The Irish Embassy in Riga has provided the following information for supporters travelling to Latvia for the UEFA Cup tie with Olimps on Thursday, 17 July 2008:
The primary responsibility for ensuring a safe journey abroad rests with the citizen her/himself. Exercising common sense, taking sensible precautions and behaving respectfully to locals should ensure that your trip to Latvia is happy and safe. Tourist information is available at www.rigatourism.lv and www.rigaoutthere.com
JFK Olimps v St Patrick's Athletic
The game will take place in Skonto Halle, Rīga at 6pm on Thursday 17th July. Skonto is approximately a 30-minute walk from the Old City and a 10-minute walk from the Albert Hotel (straight up Antonijas iela). According to JFK Olimps, it will be possible to purchase tickets at the ground. The police in Rīga will have additional security at the game.
The Latvian currency is the Lat. 100 lats equals €142.29. Euros are not accepted in bars, restaurants or shops. ATMs are widespread. In Rīga you can expect to pay anywhere from Ls1.80 to Ls4.00 for a beer – depending on how trendy the bar is. It is common to leave a 10% tip for good service.
Transport from the airport
The 22A bus connects Rīga airport with the city centre. The bus leaves the airport every 30 minutes and costs 40 santimi (€0.57) to get to the city centre. You will be charged another 40 santimi for a large bag. The last stop is Kathedrāle (the Orthodox Cathedral on Brīvības iela near the Reval Hotel). From here the Old City is a 5-minute walk – just head back towards the Freedom Monument. Bus 22 follows a different route and terminates behind the train station. Journey time is approximately 30 minutes.
Ask the price before you get into a taxi. Generally the cost to bring one person from the airport to the city centre is no more than 8 lats. Prices should be written on the taxi which should run on a metre system. Journey time is approximately 20 minutes. The Reval Hotel Latvija also operates a shuttle bus into the city centre, costing Ls 3 each way per person.
Users of the Vodafone network should be able to receive texts while in Latvia. However, unless they switch to a Latvian provider they will be unable to make calls or send texts. The other networks seem to function as normal but it is always best to check with your mobile phone operator before you leave Ireland.
You should make a photocopy of your passport before leaving Ireland and carry this, instead of your actual passport, during your stay. Your passport should be kept in the hotel safe. For information on lost passports please see below.
The Embassy strongly recommends that comprehensive travel insurance, including medical insurance, is obtained before travelling to Latvia. Travellers should note that the Embassy does not provide funds for emergency treatment or repatriation. You should also obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), free of charge, which entitles you to emergency medical treatment. This card is not a substitute for travel insurance. The EHIC replaces the Form E111, which is no longer valid. Further information is available from www.ehic.ie
Embassy out-of-hours emergency assistance
The Embassy operates an out-of-hours emergency service. The emergency number (for urgent cases involving genuine distress only) is available by ringing the main line at +371 6703 9370. Please read the tips below as they may help you avoid being in an emergency situation.
Public order offences
Be advised that the policing of public order offences in Latvia is particularly robust. Recently British and Irish tourists found guilty of petty hooliganism have spent 2 weeks in prison and paid hefty fines before they were permitted to leave Latvia. Behave sensibly and you should not encounter any problems. Monuments, such as Rīga's Freedom Monument, are important symbols in Latvia and should be treated with respect. Urinating in public, drinking on the street and possessing or purchasing drugs are all offences which carry heavy penalties and/or imprisonment.
If you are arrested, the Embassy is not entitled to visit you during the first 48 hours of detention. However, you are entitled to ask the police to inform the Embassy of your arrest straight away. You are also entitled to appoint a solicitor. A list of English-speaking solicitors, and emergency numbers, is available below. The Embassy cannot pay for legal advice or interpreting.
There have been reports by tourists of clubs on Rīga's Kalķu iela charging extortionate prices to tourists and threatening violence when the bill is disputed. Always ask the price before ordering drinks and if the prices seem extortionate go elsewhere. Pay for each round as it's ordered. Never let your credit card out of your sight and be extremely vigilant if you are asked to re-enter your PIN number. Exercise good judgement and you should avoid problems.
If you lose your passport during your stay in Latvia the Embassy can arrange for a temporary travel document which will allow you to return to Ireland. To do so we will need the following:
• A report from the police stating that you have reported that your passport was lost or stolen. In Rīga the main police station is located at Matīsa iela 9 (between Brīvības and Tērbatas ielas, 6708 6200). If the policeman does not speak English, and if you are not accompanied by a Latvian speaker, he will have to get an interpreter before he can issue a statement of loss. The procedure can take a number of hours so visit the police station at the earliest possible opportunity.
• 2 passport photographs – available from photographic shops and, outside of normal hours, at a kiosk in Rīga's international bus station (Prāgas iela 1, near the Central Market). Access is available 24 hours through the side entrance.
• A fee of 4.50 lats for an emergency travel document.
• Another form of identification – for instance a driving licence, student card or the copy of the personal details page of your passport.
• Once you have the statement of loss ring the Embassy on +371 6703 9370 to arrange an appointment. The Embassy hours are 9.15-5.15 Monday to Friday. An out-of-hours emergency number is available by ringing the main line.
Best wishes to all at St Pat's from the Embassy of Ireland in Rīga.
Emergency numbers in Latvia
Rīga Police Station number 1, Matīsa iela 9. +371 6708 6200
Rīga number 1 hospital, Bruņinieku iela 5. +371 6727 0136
Embassy of Ireland, Alberta iela 13. +371 6703 9370 (a mobile number is provided out-of-hours)
Tourist Hotline + 371 2203 3000 (to report visitor complaints/problems)
A list of English-speaking solicitors in Rīga is available on request from the club office.
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