Sunday, August 25, 2019

Three days on the spin (4752*)

Given that we had a specific arrival date in Kalinigrad, we had to get a move on, so three consecutive riding days and one-night stops. It's tiring and has its own particular rhythm.

Here's a summary of the last few days...

Walking in Riga
We are becoming city walking tour experts. Inge, our guide in Riga was knowledgable, charming, funny and enthusiastic about her home town. It's a fascinating place having been German, Russian and Latvian in its time and always a major trading port - and a Hanseatic League member.

When the country asked Russia to return its city key and were refused, all the citizens contributed their own keys which were melted down to make a new one in a giant, group 'fuck you' to their former occupiers.

Up yours, Russia!
Riding to Cape Kolka
Remember those promised sea views? Hmm. There are many trees here. Most of them we found, situated between the coast road and the coast.

Still, we met Markus.

Markus's Bar
After many trees, we stopped for coffee and were greeted in a spartan but welcoming roadside bar/cafe by a friendly flank-forward of a man with a broad Irish accent. In fact, he wasn't Irish at all. Markus left Latvia to visit Ireland and stayed for ten years until his grandma died and left him her bar. He works super hard for the summer, then three days a week for the winter. Actually, it looked as though his wife works the hardest, at least while Markus is chatting to customers (which he is good at, though - Markus brought the craic back with him from the place of my birth).

Cape Kolka is a promontary where the Gulf of Riga meets the Baltic. It wasn't as wild as Lonely Planet said. But we liked it. (Anywhere that you have to pay to park isn't wild.)

Tree on beach: Cape Kolka
We stayed in a Liv village overnight. There are only around 200 remaining native speakers of the language of the sea and river people who gave their name to this region; Livonia.

The Baltic vs the Med
Sort of by accident, we've almost circumnavigated the Baltic and its associated seas. It's been intriguing. It struck me that we know much of the history, culture and influence of the Mediterranean and its surroundings, but relatively little of the equivalent of this region. But it's just as interesting and as deep and as multi-layered as its southern neighbour. And just as pertinent to us in Britain.

The Curonian Spit
We took the ferry from Klaipeda (we liked it there) to the Spit full of excitement.

Ferry to the Spit
On the spit there are huge sand dunes. These massive geological features are almost living beings. There were villages there once, but the movement of the dunes, up to five metres per year, wiped them out. Judging by the pleading signs urging people to stick to the wooden walkways (and the visitors we saw ignoring them), you got the feeling that the authorities might be losing their battle to preserve this delicate ecosystem.

View from dune-top
There is also an eerie bird sanctuary made up of cormorants and herons. The acidic bird droppings strip the trees of foliage. It looks apocalyptic. There are over 6000 birds there.

Naked trees...
And we had to cross the border into Russia. It. Was. Slow. In fact, we were russian (geddit?) more than they were (one vehicle per half-hour). Hmm.

(We had to complete a customs document. There was only a Russian version. A young bilingual Lithuanian woman offered, unbidden, to help is with ours. People are kind.)

So tired, tired of waiting...
We're here now, though (Kalinigrad!). 🙂

Here follow the items I was going to address today, but this blog is too long!
Fatigue and Morale
Yoga is bad for you
Parking in Kaliningrad

*Estimated figure - though we have now topped 4.5k - because I forgot to check final mileage AGAIN when I got off the bike.


  1. I was looking forward to the section entitled "Fatigue and Morale", but maybe you were too tired and depressed to write it. And Martha may have something to say about "Yoga is bad for you"...

  2. Love this post. Lots going on! Makes sure you spend some time resting - self care and self compassion, please! Big love from your cheerleaders in Londres x


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