GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
The Republic of Latvia is an unitary parliamentary constitutional republic, covering 64.589 square kilometres. It is home to 1.953.200 citizens, of which 73% are Christians.
The currency is Euro, worth 7,46 Danish Krone.
The climate is humid continental, where the coast are possess a more maritime climate.
Among the larger mammals are deer, wild boar, moose, lynx, bear, fox, beaver and wolves. The flora is not that different from the Danish, and I'm not looking for any particular species.
It is truly fare out in the countryside, and less than half is actually farmed. In the first village I meet, the church is undergoing a major renovation. Quite soon, I meet a gravel road, and the next 40 kilometres is a patchwork of real good and smooth gravel roads. Here are hardly any settlement, those that are, are small wooden houses.
The few huge fields are manages by the rare huge farms. Here are many small lakes, swamp areas with bushes and some forests. Storks are everywhere, and here, the chicks are following their parents on the fields.
The gravel road leads into Embute National Park, and on a hilltop, I spot a church ruin. Then there start to be a few more houses along the road, and I eventually get to the sealed road. Some barns and houses are now in granite, but the major part of buildings are still wooden buildings.
Just like in Lithuania, all the farming seems to be handled by huge companies. Caterpillar tractors, and the fields as huge as they can get. Here are some well fed cattle, and I even see a few goats.
I reach the old and charming town of Kuldiga around four. The black clouds are making a lot of noise, and I kind of rush through town. Plenty of old wooden houses along with some decorated plaster buildings. It seems like the tourists haven't found it yet, but here are some cafés and sculptures in the long pedestrian street.
I get to see the most, before it start to rain. I find a cafe, serving food, and get some real good looking dishes. Besides from the shredded cheese, there are fresh salad and white and pink Begonium flowers - a first for me. The potatoes pancakes are kind of rösti, accompanied by more fresh salad and a big yellow flower, tasting like orange/lemon.
I check a hotel in the middle of town, but find €35 to be a bit too steep. I have a campsite lined up 20 kilometres along the route anyway. But as I head out of town, several lights turn on, at the dashboard. APS, brake and general hazard. Along with the generator warning and airbag lights, it does seem a bit serious. Could it be, the car actually want some attention?
I had another hotel in town lined up, and it turns out to be right next to a mechanic. The lady seems to understand; I'm in the market for a cheep room, but then she show me a nice one for €45! When I tell her, I will sleep in the car at the mechanic, she remember the €20 room. I have to share bath with the empty room next door.
Just before I get to bed, I see the Danish Tax office expect to get a lot of money from me in AMB (yet another Danish tax). Apparently, someone have wrongly reported; I have a massive income. I can only contact them by phone, and I rather not pay to sit in line for hours. That, and the car problems are the right recipe for a sleepless night! The south and Old Kuldiga.
31/7. During my rather sleepless night, I figure the warnings from the car can be caused by the lack of brake fluids. I didn't check last night, due to the rain, but this morning, it turns out to be full. The garage only opens at nine, and the other one in town won't have time this week!
The other mechanic finally show up half pass nine. He think he know the problem, but can only look at it, in the late afternoon. I head back to book another night at the hotel, but they only have a €60 room free. Plan B is another stroll through town to find a bed, and while I'm at it, I can see Ventas Rumba: The widest waterfall in Europe. Next to it is a campsite, but do I have a car to sleep in?
I start the stroll along the big Ventas River, and
here are real unspoiled nature. Actually, I wished here was a trail! It is a
tall riverside, overgrown with all kind of wild flowers, stinging nettle
among the more numerous.
From here, there are a great view over Ventas Rumba. It is quite popular among bathers, but the nature still look real unspoiled. Well, the ducks begs, but here are clean and it is not worn-down. I head over to the other side, trying to get a picture which not face the sun.
Several pedestrian bridges crosses the minor canals (attempts to bypass the waterfall, all failed), and one have a pictogram, banning locks. I kind of understand it, when I see the next bridge, covered in chains and locks. On other bridges, it have looked romantic, here it look like trash. I find a camp, asking for €20, and have it as plan B.
I enjoy the view over the river, which is free of bathers on this side, while I sip a cup of tea. Then I wander up through the old town of Kuldiga, once again. I see some "new" houses and some of the others, which have the sun on the right side now.
