“Have you seen our Stag?” was the question that greeted us upon our arrival at our temporary residence, enquired by a man beset by anxiety after the loss the groom. A sign of things to come? After explaining the precipitating instances that led to his disappearance, we indicated that we had only just arrived but stated that if we indeed see a man garishly attired in a tutu, hued in various shades of pink manacled in handcuffs, addled by substance abuse and staggering through the humid Riga streets we would inform them of his location. The hotel itself was furnished with minimalistic articles to venerate, other than the appropriate deposited stag head looming ceremoniously beside the entrance. The attendant that greeted us at reception expressed her appreciation for our patronage with clear Latvian dialect that generated exotic hue of comfort to the generally banal connotations of the English language. It’s sad to lament that as a nation we are intolerant to linguistic advancement, but rather dedicated to the preservation of the English dialect. I guess it was just nice to hear the commonality of English softened by a more romanticized inflection. In any case she recited the generic regulations for the hotel with punctual brevity and we each absconded to our rooms to quickly survey our lodgings, leave behind our respective baggage and depart for exploratory reconnaissance.
Riga is very much a city of conflicting parity. Most of the city retains a soviet infarction, encompassing its buildings with abstract vibrancy and jutted frames, but also occasionally fraught with a prescient dilapidated contortion as though wilted by an unseen war. Yet even the jagged deformities of some infrastructures, hollowed by abeyance and etched in graffiti ebbed a dormant integrity. Of course we didn’t have much time to appraise our surroundings before we were whisked off to ascertain what actually lies at the bottom of the a pint of beer, or in my case a glass the size of a vase! We were guided round the city of Riga by a most generous hostess, graciously supplied by the hotel and despite our perpetual state of intoxication, our dubious approach to pedestrians and experiencing a public lavatory they could easily be a runner-up to “Trainspotting’s” depiction of the worst toilet in Scotland, we endured the maelstrom of exalted indulgence without incident. There was a notable forbearance from locals and staff alike to our jovial felicity, as our gregarious musings shifted from mutual inebriation to god awful karaoke. It could have caused a diplomatic incident and I sincerely apologise Latvia, I truly do. Of course being 6 manly men (grr!) we frequented a strip club. Yes the sordid perversion of the flesh, like a Dickensian brothel seeped in salacious vice, except it was actually a little more ornate. Well as far as strip clubs go anyway. Of course with all the exposed flesh and lady bits on display, I invariably utilised my time admiring the athleticism and dexterity of one talented ladies ability for levitation. “How does she get here legs all the way around like that?”
The night concluded at around 5 am, where most of us adjourned back to our respective rooms highly dehydrated, remiss in our understanding that we would be required to awake at midday to resume our lads weekend in the form of paint-balling. Now previous participation in this particular recreational activity usually resulted in pain and lacerations to my persons. Last time it was my neck. Turns out these results were not singular. I made a concerted effort to win at the start but the precision at which our team was decimated made it difficult to care. During one round I surged forward, anticipating their infiltration. My brief reconnaissance had assured me that behind the decrepit vehicle they were exposed, vulnerable to attack. I steadied myself, assertive, clinical, fixed them with a steely gaze and fired rapid penetrating shots…….straight into the branches of the nearby tree. Alerted to my presence they diminished behind alternate cover. I tilted my head, inclining gently trying to determine their precise retreat. Thum! Loose kindling peppered my view as some unidentified shot was fired. Squinting, eyes jostled by the remnants of prior paint splurges, with mist encroaching my view through my visor. Thum thum thum! Piercing through the hollow tree line, derived from some unknown perusers, one pellet collided with my left cheek (face), right cheek (not face) and one on the ridge of my spine. That one hurt. A lot!
This resounding failure later consorted with a mild stomach ache, likely from my lack of hydration and excess of food. As a result the succulent steak dinner I should have enjoyed at the hotel was largely spent concealing the moist steak in the crevices of a napkin, before supplanting the bovine carcass in the pocket of my jacket. Why? To prevent insulting our decorous hostess, but I also intended to devour it later *nom!*. After “dinner” there was a natural convalescence that your expected to validate at least once on a holiday to which I dutifully complied. Well before I witnessed the best man being verbally assaulted by an alcoholic stripper that demanded “4 euro!” for a drink. The proceeding day was a little less eventful as I went quad-biking for the first time and loved every second of it. Zigzagging through the tree line, leaving all of my compatriots in a haze of fragmented dust. But due to aviation commitments we couldn’t enjoy our final day to full excess and instead had to endure a 5 hour delay at the airport. But all the surreptitious anxiety that had become brazen fears shortly before my trip, exaggerated by various sights and google searches were fallacious. Hopefully our documented mirth resonates through out this article, minus a few embarrassing concessions, such as waking up and seeing a rather rotund friend wandering around in his underpants is a sight that no amount of alcohol can scorch from my memory! But fun, excess, hangovers, levity and more pizza consumption than a Ninja Turtle is what I’ll remember most fondly. Oh and by the way, do you like Karaoke? Well I know 3 friends that wont like me! Ha Ha Ha! “Whiskey in a jarrrrarrr!”