Latvia (August 2019)

 

The rain stopped as we drove over the border to Latvia. The first two days we stayed at a very nice camp ground next to the beach. We enjoyed the relaxed days there and…what a relief – no mosquitoes!! 🙂

the beach next to the rather cold sea (the water was approximately 16°C)

Of course we also made a stop in the capital Riga. We wandered through the city center for a day. The city has some nice buildings but to be honest we liked Tallinn more. For sure at some point you end up comparing and as Tallinn had set the bar very high Riga did not have it easy…

Riga Town Hall square

From Riga we headed to Gauja National Park. We felt like we needed some exercise again so we drove to Sigulda and rented some bikes to explore the area. It was a nice and quiet region with good bike routes away from the roads. The same evening we already continued further west and found another very nice spot for the night next to a lake. We were even able to pick some blue berries for our breakfast the next morning 🙂

one of our nicest overnight spots

While researching where to go we stumbled upon the Latvian “Hollywood” called Cinevilla so we decided to go there as it was very close. It turned out to be very interesting and we enjoyed that you could simply walk around the area alone.

We continued to the northern tip of Latvia and went to search for rotten boats on the so called boat cemetery. Out of the supposed eight boats we could only find one – but it was still an awkward scenery with a boat in the middle of a forest. These boats are here because the Soviets did not allow the Latvians to have fishing boats.

boat cemetery near Mazirbe

We decided that we wanted to visit Kuldiga next. We chose to take the shortest way south right through the middle. As this road lead through sparsely populated land most of it was gravel road. Luckily most parts were in very good condition.
Kuldiga itself was a very nice and shiny ancient town. Most buildings were in very good shape but sometimes we had the feeling to be back at Cinevilla (the movie set) 😀

Kuldiga – this is a real town, not a movie setup 😉

Our last stop was Liepaja. Maybe because we learned that many tourist come to Liepaja by ferry from Travemünde we somehow expected the city to be just a boring big grey harbor city. As it turned out we were wrong.  The city center was lively and there is a big park next to a very long beach. Also the tourist board made a great effort to guide tourists through the city on self guided paths.

In the north of the city center is a suburb called Karosta. In the 1960s the commercial harbor was closed and one third of the city became an enclosed Soviet naval base. At peak time there were over 20.000 people working at the military base and they were all living in Karosta (kara osta = war port).

Today, Karosta is still a poor district of Liepaja…

Naval Cathedral Church of Saint Nicholas

On the beach to the west we visited the blasted fortifications. In the beginning of the 20th century these massive concrete fortifications were built to protect the city and its population from German attacks. Only a short time afterwards the whole fortress was considered a strategic misstep and it was abandoned and partly blasted.

blasted fortifications, Liepaja

 

NOTES & ANECDOTES

100m after you cross the border from Estonia to Latvia the first shops you see are: GoAlco, SuperAlko, Alko1000, Alko Outlet

many new motorways are being built

somebody once told us that you have to drive faster than 50km/h on washboard roads and not drive slow! It requires some overcoming to accelerate your car to 50km/h on washboard roads but once you go that fast it really rattles much less. Not recommend on windy roads though…

Latvian car drivers are very friendly. Because we drive rather slow we get overtaken quite often. We usually indicate the traffic behind us if it is safe to overtake by indicating to the right. The Latvians always thanked us for that.

 

NUMBERS

we spent 10 days in Latvia

we wild camped every night

average diesel price was 1,21€ per liter

we drove 875 km in Latvia

we spent 13 Euro per person per day