Great Continental Railway Journeys

Riga to Tampere

Series 5 - Episode 5 Riga to Tampere



What is it about Portillo's Pleasant Pilgrimages that keeps us tuning in? Our love affair with locomotives? The in-depth look at the lives of our European neighbours? The voyeuristic compulsion of watching a former Tory cabinet minister pitch into a medieval re-enactment? For me, it's the thrill of finding out what inventive blazer-chino colour combos our buoyant guide has opted for each time. Cerulean! Violet! Salmon! Mint! Burnt orange! Lemon!

Portillo's jolly good company, as always, as his sojourn takes him to the Baltics. Trusty Bradshaw's tome in tow, he's travelling from Latvia through Estonia to Finland. There are the obligatory history lessons, local fish suppers and idyllic lakeside panoramas, but the real jewels in the crown are the two - yes, two - glimpses of Portillo in his swimming trunks, as he takes a dip in the sea in Tallinn, and plunges into a Finnish jacuzzi. Swoon.


Michael Portillo braves the freezing temperatures of the Baltic Sea and finds peace paddling a canoe on the Lakes of Finland. On his journey from the Latvian capital Riga to Tampere in Finland, he encounters medieval knights in Tallinn, grills sausages in Helsinki and samples cloudberry liqueur in a hot tub. He later arrives in Estonia, where in the setting of a ruined 13th-century cathedral he learns how the Baltic countries demonstrated their desire for independence from the Soviet Union with a `singing revolution'.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Michael Portillo
Executive Producer John Comerford
Series Producer Alison Kreps