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Sunday we took two of SERDE's old bicycles out for a ride around town. These are much the same era bikes as we had access to in Lapua but in better condition, nevertheless, the single-speed gearing and lack of hand brakes are difficult for us to get used to. Also, compared to our mountain bikes with geometry to allow for quick turns making turns on these borrowed cycles with what is to us huge wheels seems a bit unstable. Nevertheless, we really enjoy being able to go for rides.
We quickly got out of town - several times - Aizpute is not very large. There were many beautifully maintained gardens both for vegetables and flowers. There were also large community gardens with multiple small greenhouses and individual plots.
After lunch we took the rental car and drove to the village of Kazdanga. Quickly arriving we realized we could have easily biked the 9 km. We enjoyed our walk around the Kazdanga Castle and Manor grounds. A massive amount of cut wood was piled behind the 19th century Castle on an old basketball court, no doubt constructed during the Soviet era. We strolled to the crypt of Barons Manteuffels and continued on the path to view contemporary sculpture made from wood. We were especially taken by the male figure made by negative space with the shadowing female figure which appeared to be cut out from the original log.
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The weather forecast for Monday was warmer and partly cloudy so we decided to take advantage of the better weather to drive 40 km to the small fishing village of Pāvilosta. When we arrived it was cold and windy, threatening to rain. So we bundled up and continued on. Walking along the harbor canal Paul stopped to record a "siren's song" created by the wind through the mast of one of the boats. The sandy beach of the Baltic Sea coast was virtually deserted save for a lone surfer in a wet suit who didn't last long, a mother and daughter running in and out from a relatively wind protected place and a scavenger on a bike that we had seen earlier picking out bottles to recycle for cash.
The sand of the beach is remarkably free from debris, plants, animals or even stones that we would normally expect to see washed ashore. We enjoyed our walk but were relieved when we found a boardwalk trail that offered protection from the wind. The wind was strong enough to noticeably move the small and sturdy observation tower we mounted.
Unfortunately the maritime museum was closed (as were all others we attempted on Monday). We stopped for some lovely and inexpensive cappuccinos, a generous smoked salmon baguette sandwich and a peach and berry tart at an unassuming Kafejnīca. Driving out of town we stopped at the 100 year commemorative stone park and found the millstone placed upon a manmade hill overlooking the river.
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Returning to Aizpute we decided to take a slight detour to the village of Cīrava. The dirt road was being graded, once we passed the grader we understood why. Tours of beehive training site require previous booking so we continued on to the Cirava antiquities storehouse - which is closed Mondays. Undeterred we drove to the center of town to take many photos of the old Lutheran Church, Millhouse and a hunting castle of the von Manteuffels family. Seeing these once magnificent buildings in various states of disrepair was emotional.
Once back to SERDE we videotaped an experiment with balls on the various old wooden floors - an edited version will be coming soon. We also enjoyed having a Skype conversation with Paul's siblings and Dad who had gathered in Ames to celebrate Bill's 96th birthday.
Tuesday morning we went back to the "Jewish steps" to shoot a standing version "Aizpute Steps" stop motion video. This time the weather forecast was accurate as we got caught in pretty heavy showers.