A few days in the country - real Latvia!

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July 23rd 2007
Published: July 23rd 2007
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Hello bloggers... well we are now in Cesis (pronounced Cheses) - a small medieval town (what else?) in the country side about 1.5 hours from Riga, the capital of Latvia. Since our last update we had a couple of days in the university town of Tartu in Estonia - just what hte guidbook said .. a leafy treelined town with history although we didn't really get the mystical ambiance they talked about... From there we hit Riga and were rather dissapointed. The UNESCO preserved town square appears to apply to only one building - the rest were either ugly Soviet monstrosities or modelrn glass towers.... most of the old town had newer buildings spread in amongst the old ones (not like Tallin whch was really special and old worldy). So we didn't stay long (apart form the fact that our hostel was not so good to say the least... loud, rather grotty and expensive). We took the bus to the country... jumped off in Sigulda first as we had read it was a beutiful; region with a river running through a deep gorge scattered with mediaeval turret (sounded winderful)... NOT! A modern heardless town with one dingy, delapidated castle on the side of a grubby river. Cesis, however, has proven to be wonderful with a much better castle (as far as castles go) and a lovely old town complete with medieval streets. We take the bus to Riga and then on to Vilnus (captal of Lithuania) tomorrow.

In response to some queries from people reading the blog we thought we would fill in a few more details for you...

Brian felt really at home at the ballet, what with his out-turned feet which were an immediate hit with ballet goers and has now decided to be called "Bolshoi Brian"(He also tells me he enjoyed watching the men's phyique - bit worried! J).

Peter the Great was an interesteing fellow, apparently 6 foot 7 inches (if we understand the Russian who was telling the story) and a first class leader of his troops who did first what he expected them to do - lacking in today's leaders.

The pace of life in modern Russia is fast, it is all happening - particularly with the young people and their desire for glamour and glitz (and Sushi!). So different from Brian's last trip in the 1970's.

Jacqui was most taken with Catherine the Great who we saw at the Kremlin in Moscow, who was apparently a renound nymphomaniac and had her choice of any man she wanted, even though all the doors in the palace had to be widened so she could fit through it (it was her dress actually.. J).

For those interested in the countryside.. the fields have yellow rapeseed and green headed wheat and barley and considerable forest (about 70% in Estonia and Latvia). We havent' seen any animals yet.. a few birds (the feathered type that is).

Brian has decided he loves Jacqui's form of backpacking - particularly the many snacks, deserts and drinks and is even enjoying each country's local beers (photos attached) - not as bitter as Australia's. Not the grimy starvation he was expecting!

The cost of living for us is about the same as in Australia - in fact, cutting back on a few drums of chemical / herbicide will pay for the trip!

Finally - the train and bus system is excellent - clean, on time, non-smoking and efficient. Most people speak some english so we have got along well.

Will update in another week or so.

Jacqui and Brian

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