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Published: July 24th 2013
New Castle, Sigulda
Currently under renovation
On Monday we rented a car in Riga and headed east. I was enjoying the scenery when ahead of us on the far side of the road a blue ball of light blazed outwards. Thoughts of aliens and superheroes flashed through my mind in the seconds it took for Keith to mention that the top of a tree had splintered off and fallen across the power lines. Sure enough, as we neared the spot, having slowed considerably, there were leaves and bits of branch scattered across the road. I was surprised it hadn't started a fire.
We continued on to Segulda - an attractively laid-out town - and looked around the Livonian Order castle ruins and the New Sigulda Castle, which was more of a stately home, built by Prince Kropotkin in the early 20th century. From there we drove to the other bank of the Gauja River where the Turaida Museum is situated. Before entering the reserve we had lunch in a run-down-looking building with the word 'bistro' optimistically painted across it. We ordered some dubious-looking but surprisingly hot and tasty 'sorrel soup' whose only ingredients I could identify were potatoes, carrots and a bay leaf. Two bowls of
The building started in 1214 almost 800 years ago.
soup with two slices of brown bread and a bottle of sparkling water cost just under $4, so no complaints about the price.
After eating, we read some information about the 'bistro', which Keith had guessed was part of a communist vacation resort. It read as follows: After the second world war, fundamental changes in Latvian economy take place - private entrepreneurship is being exterminated, individual farmer households are being eliminated. Also, the eating traditions of families are affected by Sovietization with changes caused by lack of food in the shops, the small and narrow kitchens in standard flats and the Soviet propaganda of doing everything collectively and publicly
. Apparently if a Soviet restaurant or canteen wanted to offer a special meal, the meals first had to be presented in exhibitions or competitions and confirmed by the Gastronomy board of the Latvian Consumer Association. I wonder how often that happened?
The information went on to say how Sovietization freed women from household chores so they could work more creatively - a new way of thinking about communism for me!
After lunch we wandered round the remains of Turaida Castle, which had lots of info on the history
Granite sculptures depicting old folk lore.
of the area and people. We were heading to the sculpture park when the black clouds that had been gathering let go. Too bad, because the reserve had attractive pathways and nature trails that we could have wandered around all day in better weather. Instead, we made a quick round of the sculptures, dropped into a café for a pot of tea that cost $6 (more than our lunch) and drove on to Cesis for the night.
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