We rolled into Liepāja later that evening, with the GPS announcing ‘You have reached your destination’, in the middle of a street that was most definitely not our destination. So we ignored it and kept driving, patting ourselves on the back when we found it sans technology – or rather found the street and the correct building.
The problem was that it was a huge block of flats and none of the doors had numbers on them. So, looking like criminals, we started at the first one and worked our way along, trying the key in all of the doors, smiling to reassure anybody who happened to pass by that we weren’t serial killers. No joy. Then we noticed a very faded number on the very last door and tried to count back however many doors would lead us to the number we were looking for. This also failed. Then we asked a random Russian dude.
‘It is probably that one, or the next one, or the next one.’ Great help he was.
We eventually found it, delighted to see that it had a little balcony – and that we’d arrived in time to buy wine. (Shops in Latvia stop selling alcohol at 10pm – apart from the shops that sell it 24-7. Welcome to the confusing world of Latvian laws…)
One bottle of wine and one sunset later, we hit the town, keen to see how the Liepājans (Lieputians?) celebrate pre-Līgo. By jogging, roller-blading and walking their dogs seemingly. At 11pm on a Saturday night. We found a bar close to the beach and marvelled at how it’s possible to have a bar full of Latvians – and zero atmosphere. However, there was a woman who’d clearly paid to have someone make her hair look as much like roadkill as possible, so between looking at her and fighting off mosquitoes, there was plenty of fun to be had.
The next morning, we were up (not very) bright and early, in search of Boulangerie, provider of the best brunch in town. Eventually finding it, tucked away in a side street behind the bustling market,we were told that there was no brunch that day. He’d just opened for a couple of hours to entertain himself until his Līgo party started. BUT, if we stayed for a coffee, he’d give us a recommendation on where to go afterwards.
Tea and coffee ordered, we climbed two flights of stairs to the roof terrace, pleased to find that it was just as lovely as my friend had said.
A very pleasant half-hour was spent here but upon descending, the owner cheerfully informed us that actually, nowhere else in town did brunch (and by the way, if we ever came back, we really should try his – it’s amazing). Feeling a little cheated and with our stomachs slowly eating themselves, we walked around until we finally managed to persuade somebody to make us a couple of omelettes.
Next, it was time to check out the beach in daylight. I made three discoveries here:
1. Liepāja beach really is beautiful.
2. The Baltic Sea really is baltic.
3. I really need to buy some new shoes.
Oh, and you can also do this:
After a lazy stroll around the centre and along the esplanade, we drove north, towards Pavilosta. Lonely Planet had promised beach bars and tiki huts (there were none) and a chilled out Californian surf vibe. I’m not sure about the California part, but there was a great beach and a great atmosphere. Possibly due to the fact that the entire population was crowded into the one and only cafe/bar in the village.
With time running out, we hit the road, for around 5 minutes anyway, then the road hit us. First it was a sign saying 5kms of dirt track. Then a sign saying 8kms of dirt track. Then a sign saying 5kms of dirt track. Why they couldn’t just have one sign that said ’18kms of shitty roads that will destroy your rental car’ is beyond me. The money they would save producing ‘teaser’ signs could perhaps be invested in the roads instead?
Just as we were approaching Riga, the skies opened, making it virtually impossible to see out the windshield. This is one of the advantages of having a calm, logical Dutchman around. While I was cowering in the passenger seat, he was driving and whistling. Yep, whistling.
Other advantages include:
- when a Dutchman leaves your home, it’s much cleaner than when he arrived
- he folds everything, even things normal people (or maybe just me) don’t fold
- he will do practical stuff like buy umbrellas and batteries, which you’ve been meaning to do for ages, but just never got around to
- he will attribute this slovenliness and general laziness to having ‘a creative mind’
Anyway, we made it back to Riga in one piece, although poor Janis Gold had aged around 20 years in two days. If anyone asks, it wasn’t us…
The beach!! I want that road sign for my personal decorating in the backyard that doesn’t exist. This is so fun.
Yep, I did like that! Paradise 0kms – and it was! 😉
You can to contend with mosquitoes, really? Are they everywhere? I hate mosquitoes, but they love me. I am my husband’s insect repellant because when I’m around, they don’t bother him as much. Glad you had such a fun, adventurous trip (is there anything you do that is not adventurous?)
I’m a mosquito magnet too! Well, tomorrow I’ll be working all day – nothing adventurous about that. But my friend suggested that my next country should be Nicaragua so watch this space 😉
The water in the Baltic Sea isn’t thaaaaat cold! I swam there almost a month ago already and didn’t even catch a cold 😉
You’re a brave girl – it was FREEZING! 😉 Or maybe I’m just Irish and soft!
