Saturday, 8 October 2011

71 Latvia and the road to it.

After leaving McDonalds to headed south. We had no map, bar one that showed Estonia as being about 1.5" from north to south and showed about 10 roads in total, so we popped into a petrol station, filled up with deisel at about £1.20 a liter and bought a new map showing all the baltic states. This was much better and even had camp sites marked on it. Yippee...
On the way south we popped into a place called Parnu intending to chill out for a bit and maybe get some lunch and internet. The reality was something different and the wind on the beach
was so feirce that we could not even stay on it for more than a few minutes.
 There was a surf club on the beach that had internet but we could not connect for some reason so we abandoned it and drove South again.
Very pretty and virtually desrted.

But unbelieveably windy
We noticed on the shiny new map a nature reserve on the Latvian border and decided to visit it to see the local winged wildlife (as is our want !). Big mistake. there was nothing there despite out 50km detour from the beaten and I have to add, European Union funded, track.  Leon however thought the diversion was woth it and did some more exploring.
He is so goddam cute.

So we bailed out and set off along the dirt roads that are the norm in Estonia thinking we were like pioneers driving the gravel roads only to have our bravado tempered by this.
Bus stops - whaaat
A bus route!
Anyway, the next stop was the Latvian border and a chance to swap Euros for some Lats (Latvian currency).
No customs anymore. The post on the left is redundant.

We then trudged on into Latvia. A further 150km or so into the capital, Riga. We were looking for the campsite marked on the map and found this in its place:
This is not a campsite. It's a pikey site gone to wood.

We decided tis was not realy what we wanted and moved on and decided to spend a couple of days at a hotel which in Latvia was not expensive. We drove to the Best Western hotel and they were happy to accommodate Leon in the room. Having had little sleep the night the night before due to the wind, we crashed early.

Saturday 8th Oct.
A lazy start followed by a drive to near the centre of Riga and a public car park with a tricket system that we did not fully understand. The saving grace being that there was room for Gromit, being a 4X4 to squeeze past should the barrier give us any grief.
A slow trek across the main bridge into town revealed a beautifully preserved old town with lots ot churches and other government buildings. 

This morning Karen had woken with a huge zit on the end of her nose and we had also noted that there was a place in the old town called "Blackhead" so needless to say it was important to visit that. Karen says that I am nothing short of compassionate. To my dismay we did not find the place. 
The "Black Cat" house

Looks like toy town

Beutiful and oldy worldy

We wandered around the beautiful old town and eventually stopped in one of the squares for a bit of grub. The food was by western standards cheap and delicious. On top of that there was a 3 piece band playing and the guests were joining in with the songs. It was magical. 
This was a kind of vertical kebab with wine thrown in. Delicious.

The Japanese tourists were all over this. A chicken, a cat, a dog and a donkey !!

God I love this woman.

We found the usual Irish bar and sampled a drop of Wexford ale which I have to say was exquisite.
Another wander around town and on the way home we found a cellar bar in its true sense and had to partake in the atmosphere it exuded. 

Lots of drunk Brits in here. No surprises there then.
We then wandered back to the hotel to rest our weary feet and turned in for the night.

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