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Europe » Latvia » Riga Region » Riga August 21st 2019

Today was a half travel day starting with a four hours bus journey across the Latvian border to Riga, the capital, and a two night stay at the Hotel Tia. Latvia is a tiny country in size & population while Riga is an amalgam of eastern and northern European influences from 800 years of turbulent occupation, the latest being the Soviets, which ended in 1991. After check-in we wandered around the Old Town with its grand cobblestoned boulevards lined with Art Nouveau facades among a skyline of Gothic spires. The main sights included the Riga Doma Cathedral, St Peter's Basilica, House of Blackheads, the Swedish Gate, Riga Castle, The Great Guild & Small Guild and the Cat House. A very full day with a group dinner at a folk music restaurant in wine cellar basement. Next ... read more
Riga Cathedral
The Small Guild facade
The Swedish Gate

Europe » Latvia July 19th 2019

19 July 2019 A busy but very memorable day. We started by driving 50k southwards along the coast to the village of Jurkalne where we found a remote and beautiful beach which unusually for the Baltic was backed by fairly high sandstone cliffs. Inland from Jurkalne is a small enclave peopled by the catholic Suiti people who speak a distinct Latvian dialect and have a unique traditional dress and method of singing. We stopped off at the main village in the area, Alsunga, and were impressed how much effort is being put into maintaining the local traditions. Then it was a 180k drive south west to Rundale Palace, an ostentatious building and gardens built for Baron Ernst Johann Biron. We had a guided tour round the inside, dinner in the restaurant and finally a walk around ... read more
Looking in the other direction. As ever in the Baltic, threes come right up to the edge of the cliff and some had toppled over.
Alsunga’s Livornian medieval castle
Its lake and church

Europe » Latvia July 18th 2019

18 July 2019 We had a group coach trip to Kuldiga, an inland town 60k south east of Ventspils. Kuldiga is on the River Venta and there is a 2.5 m high waterfall spanning the river’s 240m width. The locals claim that it is the widest in Europe.... read more
This timber framed building used to be a pharmacy
The waterfall
Kevin and Nurcan waded the river above the fall

Europe » Latvia July 17th 2019

17 June 2019 After a lazy morning, we cycled through the beach side park adjacent to the site, along Ventspils quay and into the old town.... read more
For some reason there are models of cows all over the place. This large one
A white one admiring its view
A mechanical one

Europe » Latvia July 16th 2019

16 July 2019 In wet but gradually improving weather, we drove about 200k of the Latvian coastal road to the port cum resort of Ventspils where we are staying for the next three nghts. The route took us via Cape Kolka which divides the Baltic Sea from the Gulf of Riga. It is a place with opposing tides and can have rough seas, but we didn’t see that. The exposed nature is amply shown by trunks of trees which were uprooted in a 2005 storm and tossed onto the sandy beach. There is an offshore lighthouse on an artificial island.... read more
And Wendy had to hold back these overhanging branches so we could make progress back to the main road. Good exercise for the shoulder!
A memorial at Cape Kolka for those who have lost their lives in the adjacent treacherous seas
The cape, the trees and the lighthouse

Europe » Latvia July 15th 2019

15 July 2015 There were a few things we wanted to do in Riga so we took the local train back into the city. We had a look around the Central market which is located in some old Zeplin hangers. In the Lutheran Cathedral we heard an amazing organ recital which seemed to make use of every one of its 6768 pipes. It was made more enjoyable because a video was played of the organist’s fingers flashing across the four keyboards whilst his feet operated the numerous pedals. Riga is situated by the wide River Daugava and a canal winds through the city from and back to the river. We took a pleasant boat trip along both.... read more
The huge cathedral
Gathering for the recital
The cathedral cloister

Europe » Latvia July 14th 2019

14 July 2019 A coach took us the 20k into Riga and we spent the day there. As well as having an old town with a maze of cobbled streets and a selection of churches and other interesting sights, Riga has a district called the Quiet Centre which is full of buildings built in the early 20th century with audacious highly carved frontages known as Art Nouveau. We had a guided walking tour around both of them. Our campsite is close to a long sandy beach and in the evening the group celebrated England winning the cricket world cup with a few beers in a beach bar.... read more
A typical Art Nouveau Building – note the Sphinxes at street level
An amazingly ornate example
A cheeky squirrel

Europe » Latvia July 13th 2019

13 July 2019 We left the island of Saaremaa, drove southwards along the mainland west coast,back into Latvia and then to a campsite close to the capital, Riga. A total of 360k.... read more
Just before sunset, the light turned the trunks of these beachside trees red

Europe » Latvia June 29th 2019

29 June 2019 As we left Trakai we visited The Hill of Angels, a growing collection of wooden sculptures in a scenic location donated by individuals throughout Lithuania which has been put together over the last ten years. Then we drove 250k north east and into our second Baltic State, Latvia. We stayed the night at the village of Aglona, home of a large Basilica. Hundreds of thousands of Catholic pilgrims descend on it on August 15 each year to celebrate Ascension Day. It has also been visited by Popes John Paul II and Francis. We had a guided tour of the Basilica in the late afternoon followed by supper of traditional local food in a nearby Bread Museum.... read more
Admiring them
The lakes around Trakai are also in the shape of an angel
Entrance to the Basilica

Europe » Latvia » Vidzeme Region » Valmiera June 16th 2019

Lähdettiin liikkeelle puolenpäivän aikaan. Valtatiellä oli tietyö. Siinä olisi ollut normaalisti ajorata kumpaankin suuntaan, mutta nyt toinen oli suljettu, ja toinen ajorata oli kaksisuuntainen, normaali maantie. Pidettiin kahvitauko Valmierassa. Sehän on Pohjois-Latvian suurin kaupunki, asukkaita tosin vain 23000. Rauhallinen pikkukaupunki. Sieltä jatkettiin Valkaan. Auto tankattiin vielä Latvian puolella. Lisäksi käytiin Super Alkossa. Ostin kahdeksan pulloa viiniä. Totesin kyllä että suurimittainen halvan viinan hamstraaminen ei kiinnosta minua. Viinit tuli ostettua vähän summan mutikassa, ja tuli ikävä Alkon asiantuntevaa palvelua. Olin ottanut selvää Tarton seudun uimapaikoista. Siksi pysähdyttiin vielä Elvassa, noin 20 kilometriä ennen Tarttoa, ja käytiin uimassa pienessä Verevin järvessä. Vesi oli mukavan lämmintä, ja uimarannalla riitti väk... read more
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