We’re in quite a new phase of this adventure now. We woke up yesterday not knowing where we would be today, and woke up today not knowing where we’d be tomorrow. Basically, now we’re just making it up as we go along. Right now the goal is to make it to the western coast of Lithuania, to the Curonian Spit, a thin and fragile wedge of sand separating the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Lagoon. There is supposed to be great bicycling along the Split and nice beaches as well. As you may know, bicycles and beaches rank high on our “what should we do today?” scale, so that’s where we’re heading.
Today’s journey was a two-and-a-half hour bus ride from Riga to Kuldiga, a town Lonely Planet calls far enough from Riga to be a “perfect reward for the intrepid traveler.” It is, in fact, a really beautiful town with lots of old architecture, new parks, and bike paths. So after getting to the hotel, first up was a 90-minute bike ride through the country. Nothing spectacular, just a very pretty, bucolic ride on a little pavement, a lot of gravel, and occasionally just a couple of ruts. Here are some pics.
Mark on the trail
Through the woods
Out in the country
Then, after lunch and a rain delay, we did a walking tour of the town. One of the great things here is that they have a really nice Info office with great maps and English-language self-guided tours, so off we went. It was really striking, this great combination of beautiful buildings, crumbling buildings, and beautifully maintained and renovated parks. And firewood. It seemed like every yard in the city had a year’s worth of firewood already split and piled. I felt warm just looking at it all.
Kuldiga claims to have the widest natural waterfall in all Europe, though it’s somewhat less impressive than that might sound. Note the kids standing there jumping into the river; it looked like fun, but it was for kids…
Very cool statue called “Transporting,” honoring the local Duke of Courland who established colonies in Tobago and Gambia
Former bell tower to a one-time cemetery; the only traces left are the occasional bones that appear
Mark in Kuldiga
The city leaders are clearly making major efforts in the city – half the streets in the center are torn up, being renovated. You know, public works jobs, investments to make the city better for the long term. Something we should try in the States, maybe…
Finally, a new candidate for worst cocktail ever. I ordered a Dzeimess Bond, which if you sound it out phonetically is James Bond, which is how the waiter pronounced it. Supposed to be a vodka martini. I can say with some certainty that Dzeimess Bond would not have ordered a drink with more vermouth than vodka, with crushed ice, with a straw, with a lemon slice and olives … in a margarita glass! Mark’s gin martini had the same flaws. It was really a great restaurant with very affordable prices, but they have a bit to learn about cocktails.
A great restaurant with a very bad martini
Tomorrow is another reasonably short bus ride to Liepaja and then the following day (the days do have names here, but I really have no idea what today is, so how would I know what tomorrow or the day after would be?) on to Klaipeda, Lithuania. It’s crazy – a week ago I’d never heard of Kuldiga, Liepeja, or Klaipeda. This is a good way to discover the world!