Latvians have this quirky little habit of overselling everything that is Latvian. Everything from the crumbling charms of Kalnciema Kvartals, to the ramshackle one-horse town that is Pavilosta, has been described to me as “stunning”.
Actually, it’s probably advisable not to tell Latvians where you’re going ahead of time – they’ll get your expectations up far too much over something that is probably “fine” or “nice”, at best. A Swedish friend of mine recently suggested adding “for Latvia” to the end of every sentence to keep excitement suitably dampened.
Sven: How’s your curry?
Me: Yeah, it’s pretty good – for Latvia.
Sven: How was the service?
Me: Yeah, it was pretty good – for Latvia.
See what I did there?
However, nothing or nobody is guilty of overselling Latvia more than the Facebook page, If you like Latvia, Latvia likes you, the implication being , of course, that if you don’t like Latvia, or dare to point out a couple of things that bug you, Latvia will hang, draw and quarter you, then feed your shredded remains to the gangs of feral cats that roam the streets of Riga.
Now I get that it’s a government-sponsored page so they have to do their best at promoting the modest charms of Latvia, but this site is so saccharine-soaked and overly-optimistic that it almost gives me a seizure every time I look at it – sort of like a Latvian David Brent, on crack. Deivids Brants…
Here are a few little gems I just had to share. (I like it when other people suffer with me.)
Summer in Latvia is something truly unique. You can experience everything possibly imaginable – from rapid rivers and deep green forests, to vivid cornfields all over the country. (Twitches.)
We like to say that the journey is more important than the destination (except when your destination is Latvia, of course). This is exactly why there are so many ways to unravel the amazing sights of this wonderful country of ours. (Grinds teeth.)
Have you heard about the Versailles of Latvia? We’re talking about the Rundāle Palace, of course. The 18th-century Baroque palace recently celebrated the completion of 50 years of renovation work. A truly magnificent site, it can undoubtedly be called the Versailles of not only Latvia, but the whole of Northern Europe. (Sniggers.)
Amazing, beautiful, gorgeous, welcoming and only 813 years old? Yes, your guess is correct – it’s the breathtaking city of Riga. (Keels over, clawing at eyes…)
There’s a thing we can say for sure – we, Latvians, really love our wildlife. From amazing lakes and forests to astonishing butterflies in all colours and sizes. (Silently weeps.)
Don’t get me wrong – there is some useful information on the site, and of course there are plenty of places in Latvia worth visiting. There’s just something about the peppy, super happy-clappy (frankly, very unLatvian), almost cult-like style of delivery that gets on my wick. It also results in readers getting dangerously over-excited:
If my blog can be accused of being overly
negative realistic, then this site is definitely the antidote you’ve been looking for. In fact, it’s pretty good – for Latvia.