What a wonderful world

Lilies-of-the-valley, May-bugs, and Sandy Beaches

Latvia and the Gauja National Park.

Latvia was the last Baltic State left for us to discover. We had already visited Estonia, from Finland and, two years ago, it was Lithuania. Now it was Latvia’s turn.

For the first few nights, we had booked a room in the Tiger hotel in Riga. It was a comfortable and friendly place to stay, but it is also a place where Russian visitors to the town like to stay. Our son  has only been in Germany for a year, so we hoped that hearing his own language the whole time would not cause problems. And he managed extremely well.

Das Katzenhaus in Riga                                                    Jugendstil in Riga

We spent our first day looking at the ‘Art Nouveau’ style buildings in Riga. On the second day, we looked for traces of the Middle Ages (or what is left of these) in the old part of the town. Compared with its Baltic competitors, Riga is a strangely inhomogeneous town. Sometimes a row of houses is like a wild ride through the centuries and styles of building. To make up for what had been a very strenuous day for a child, we went for a very long trip in a paddle-boat in the evening – probably the owner had already started to think that we would not bring the boat back. The next morning, we dealt with the formalities for the boat which we were renting for our trip. The afternoon was spent in the Riga Garden City Metsapils.

Gartenstadt                                            Metsapils

After these few days in the town, we wanted to get out into the countryside. We took the train from Riga to Valmiera. On arriving there, we liked the camping ground so much that we decided spontaneously to stay there for a day, and to wait until the following day before pushing off in the boat. Before our evening meal, there was a surprise of the unpleasant kind. Although Reinhold had checked our spirit-stove at home, it simply refused to work. It was a stroke of luck that Serjoscha had insisted on having a large camp-fire – which now had to be used to cook our meal.
Am Lagerfeuer                                        Am Lagerfeuer

Before leaving, we had to get a replacement for the cooker then, at last, we could get on our way. The canoe-owner put the boat in the water just past a couple of artificial rapids. Going leisurely downstream, we soon left the built-up area and were in the Gauja National Park. White sandstone cliffs alternated with flat river banks.

Maikäfer                                    Kind in der Gauja

The river flowed so slowly that we had to work – paddling. We couldn’t find the recommended camping-place – where we thought it would be there was a ‘No Camping’ notice. Our first overnight stopping place was already occupied by a group of people, who had a good supply of alcohol in their boats – and there were swarms of gnats In spite of this, our youngster really enjoyed the sandy beach. That evening, we showed him Maybugs, and the next day he decided to be the ‘Maybug doctor’. We used the paddles to rescue them from the surface of the water. Serjoscha let them crawl on a stick until their wings were dry and they flew away. A fine and quiet day, spent paddling on the water. We got as far as Cesis, and at last we could buy sun-cream and ice. The next day was also spent on the river, with breaks on sandy beaches, passing steep banks and Maybugs in the water. This time, we stopped overnight in Ligatne – Reinhold was not feeling too well. Just before our evening meal, he started to feel worse and worse. He must have picked up an infection from the water. The water quality does not seem to be as good as ….. .

Auf der Gauja                                Im Boot

The next day, the weather was worse – and Reinhold’s condition was no better, so we decided to take a look at Ligatne. However, if one does not include the bus journey there, that took only quarter of an hour but, in the forest behind Ligatne, we saw some interesting things. As Reinhold’s condition was no better by the third day, we decided to see a doctor. After a visit to the hospital, his condition improved. That evening, we had a big meal – typical for the country – in the best hotel on the square. The weather refused to improve, so we took the bus back to Riga. The highlight of our last day was a trip to Jurmala – a pity we didn’t have more time for this. But we will return some time.

  Jurmala                                Im Sand




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© Annette Baur und Reinhold Strecker , January 2010