Beside of introducing my friends to Estonia I made them discover Latvia, a country I especially like for its capital Riga. We rented a car and were able to explore some cities nearby.
Driving from Tallinn
Living Tallinn I shown them the waterfall in Keila Joa. We had a little tour around in the forest and had a lunch in a brasserie at lunch. The food was yet simple but tasty. I kept driving in the countryside until Haapsalu to show the castle ruins and sea side.The guys were happy. It was sunny and hot.
I continued to the south of Estonia where we made a stop in Kabli. Time to play on the sea with stones and then Cedric took the wheel. He discovered the Latvian road and Baltic way of driving! At first he was so shy to drive on small road with 4 cars leading up front… then he became so confident that he could make me scared some times 😛
Riga and rain
When we arrived in Riga I began the driver again. My hardest mission was not to find the hostel but a parking place where we could leave the car. Since we were tired and nothing showed up we parked at the train station underground parking. We walked to the shop for dinner and breakfast and get keys from hostel. It was dark and I wanted to visit the city at night, I was the only one and didn’t.
Our day in Riga started with a tour in the old town. I shown them the Freedom square, the house of the Blackheads and some nice streets and monuments. They were charmed by the Art Nouveau district and the Orthodox cathedral.
Along the Daugava is a new promenade. We walked on it to see observe the National library and some trains passing on the railway bridge.
Not able to find a budget Latvian restaurant we had lunch in Lido, tasty meals on the terrace outside with a beer.
Mathieu and Amelie were more tired than Cedric and me. So they went to sleep in hostel while with the geek we went to try some pubs in the animated and warm old town.
Evening in Jurmala
I haven’t taken any photo at Jurmala but it was a very good time! Spending the afternoon swimming in the Baltic Sea was great 🙂 Comparing to Tallinn the sea becomes deep at a short distance. Before going rain started to fall over Riga and we checked the weather forecast ro guess if it coyld rain in the following hours in Jurmala. Probablity was low so we have been. But on the way back to Riga I got lost with car in the heart of the city under the rain. Riga old town is not aimed to be used by car, one lesson I learnt.
No Tartu, more Lativa
We planed to visit some cities of Latvia. As I told Cedric: Latvia is full of pretty and interesting towns, I underlined the city of Jelgava and its palace… what Cedric liked!
In the Palace I expected to make a small visit and see the tombs of Dukes of Courtand. First disappointment we had to pay for the entrance of the … hum … museum. A large Latvian woman was literally blocking us from leaving if we didn’t pay for the visit after having caught us in the yard. That museum was very small and nothing in English. Second disappointment, the tombs I was asking far were hidden. Nobody from there knew how to guide us until we met a professor. He told that we could have access from outside only! Those people haven’t mentioned it before… Third and big disappointment: the entrance to see the tombs would have cost each of us more than 7 euros! More was asked to make photos… No way!
Cēsisis very pretty
Cēsis castle is one of the most impressive castles of the Baltic along with Kuresaare and Narva. I had some difficulties to convince the guys to visit it. They would rather go back to Estonia…
Luckily for me, for us, the city was very pretty! We had lunch on the square, people playing outside 🙂
We discovered that there are actually two castles. A medieval Livonian castle and a more recent which is now a history museum.
Down the castle is a very cool park with a pound. And a little up farther an orthodox church. I found it very nice and simple, fully blue. Some ladies were picking apples which have felt from trees.
Lost in Seda marsh
Leaving Latvia and still without any real idea of where to go we drove in the direction of Valka/Valga. Friends desired to see a national park, and in Seda we hopped to meet something similar to the Estonian Lahemaa reserve. We got lost trying to find it and ended up near a lake where were only Russian people. I drove a little more and finally got the correct road.
In Seda we had hard time to drive. No road, I was doing my best to not break the car or get stuck in the middle of nowhere. Once we realized that nothing interesting was there, we all agreed on going straight to Tallinn.
I explained them the particularity of Valka/Valga and said it would be cool to make a photo at the border, somewhow we didn’t find this particular place and haven’t made any pics.