The mansion is not impressive, but it have a nice garden, with a lot of quite good statues. I find some lunch, and a hairdresser, who will have time later. Back at the garage, the mechanic is replacing the generator, and he have discovered that the car is missing the air filter. Further more, it now sucks air in, from right over the road, right into the turbo. We agree; he will fix it as well.
Back in town to empty an ATM, and I get just in time to get the needed haircut. Back at the garage, the mechanic have given up finding the other half of the air-filter box, but he have bought a racing-filter - at least it filters off sparrows and alike. I give him my spoil from the ATM, crosses my fingers and head up north in a smooth running car.
It seems like he was right, only the usual lamps are on now. Either it was the lack of power, or it have been drying out, standing in the garage all day. Well, I might find out, as I am heading into the rain. It is a two hour drive through mainly farmland. I passes a single bigger town, dominated by hideous Soviet blocks. Then it is mainly forest, and here are hardly any houses. The rain is real heavy, like driving in a waterfall. No lights flashes on the dashboard, and I kind of feel safe and lucky.
I reach Slitere National Park, and now, it is all trees. Mainly pines, but mixed with birch and others. The sun returns, and it haven't been raining here. A parking lot near the Cape Kolka is as fare as I can drive, and I walk along the perfect beach to the cape.
are flowering heather, crocked pines and real nice. The beach seems to be
popular during the day, but it is almost empty by now. Here are real clean,
it is just the footprints that give away the daily activity.
The first have no heated water, "but the water is just as warm as the sea". Thanks! I have tried sticking a single toe into the bucket of ice! The next have solar heated: A black tank on the roof. However, I can buy a €3 electric heated shower between 9;00 and 21;00.
I start with a solar heated one, which is not that cold. Then a stroll along the rather stony beach before I start working. AMB-Tax have written me; their claim have been dropped - not why. I try the local restaurant - and all their three vegetarian courses. Ventas River with Rumba, Old Kuldiga 2, Slitere NP with Cape Kolka.
1/8. It is a fantastic summers day once again, and I have to do a small stroll along the lakeside. Then I head back to the main road, but just as I gain speed, and terrible sound emerges from under the car. I'm sure there were nothing on the road, and I fear, the new air filter have gone awol too. I walk back, and find the mechanic's big pliers. Thanks, but I could have done without!
It is then two hours drive through the usual nice farmland and forest on good roads. I stop at some spiders' nets with dew on, at the city-sign of Rude, at some lakes and rivers and at the building of an old mill; Valdgales Dzirnavas. Storks are gathering on the fields, and in one, 25 storks are joined by two cranes.
I reach the little town of Kandava, which might be real remote, but fare from as rural as I had expected. The ruin on the hilltop is barely a ruin of a ruin. The most interesting is the statue of a pig, made of granite, bronze and iron, at the foot of the hill.
I head for the river to see the old bridge. It is well restored, but nothing really special. To judge from the railing stones, it is real old, but it does not look that way. The Abava River, which it crosses, is beautiful and clear, but the area is way too swampy to be walked. Back in town, I do a loop around the little market. Nice flowers and Chinese shoos and clothing is all they have to day.
Then it is a hundred kilometres through more farmland and forests, and then I'm in the capital; Riga. I park at the old town, and meet the exercitation United Buddy Bears on the first square. Some are brilliant, some rather traditional and the Danish rather dull, made by Anne Elisabeth Řstergaard.
I do several loops around the old town, and it does have
a lot of old buildings and nice squares. However, without being able to tell
why, it does not really catch me. After two hours, I head on towards
the national park of Gauja.
Another hour through the nice summer landscape, and I reach the gravel roads. The national park of Gauja is quite undisturbed forest, but I fail to find something real interesting plants. I follow a path downwards to the river, and here the first bedrock in a long time, is found. The river have cut deep into the sandstone at Kuku Cliffs. I do a small tour along the river, but figures I might make it to next site today as well.
It is 135 kilometres away, in the southern Estonia. Further on by the gravel road, and then some bumpy sealed one to the border. I get a feeling of, I might have crossed it, and return by foot. The only markers are small black and white sticks, some distance into the fields. Kandava, Riga and Gauja NP.
Latvia is a beautiful country, with lots of wooden houses, pine trees and friendly people. Here are not that many "top-sights", but the mellow atmosphere is nice. I'm not sure I will return, but I have enjoyed the stay. I have driven 637 kilometres, taken 580 photos and spend only €95. I have used additionally €25 on diesel, but I didn't gas. And €200 on the repair of the car. From here, I head into Estonia.