Jelgava is a Latvian city about an hour from Riga. The nice place to hangout in Jelgava is an island named Pasta salā. No, this has nothing to do with Italy since pasta means postal in Latvian. The Postal Island is the site for their annual sand sculptures in summer and ice sculptures in winter. We haven't been in winter yet but we'll do that this winter. There's a sculpture garden, restaurant, and a cafe with great treats to sit by the river.
Saturday, July 11, 2020
Tērvetes dabas parks is a nature park but there's some really cool stuff in it which fully justifies the drive there and small price of admission. It's almost like some sort of natural theme park.
There are zip lines and climbing areas which seem to be popular across Latvia. There's also a tall observation tower which is another thing they like to build here in various places. The park has large paths which are easy for all ages and strollers. There's smaller more natural paths winding between the main roads to get a little closer to nature and see less people. Those can be challenging for strollers but some people were doing that too with their families.
The really unique thing about this park are all of the carvings and little buildings on the trails and in the various Gnome or Dwarf villages. We didn't even get to the other side of the park for the Fairytale Forest so we'll have to go back someday.
I love castles! This is a really cool reconstruction of a 12th century wooden castle. It's a unique experience to wander around inside what they believed to be the fortification style of the Semigallians with some artifacts and some recreations in the museum. They were the Viking Age people of the region before the Kingdom of Livonia. There's a long rich history of Latvia to explore. This timeline link covers prehistory to modern Latvia.
This is across a street from the park where the original castle stood on a hill. We also hiked over there through the nice park so the rest of the pictures are of that area.
Sunday, June 28, 2020
The final day of our road trip along the Latvian coast was to a city in Lithuania. Klaipėda is another coastal port city not too far over the southern border of Latvia. It looked like there were a lot of things to do around here, but this was another quick day and one night's stay before heading home. A whirlwind tour lets us cover lots of ground but misses some details. We choose to savour what we experience and follow instinct a bit instead of hitting every attraction on a top 10 list.
We found a brochure map marking the sculptures of Klaipėda including a sculpture park. We took a long walk to explore and see what the map revealed as a way to explore this city. The park was interesting and the old town was kind of cool. Riga's old town and abundance of Art Nouveau architecture is hard to beat in my opinion, but it's always interesting seeing other old towns in the area for comparison.
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Our third day of slowly exploring the Latvian coast had us staying in a riverside AirBnB in Užava. There's a beach there where the little river meets the sea, so that's a fun thing to see at the sea. We finished the day in Liepāja and stayed at a nice boutique hotel next to the big city park along the coast. We probably missed all sorts of things in this town because of our short stay. We followed the recommended walking tour on the map and that was it since we had one more destination on our agenda before heading home. We could see coming back here for a longer visit if we run out of other things to explore near us in Latvia.
Thursday, June 25, 2020
We pulled off at random spots to check out the nature during our drive from Kolka to Ventspils. That tactic turned a one hour drive into a surprise adventure day since we didn't have a set itinerary. Pēterezera dabas taka (pic above) was a nice nature trail through the wooded hills and by a small lake or large pond. Oviši had many dunes and smooth rocks along what looked like a dried up riverbed next to the beach. This post ends with some pictures of Ventspils before we went a little more south to our riverside AirBnB in Užava.
You're probably not thinking about heading to the beach when you think of a Baltic Sea country like Latvia. However, you should think about it since there are some really nice sandy beaches here. The weather isn't hot and sunny for very long, but these beaches are also great for a stroll even when it gets cooler. I had a nice long midsummer break from work so we drove along the coast and checked out some of the different kinds of beaches.
We've had several days without any cases of COVID-19 and the national emergency is over here. There's still guidance to keep 2 meters apart from each other and restaurant tables inside are still spaced out. We didn't see too many people in our travels but it was easy enough to keep some distance and spend some good times outside in the fresh air. It was a wonderful break from the earlier lockdowns.