I wanted to add some perspective and history to what took me there, and what I thought.

    It's been an interesting year so far. Overall a good one, but some bad shit has reared it's head up along the way. A few of my close friends have also packed up shop and moved state-side for the foreseeable future, and I've been left to wander through sewers and drink cans in odd places with an illicit band of brothers. Working on trying to figure out what it is I'm doing.

    I'm still none the wiser with my "grand plan", but what I do know is that I don't really like sitting around thinking about it. So when I found myself with a surprise 3-day weekend I looked to the internet for somewhere to hide away for a couple days.

    [​IMG]

    Riga is a fairly sorry city. The country has been occupied over the years by pretty much every land grabbing state around. The Russians a couple of times, Germans, Swedish, and now the British tourist. Old Town is full of TGI Fridays, Costa, Irish Pubs and burger bars. Groups of northerners walk around chasing tail and necking shots, seemingly blind to the city surrounding them. They may as well be in fucking Hartlepool.

    [​IMG]

    I was on a different journey, sure I had a bag full of cans, but I wanted to see the city up close and personal.

    [​IMG]

    I've always loved walking the streets in random cities, but I can't really remember when or why I first did it. I became addicted to cheap ryanair deals about a decade ago, and hooked on skipping university to take advantage of them. It could stem from growing up in the countryside. My exposure to the big city was limited, so now venturing around large urban landscapes fascinates me, and although I find the majority of them fairly sterile in comparison to each other I still find them intriguing.

    [​IMG]

    But then when education ends and reality starts, your spare time slips away and real life responsibilities take priority. The odd overseas trips I've been on more recently have ended up being pretty tame, and haven't resulted in me clambering around drunk on the roof of a 400 year old church in the centre of Old Town.

    [​IMG]

    But solo travelling is always nice, you don't have to accommodate anyone else's plans, it's infinitely easier to organise and book, and you can do whatever you want without fear of irritating the others in your group. If I want to spend an hour sat watching the world go by, I can. If I want to grab a sandwich instead of going to a restaurant, I can. It gives you utter freedom to go out and enjoy the time exactly as you want to.

    [​IMG]

    I searched online for any construction sites going up and stumbled across Z Towers. A 133m & 121m tall pair of towers that will eventually be used for office and accommodation purposes. My Latvian isn't great but I get the impression that it's hit some delays over the years, and is pretty behind schedule.

    [​IMG]

    Latvian security leaves a fair amount to be desired. The rickety herras fence that encircles the site has a laughable amount of access points, and getting in and up to the core was problem-free.

    Then all that stood in the way of me and the roof was a lovely 33 flights of stairs. Which after a few beers proved pretty tiring, and I was happy to get to the top and chill out.

    [​IMG]

    The final set of haki stairs took me onto the taller roof, where the wind was blowing a gale and standing near the edge felt pretty precarious. I sat down and admired the view over another can before setting about taking some photos.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It was a nice view, and was interesting to be somewhere high outside of London, but the skyline in Riga is fairly non-existent. A few tall churches, a TV tower and the Swedbank HQ are the main dominators, and they're fairly spread out. The local government have implemented building regulations preventing any new high rise buildings from going up in the Old Town area, which is a nice touch. It's also classed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

    [​IMG]

    It was an experience to be up there, but the location itself was a little uninspiring. I shot some video, snapped some shots and retreated down to the sheltered levels to have a poke about. This didn't last long either and I started heading down and out in search of something else to do.

    [​IMG]

    Building sites themselves are fairly bland places. I don't know if it was the ease of getting in that took the edge off being there, or I'm just not into high stuff as much as I thought I was.

    [​IMG]

    Riga had a pretty tough time during WW2. The Soviets came along first, but was soon taken by the German forces who did they usual tricks and reduced the population by a lot. The Red Army came back at the end of the war and once more Latvia was part of the USSR, with closed borders, restricted freedoms and general communist politics. Upon the collapse of the USSR in 1991 the country was independent for only the second time ever, and once the borders were opened, the people left for prosperity in other parts of Europe. Estimates report that by 2050 the population could drop by up to 50%.

    [​IMG]

    Occupying nations only really wanted the country for its strategic location, it has a big port, and is seen by some as a gateway to Russia. However Moscow never deemed Riga worthy of a metro system, and almost predicted the population fall. Instead offering the money to projects elsewhere in the USSR.

