Published: July 8th 2012July 7th 2012
Breakfast at the weekend starts an hour later. The shops open at the same time breakfast starts. I only had 45 mins to go to the shops to buy a packed lunch, pack a rucksack and have breakfast. The breakfast lost! Three cups of coffee and some heavy black bread would have to suffice.
Set off for the station in the early morning heat and, on arrival, realised that I didn't know the Latvian for Ticket Office
! Having eventually bought a ticket, the nice lady in the office informed me that I needed to leave from Platform 3 - the only problem was that I didn't know the Latvian for Platform 3
! Well, the 3
was easy, but there were quite a few "Something" 3!
Finally, by walking towards the tracks, it became obvious where the trains were and so I managed to climb aboard in plenty of time. The trains are of a wider gauge that in the UK, with three seats each side of a central aisle, almost cavernous! As the departure time drew closer, the train filled to capacity with all those going to the beach at Majori - fortunately, I was going much farther ...
The third attempt to build a station - with trains direct to Moscow
to The Black Alder Swamp.
The train arrived in Kemeri, a health resort that had clearly seen better days. Indeed, the resort was so popular during the Soviet era that there were direct trains to Moscow!
Leaving the station, I walked past houses telling the faded story of the resorts grand past and eventually arrived at the Orthodox Church of St. Peter-Paul. With a service in progress, it wasn't possible to see the inside of this wooden building put together without nails.
Walking through Kemeri Park, the leaflet I was reading stated Recuperation and rest are unimaginable without the invigorating sensations of walks in the fresh air
. As I walked through the clouds of mosquitoes, I looked at the lake full of stagnant water and tried to imagine it as in the leaflet, with the Musical Bridge
and Bridge of Sighs
linking the Love Isle
with the footpath. I failed.
With clouds of Mosquitoes to accompany me, I walked past derelict buildings from the Soviet era, stopping to view the sad sight of the White Ship
. This was an impressive hotel hosting the rich and famous but was now standing out like polar bear at a
penguin only convention.
Finally, with my mosquito entourage, I arrived at Meža Māja. Here, I decided to see other forms of wildlife and set off to view The Black Alder Swamp. Sadly, through clouds of mosquitoes, all I saw over the dark water was a few toads and probably a nuthatch. Clearly the Mosquitoes were enjoying themselves, but then Meža Māja
apparently means Merry Mosquitoes
Lunch was in a mosquito free area, by Lake Slokas. Unfortunately, the lake was also bird free, duck free and almost other form of wildlife free. It was hot though, with the temperature in the low thirties.
Walking to Kudra through the trees meant that I could shorten my journey back to Riga and make a stop at Majori. This Blue Flag beach was however hosting a motorbike festival and so the party atmosphere was even more brash than expected. Only heavy rain and thunder managed to quell the party, the roads becoming gridlocked with revellers heading home early.
And thus, I too headed back to Riga (on the train) where I spent the evening partaking of a medieval banquet before coming up to date with the biggest name in Latvian
Jazz (whose name I don't know - despite being told it three times!)
There are more photos below