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Next weekend — Feb. 2-5Riga, Latvia: 68.70 pounds round tripFly Ryanair from London Stansted to Riga.The history- and culture-rich city of Riga sits at the mouth of the Daugava River. Start your exploration of the city at the Dome Square in the heart of the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. There you can explore the Ethnographic Open Air Museum that includes Latvian houses, farmsteads, windmills and churches representing different regions and time periods in Latvia.

Within the old town is the Dome Cathedral, which houses a valuable collection of artwork and an impressive organ. The cathedral often serves as a concert hall and is also home to the Riga History and Navigation Museum.

From there, head to Riga Castle, the residence of the president of the Republic of Latvia, and visit the the National History Museum inside. Also within the old town is St. Peter’s Cathedral, where you can take the elevator to the viewing platform around the church’s spire to experience a 360-degree view of Riga below.

Then, venture out into modern Riga and stop at the Riga Motor Museum, a paradise for auto enthusiasts. The museum displays Western as well as Soviet cars and motorcycles, including the cars of former Soviet leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Josef Stalin.

In the center of Riga is the Freedom Monument, a nearly 140-foot-tall statue inscribed “For the Fatherland and Freedom” that stands as a symbol of independence and freedom. An honor guard in front of the monument changes shifts every hour on the hour, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Next month — March 2-5Bydgoszcz, Poland: 61.97 pounds round tripFly Ryanair from London Stansted to Bydgoszcz.Begin your visit to Bydgoszcz at the 18th-century canal. Enjoy a leisurely stroll on the boulevard that runs alongside it.

Travel to the old town square in the heart of Bydgoszcz to admire the intriguing architecture, including the town hall, surrounding this old market square. Be sure to take a picture of the fountain called “Children Playing with Goose” in front of the Public Regional and City Library.

From there, head to the Gothic Cathedral of St. Martin and Nicolas to admire the late Gothic painting “Madonna with a Rose — The Holy Virgin of Beautiful Love” from the 16th century, located on the main altar. Now head west to Mill Island to visit the White Granary, a half-timbered building erected in 1780 that now houses the Regional Museum. Within the museum are exhibits of handcraft works, as well as information on the history of Bydgoszcz.

Music lovers’ next stop should be the Phonographic Museum housing an assortment of music players, from gramophones and radio receivers to more modern equipment, as well as a vinyl collection. Visit the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Pomeranian Philharmonic, which, according to the government-run Web site www.culture.pl, boasts two concert halls with excellent acoustics. Within the building, there is a collection of historical and antique pianos and grand pianos.

In the evening, head to one of Bydgoszcz’s many bars offering jazz, salsa, rock, pop and more.

Airfare prices include estimated taxes and are courtesy of the Web site www.skyscanner.net. Prices were verified as of Monday afternoon when Stars and Stripes UK went to press. Deals are not guaranteed to be available; restrictions may apply.


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