Friday, June 12, 2015

Saying goodbye to Riga was hard

It was my last day in Riga and it was time to say goodbye. This was going to be hard for me to do. I really enjoyed my visit to Riga the people were friendly. I saw so many wonderful places and still missed out on so many. I was sick on the 9th some thing I ate must not have agreed with me a result I stayed in most of the day. I only left too look for something to take for my tummy and also to have a pot of tea later in the day. 

I went down and feeling better I was able to enjoy my last breakfast at the hotel. I looked out the windows again at a city I came to love in a short time.  I had packed the night before so I was able to to out and look around for a few hours. 

dining room at hotel

Looking out the hotel window

I walked to St Peters Church but I did not have enough time to go inside so I just stopped in the doorway for a few moments.  I had the hotel call Baltic taxi and I waited outside for them to arrive they charged me the same price to go back to the airport. I like having a taxi I could trust. I flew back to Toronto via Frankfurt I arrived Toronto late in the evening picked up my car and went to the hotel to spend the night before my drive home.

I'd like to think I could go back again some day perhaps I will.
St Peters

StMary's Dome Cathedral,

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A journey to the Baltic Sea and Jurmala

Lacplesis Monument Majori

Jurmala was on my list of places to visit because it was close to Riga, and it was on the Baltic Sea. I walked to the train that was a bit of a hike because my leg was really starting to bother me and I was also recovering from a sick tummy the day before.  I managed to find a spot that I was able to take a lift down to the underground cross way. Then I had to walk into the to the "Origo" shopping Mall in order to locate the train station.  I finally found it and then bought a ticket for Majori, because the was the main stop for Jurmala. The next step was attempting to locate the track the train would actually leave from and that was also very confusing. I had looked at the map and it seemed to be the right track.

The train arrived and I decided it was the correct one (even though it was earlier than I was told) however looking at the map the train destination on the front of the train should be the one stopping in Majori I thought hopefully. I got on the train and found a spot and it seemed to be okay. The train was going and stopping at various towns, a woman conductor came to stamp my ticket.  I was worried by now if it was the right train, and she did not know English (which I did not expect her to) I showed her the ticket pointing to the town of Majori printed on it. She took it looked at it started laughing at me and showed the ticket to other people and they were all laughing and staring at me she was rambling on in her language  and pointing to me. I felt really stupid and sure I was on the wrong train. I was lucky because the young man next to me spoke English and assured me I was on the right train. 

We finally arrived and I got off the train no easy task and started to walk into town I noticed a sign saying Boat tour so I decided to go see what it was for. When I arrived a woman came up and asked if I was English and I said no American she laughed and said you'll do. Apparently they needed 10 people to take the tour as they needed 50 euro to make the trip worthwhile and long story short would I go along and pay the higher price I said sure why not. It was an enjoyable trip not very scenic but it was a nice breeze on the boat and talking to the woman and listening made it a nice hour on the river.

view from the boat

I then headed down to the Sea and walked along the sand, snapped photos, spotted some interesting birds. I took my shoes off and walked along the shore in the water for quite the distance. I finally came a spot where people were taking photos and got one of me standing in the Sea.  I started to feel hungry as I had barely eaten breakfast as my tummy was still a bit off. I looked at several places on the beach and one had grilled chicken and french fries and a salad ok, maybe not the best dinner after being sick but I was finally hungry and it smelt so good. I sat outside and enjoyed YUMMY.

wave from the sea

beach walker
floating on the Baltic Sea

I walked back along the beach and past the hotel resorts and over to the area with all little shops and booths set up. I spotted a little toilet area with about 10 cats hanging around. The woman cleaning the place brought out food and fed them and I handed her some euros for food for them.

Bathroom kitties

feed me feed me

Lacplesis, or the bear Slayer, is part man, part bear. Otherwise a kindly figure, Lacplesis goes into action whenever his fellow Latvians are in trouble.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Rundale Palace

A visit to Rundale Palace was a must on my list when visiting Latvia. (Rundale castle is one of Latvia's most outstanding monuments of Baroque and Rocco 18th century art. The palace was built between 1736 and 1740 as a summer residence for Ernst Johann von Biron the Duke of Clourland. It boasts 54 rooms which have been restored to their original splendor, it took 50 years to restore.  Some have called the palace the Versailles of Latvia. 

I went to Smile Line Tours to see if they had a tour going there in the next couple days. I was told there was a minimum of 2 people to take the tour, the woman asked if I wanted to give me email in case she could find any one else going  so I gave it. By the afternoon there was an email saying I could join a tour the following morning. I was very happy to say the least I headed to the tourist place and had a bit of trouble finding it again and asked a girl who had a sign for a walking tour and even though it was not the same company she was representing she actually walked me to the location.

There were 3 on the tour, two men who turns out walked in and booked the right after I left one was from Washington DC he said he lived in Buffalo (there's always a Buffalo connection) years ago for 4 years and loved it.  The guide was really good his name was Janis.  We drove to the Palace and we made a bit of a stop at Bauska Castle (Bauskas Pils) and walked around the outside including some ruins. 
Bauskas Pils
Then we continued to the Palace the weather was a bit gloomy but at least it was not raining we looked around outside our guide told us to look up and pointed out a stork sitting on the nest on top of one part of the palace.  The admission was not included in the tour so we stopped to buy our tickets and they were also selling a pass to be able to take photos inside for an additional 2 euros and of course I gladly paid that. 

We climbed the beautiful staircase and began the tour of the various rooms and each one seemed more outstanding than the other. There were rooms of so many different colors  and I was enjoying each one immensely. Our guide was full of stories pointing out so many things that I think we would have overlooked he obviously enjoyed showing us the rooms., and he knew so much about them, which only added to the visit. The pictures capture a bit of the grandeur of the rooms. Click to enlarge.
Up the beautiful parade staircase

The White Ballroom

Afterwards we went outside and sun had come out we looked in the gardens which were beautifully laid out  I read there are 2500 roses in the Rose garden but we did not see them. It was probably too early for them to be in bloom. We then stopped  at Balta Maja restaurant on the grounds and tried some of the apple pie that our guide had told us about and he was right it was very good.  I would recommend visiting the palace to anyone interested in beautiful displays I am so happy I was able to visit there it ranks high in the palaces I have visited.

Porcelain room

The Rose Room

what a ceiling
the Dining room

superb ceilings
Balta Maja Inn

View from the gardens