Being born in Liepaja, I’m glad you liked it. The beach really is all 10 points and I’ve never seen such white fine sand anywhere else (maybe there are in tropical lands). The Baltic Sea (it is rather secluded inside sea) usually is very swimmable but most people prefer to do surfing, kite-boarding etc. The water changes temperature every day and it is more likely it will be warm in the evening not midday. But it’s gorgeous comparing to Pacific Ocean on the coasts of N California and up.
Did you see Louie Fontaine Palace and Promenade? Next time go straight there (especially if there is a gig or an event) and insist you want to meet Louie himself. He’s a character (self-elected Sheriff) and has created some fun stuff there, by the Liepaja Channel. His old hotel has even themed rooms (Elvis Presley room, a.o.) so one can really have great fun without leaving Fontaine’s planet that claim to be the leading rock venue in the Baltics. Any plans for the New Year’s Eve? Check this out: http://www.fontainepalace.lv/ Now I wish I was in Liepāja – city of rock music and wind.
Sorry for the complete tangent, but as a UK citizen just moved to Latvia (not sure for how long..), I wonder do you know anything about the legal status of people like us here? I have found that I can’t open a bank account here, and that it’s really difficult to get information on the net about how to go about getting a residence permit, or if that is necessary. Any hot tips?
Hi Adam, to open a bank account, you need to get a personal code first. It’s like a NI number in the UK. The office is near 2 Meza Kapi stop on the 11 tram line I think but you need to call and make an appointment first. If you’re working for a company here, normally they help you out with this kind of thing. It’s not hard to get it, just hard to find exactly where it is and I can’t remember as it was a while ago for me! I think you just need to bring your passport and a few passport-size photos and maybe proof that you have health insurance. You could try contacting your embassy – I’m sure they’d have the address and all the info you need. Hope this helps a bit! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or want to meet up for a coffee! Linda.
Here is the website – http://www.pmlp.gov.lv/en/pakalpojumi/uzturesanas.html – let me know if you need anything else!
Don’t you love Lonely Planet? Sometimes I wonder if they have ever visited the places in their books. Or if they are just two dudes setting around getting high:
Dude 1 – “Wouldn’t it be cool if there were tiki bars in Latvia.”
Dude 2 – “Totally! You should put it in there. It’s a good idea.”
Ha ha, love it! And starting to think you might be right! It’s been way off the mark a couple of times now! Although, with some places in Latvia, it’s hard to think of anything to say at all, so I have to admire their efforts!
This reminded me so much of Kaliningrad in Russia — the Baltic, the promise (but no follow-through) of brunch…
It was soooooooooo disappointing! The place was so lovely, we’d had recommendations, it was open… but still not to be!
If everything located by the Baltic Sea reminds you of Kaliningrad (dumbest state on Earth in terms of location) then you really must be seriously ill with Slavophilia or Russophilia, to be precise. Narrow view 😦
I was there once… only once… Did anyone ever warn you not to pick up stones from Liepājas beach???
No?! What happens? I didn’t really see any stones though – just powdery white sand!
It’s about picking up amber, not every stone. In Soviet times some phosphor bombs have been detonated in sea and fragments of them were being washed ashore – they look exactly like amber, but when warmed up (even keeping in pocket) can flare up, causing serious injuries. I don’t know how real the threat is nowadays, but better safe than sorry.
Indeed! Glad I didn’t pick anything up in that case!
A couple years ago 9 years old boy lost his fingers… that`s how real it is…
Glad I didn’t touch anything now. That’s awful.
Off with phobias! Why don’t those dozens of amber jewelry makers get burnt? They know what to look for. Besides, amber is not that easy to find. If you wish to find it it’s better to go with a person who knows where to find it and how it looks like. You can pick up any stone you like and if you go southwards to Nida you will find a sea of rocks and pebbles.
So, where’s the next expedition headed? I gathered from the post the Dutchman put up today that he’s more than game 🙂
What can I say? I give good road trip! 😉 Well, my next trip is to Rugby…
One of my search terms today was ‘penis’. Just that, nothing else! For some reason, I thought of you! 😉
LOL! Maybe we should pool our blogs, creating a ‘one stop shop’ to cover everybody’s needs.
You might have something there!
That giant drum kit is AMAZING! I want a go.
Boo at no brunch though.
I know! Such a tease! Several people had told me the place was great and we got there just as he was opening… but it was just him so he said he wasn’t cooking – just filling in a few hours! At least the roof terrace lived up to expectations – and seemingly the coffee was excellent. I had my usual tea with milk! 🙂