Last Saturday was my friend Guna’s birthday. You can imagine my excitement when it was announced that we would celebrate it by having a girls’ weekend in Liepāja.
Lazy day on the beach + biking to the restaurant for dinner, followed by crazy dancing at the beach discos…biking around the night town…
While I could well imagine that the biking would take place, I was skeptical about the crazy dancing. Any time a Latvian has ever said to me “You just wait til you see us party – we’ll still be going in the morning!”, I’ve found that by “morning”, they meant 12.01 and were tucked up in their beds by around 12.03. Still, never one to let my cynical side get the better of me, I was looking forward to it.
I was to be picked up by Guna and Gunta between 8.30 and 9.00. I threw a few bits into a bag and at 8.30, knowing there was no hurry, sat down with another cup of tea. Sure enough, it was close to 9.30 by the time they arrived. In high spirits, we hit the road, the issue of me moving to Germany foremost on everyone’s mind. Or rather, how to stop me moving to Germany. By the time we’d left Riga, Guna had hatched a cunning plot to pin me down and get me impregnated by a Liepājan Jānis. I briefly wondered if rolling from a moving car into a ditch was as easy as it looks in the movies.
A couple of hours later, we arrived in Liepāja, met up with our friend Ginta who lives there during the summer, reserved a few bikes for later (sigh), and hit the beach.
A blissful few hours were spent, discussing hot topics of the day such as “Do you have yogurt in Ireland?”, and turning over every 30 minutes or so. At around 5pm, we packed up and headed to the information centre to pick up our bicycles. As I looked at them, all I noticed was that they were red and had probably been around since Guna’s grandmother’s day. It was only when I was already moving that I realised there were no brakes.
Me: Where are the damn brakes?!
Gunta: The pedals!
I’d forgotten that bikes like that existed. After almost shooting over the handlebars a couple of times, I eventually made it back to our apartment – wobbly but in one piece. Quick showers were had, glad rags put on, and soon we were ready to go to the restaurant. We rode around to Ginta’s place over mainly cobblestone streets. Needless to say, the seats weren’t very well padded and shock absorbers hadn’t been invented when these bikes came into being, so it was a bit like sitting on a vibrating concrete block. (And no, that’s not a good thing.)
We cycled to the wonderfully-located Libava restaurant and took our reserved table outside, overlooking the river. At this stage, I was so hungry I could have eaten a small child, but I settled for the roast pork, which was excellent. (So excellent, I ate it before I could take a picture.) After a while, a speed-boat full of Jānises pulled up and they sat at the table next to us. After some accidental flirting by yours truly, a bottle of wine was delivered to our table. I may have underestimated Jānises.
Still, we had to leave, as Ginta had reserved another table for us at a beach bar where a “concert” was taking place. My dismount at the end of the wooden ramp to the sand was less than elegant. In a bid to calm my nerves, and for the location that was in it, I decided I’d have a “Sex on the Beach”. To my dismay, it was listed in the non-alcoholic section – “Safe Sex on the Beach”. I decided to chance my arm and asked for a “Safe Sex on the Beach without the safety”. This actually produced a giggle from the bar girl and, more importantly, it produced vodka. It turned out I’d need it.
Sure that I could feel Elvis spinning in his grave, I took myself off for a little walk. I was rewarded with this nice photo – and my desire to hear again returning.
After a while, it was time to head back to the rather fancy Promenade Hotel for dessert. At this point, Ginta, being 4 months pregnant, decided to call it a night. My arse and I also decided that we’d had enough of the bike from hell so a new plan was needed. We went back to the apartment where I deposited my less than trusty steed. The girls were to cycle back to the beach to check out a singles party happening there – if it was any good, they’d give me a call and I’d hop in a taxi and join them. If not, we’d call it a night. (It was just before midnight…)
Watching them disappear into the night, I did what any sensible person would not do and took off for a wander to kill time. I was sure there had to be a party happening somewhere in this town, and just as sure that I would be the woman to find it. Hello Fontaine Palace. Gunta had just called to say that the party was crap so they were having one drink and heading home. The call of a live rock band (and possible fun) calling me, I paid my €3 and walked into the cavernous bar.
I ordered a pint and within a couple of minutes, a guy danced over to me. He turned out to be the drunkest German sailor in the world. I couldn’t hear much of what he was saying over the music; also, I had to keep turning away to discreetly wipe his over-excited saliva off my face. Still, he was kind of entertaining and he told me my German was very good so he was alright by me.
While we were talking, a guy behind him kept on catching my eye and then turning away. I figured he was Latvian – no smile and a man bag. After the German fell out the door, I was amused to notice that he’d moved one seat closer. He’d go to the bathroom and come back, sitting down another seat closer. This went on for some time until finally he was sitting next to me. Latvians…
Anyway, he turned out to be a nice guy and, as an insanely loud band had now taken the stage, we moved outside. The rest of the night passed in a bit of a blur. I was always ready to leave “after this pint”, but then someone else would come over, a conversation would start, and I’d end up getting another. I even met Latvia’s answer to Matthew Gray Gubler, who, although he’d been drinking for around 3 days solid still managed to look hot…
At around 8am, I decided it was probably time to call it a
night day, and headed for home. Waking up at around 1.30, I was relieved to discover that a) the bikes had already been returned, and b) we were still in time for the infamous brunch at Boulangerie.
Regaling Gunta and Guna with tales of my adventures the night before, we stuffed ourselves with omelettes, lasagna and crepes, washed down with copious amounts of milky tea – OK, that was just me.
A few hours later, back at my flat in Riga, I came to the conclusion that although my arse hadn’t enjoyed the weekend much, I most certainly had. Thank you ladies (and Liepājans) for a weekend to remember. And no, in case you’re wondering, I didn’t get impregnated by a Jānis…