Needless to say, that didn’t start our stay on a good note. The very unreliable internet (we must have our internet!) further infected our attitude about the stay. That said, we pulled the hot plate in from the outdoor kitchen and just washed dishes/produce in the bathroom sink. When our hostess and her daughter contacted us on Saturday to invite us to Easter breakfast it was quite nice, but a little too late. We did enjoy our visit but we don’t have warm fuzzies.
On Friday morning we drove into Kuldīga and began walking to the tourist highlights numbered on our (English) map that we brought with us. As we walked down the iela (street) next to St. Katrinas Lutheran Church a beret topped man exited the door of his house to walk his cat and started to eye me (Paul) with some suspicion. Jo quickly took a shot of him but propriety dictated that his privacy be respected.
A bit further down Baznicas Iela (Church Street) we entered the former home of the burgomeister, a 17th century building where Swedish king Karl XII stayed ins 1702 and left his very large clothes chest which was built into a wall as a cabinet. The tourist/historical attraction had three apartments and, as we visited three young girls ran about giggling, running away as I attempted to get their pictures.
Further down the street we came across the old market square and old town hall, which had a prison in the basement which now houses the pub Pagrabiņš. We returned later for lunch in an isolated cell. Once the wait staff came (a longer wait than we wanted), we had a lovely lunch of Latvian food: Sprats with a potato salad and pickled herring, cottage cheese (very good), boiled potatoes and cucumber salad. The bill was surprisingly cheap.
Then onto the extensive and lovely sculpture garden featuring the works of Līvija Rezevska Much of her work, created during the Soviet occupation, focused upon folk musicians – perhaps an expression of nationality and solidarity that could pass the Communist censors under the Moscow-dominated regime. We noted that aesthetic nature of the town, and others in Latvia, with some regret in comparison to the anti-Public Art sentiment that we have experienced at home.
Walking past The Holy Trinity Church in the “Catholic Block” we saw a man and his son carrying a life-sized crucifix, which we saw installed in another church yard as a Holy Friday devotion.
We explored various medieval buildings and made our way up Liepājas iela, a lovely pedestrian road. A quick tangent off the road towards the beautiful Kuldīga Orthodox Church brought us past what appeared to be the entries in a wood sculpture competition. We were amused to see Bart Simpson with a T-shirt emblazoned “Kuldīga”. Along Liepajas they have installed large wooden song birds on every street lamp. It appeared that the color of the bird was selected to match the colors of the nearby buildings. At a round-about at the end of the street (open to traffic at that end) were two massive birdhouses with two more of the oversized birds.
As the street opened up for cars we came across a wonderful public art installation; all of the trees had been wrapped with different, brightly colored, crocheted "sweaters" up to, and including, the main branches. At the end of the street was another “tree, completely artificial that had a very large frame placed in front of it to declare this as "art" (we saw a similar frame in Cesis at the pedestrian entry to a street).
We finished our exploration of Kuldīga by walking across one of the longest, vaulted brick bridges in Europe for a view of Ventas Rumbas, the widest waterfall in Europe. Though not very high it was definitely impressive in its girth. Fish were furiously attempting to fly up the waterfall "step" (I was getting my haircut today and the hairdresser had remarked that Kuldiga is famous for its "flying" fish-JG).
On Saturday we drove towards the Baltic Sea, stopping at various pils, (castles) along the way . Outside the little town of Alsungas we walked a short trail along the Abava River. In Jūrkalnes we enjoyed the sea, spending time to record the sound of the gentle waves. In Pāvilosta we found a kafenejica to eat that was, surprisingly, a little over-priced and rather “hip”. We walked out on the rocky pier and decided that our trip was ending a bit anticlimactically.
Fortunately, we decided to take a gravel backroad through Aizputes. As we neared the town we came by a wetland that was filled with hundreds upon hundreds of petrels(?), flying, nesting, squawking. We pulled over immediately and began shooting pictures and recording sound. We also visited the ruins of castles but the birds overwhelm our memories.
On Easter Sunday our hosts “hid” two eggs decorated by dyeing in onion skins to create patterns and offered us traditional Russian bunny sweet bread. Driving back to Riga we stopped in Sabile to view an incredible menagerie of life-sized soft sculpture dolls portraying family life, musicians, dancers, etc. with great humor.
Back in Riga we noted that Spring had sprung and the trees are blooming. Taking a walk we enjoyed a new public art installation of day glow orange and green painted bicycles mounted in the crotch of the trees. A walk through Old Town showed that the tourist have descended to enjoy the newly built outdoor eating/drinking areas of the various cafes.