In Riga, we had the pleasure of staying in a lovely house dating from before World War I in the neighborhood of Mežaparks, located a mere ten-minute tram ride outside of Centrs. Our accommodations were arranged through David Schilter of Kuš!, whom I interviewed by email for Koshka #1. Most of the time when we travel, we tend to stay with friends or internet friends who become real-life friends, which always makes for a much more interesting and personalized experience. David set us up with Kristaps, Maija, and Edgars at Szcze House, and it was a great to get to know the real Latvia instead of being trapped at an overpriced Vecriga hotel or party hostel.
The house and the neighborhood are nothing short of amazing, particularly to an American like me who is not often in the vicinity of buildings that are SO OLD. Everything in Riga is somewhat falling apart due to age, and the unfortunate effect of austerity measures due to the global financial crisis. Most houses in Mežaparks have been remodeled into glorious homes for the wealthy, but Szcze House (named for the Polish-named street, Ščecinas iela, on which it resides) is a humble cottage that has been loved hard for many decades. Fascinating remnants abound within the house from both the Germanic eras of Riga as well as from when the house served as communal-style living during Soviet times.
Maija, Kristaps, and Edgars were lovely hosts, and often meals were made for all to enjoy, with lots of fresh produce and herbs from the garden. We also became fast friends with Skudra, the house cat (or house manager of Szcze House, depending on who you ask!). There was also a pleasant morning wake-up call from Hermanis the rooster, who presides over his harem of three hens in the garden.
Szcze House is open to having future guests, so if you are planning a stay in Riga and would like to meet and get to know some fantastic artists from the city and have a more lived-in experience, feel free to ‘like’ them on Facebook! Their rates are very reasonable for a room and you will make friends, share stories, and also share many great meals.
Szcze House on Facebook!