    [​IMG]

    The Z Towers themselves have had a bit of an identity crisis. Construction started in 2006 slightly before the economic downturn halted progress for a while. They were originally designed to house an upscale hotel along with office space, but an EU initiative towards housing projects made the developers change their plans to "exclusive city living" in 2013. Probably realising that the pissed up British tourists didn't much care for a swanky hotel.

    [​IMG]

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    Here's a short and unprofessionally put together collage of some GoPro and DSLR clips from the trip.

    [video=vimeo;112151963]https://vimeo.com/112151963[/video]

    [​IMG]

    Heading back into Old Town Riga I was on a mission to find something else to do, and headed towards some scaffold I'd seen earlier in the day next to the Dome Cathedral. Annoyingly there was another building in the way of a straight view to the big square, but gave me a nice perspective of the streets around it.

    [​IMG]

    I again sat on the roof and admired the view around, although by this point the local shops had stopped selling cans, with the only source of liquid nourishment being in the form of Irish bars and clubs. Neither of which I particularly wanted to visit.

    [​IMG]

    However upon descending back down the scaffold I must've got spotted out of the window by someone in a lower floor. As I was about to drop down and make my exit the side door swung open and there was an irate looking guy on the phone searching about the floor of scaffold below me. I spotted an opportunity as he reopened the door to shout to someone inside to make good my escape, and gave it legs down the street and away.

    [​IMG]

    I decided to wait it out a little before I tried my luck at the next location. So actually found myself in a faux Irish bar drinking the local juice. Proper cheap headache-inducingly strong pints for 3 euros. Nasty shit.

    [​IMG]

    I headed across the city and wanted to try my luck at the Dzelzceļa tilts railway bridge over the Daugava river. It's a lovely arched metal type that was lit up blue at night, but as soon as I'd made my way up to the tracks I got collared by an old guy sat in a dark hut. It was almost like he was waiting for me, but I scared the absolute crap out of him so he wasn't best impressed. Thankfully he just pointed back to the fence and signalled me to jump back over it, muttering some Latvian I probably didn't want to understand.

    My final few hours in the city the next day took me to an obscure Russian flea market out to the East of the city. Which is a good place to head if you're ever after a 90's car radio, cyrillic literature or a German Luger amongst other military memorabilia, there's your fix.

    [​IMG]

    I fully intended on paying to visiting the Railway History Museum I'd spotted from my transfer into the city, although it turns out to be closed on a Sunday. Thankfully Latvian security reigns supreme and the unlocked gate gave me access to a ton of incredibly preserved Soviet trains and carriages.

    [​IMG]

    All in all it was a fun trip. Go travel.

    And sorry for boring anyone.​
     

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  2. professor frink

    professor frink Pro Snorer Skiff
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    Wot no drains?
     
  3. fb

    fb big in japan
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  4. Bugsuperstar

    Bugsuperstar Irresponsible & Reckless
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    Excellent mate. Looks like you really enjoyed yourself.
     
  5. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    Well i enjoyed that mate :) :thumb
     
  6. GAJ

    GAJ Mr Muscle
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    Top notch dude! Love the write up & your pics are ace as always :thumb
     
  7. The Kwan

    The Kwan funksoul Brother
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    Top photos man, it may be a sorry city but it looks beautiful from above :thumb
     
  8. captainweird

    captainweird 28DL Full Member
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    Nice write up, love the fisheye.


    Phil
     
  9. Gabe

    Gabe 28DL Regular User
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    Went to Riga in 2006 so i know what you mean about british tourists invading, even back in 2006 there was too many of us out there, cant imagine what its like now.

    Really nice writeup and cool pics mate. Did you not take any film with you?
     
  10. Adders

    Adders living in a cold world
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    Nah I was trying to pack reasonably light so just had the D7000 and GoPro.
     
  11. Gone

    Gone
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    love it all, props.
     
  12. 1nk4

    1nk4 28DL Regular User
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    oh how i miss Riga.... i bet its changed over the past 10 years though! pics are great by the way, brought back some lovely memories
     
  13. knighthawk

    knighthawk 28DL Full Member
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    Lovely job :D:thumb
     
  14. Keitei

    Keitei Tomb Raider
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    Nice one :thumb Awesome shots and a great read.
    ~ Much better than my fail in the summer :p
     
  15. The_Raw

    The_Raw 28DL Regular User
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    Really enjoyable report with a nice personal touch and some inspiring thoughts to take away, I'll have some more of these please :D
     
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