This morning breakfast with machine coffee, superb freshly baked bread and locally made raspberry jam. The built up area extended east for five or six kilometres. The road surface although this is the main road to Riga is pretty rough bitumen but suddenly we were in the country with fields of unripe rye. Old farm dwellings are surrounded by clumps of trees. Unpruned apple trees with very small nearly ripe apples at the roadside are growing wild. The sky was blue with small white clouds hurrying from the southwest. The strong wind blew us along and with Camilla in front we were doing 18kph. on the flat. We turned off the main road at Jaunliegi onto the good bitumen road P112 and the traffic became very much quieter. As the day wore on there there were a few gentle hills surrounded by groups of a dozen or so wind turbines. Camilla was trying out her new sandals as riding shoes and stopped a few times to adjust the straps. After 30kms Camilla became very saddle sore and had to relieve her feelings by shouting and occasionally dismounting and walking. Eventually we reached Aizpute. I tried to ask a local couple stopped in a car the way to our booked accommodation at Metras Maja. In the absence of a common language they very kindly indicated that I should follow their car with my bike and they led me right to the door. At this point we met up with a group of german cyclists from Dresden who had not prebooked accommodation. They also stayed at the Metras Maja. They were travelling with a very good guidebook and finding places to stay as they went. They had all learnt russian at school and I was very impressed when their group leader Jana after studying the guidebook picked up her mobile phone." Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Do you speak English? Russki?" and then proceeded to book a stay for the next night speaking russian. All in about one minute.
|Aizpute main street|
Aizpute is an interesting old town. It is really falling down and looks to be painfully lacking in income. There are very few people for a town of its size. The shops are small and empty. Many houses seem unoccupied and derelict. A travelling hungarian group with sideshows and rides was set up at the top of the hill. There were fewer than a dozen children in attendance. Not even sufficient to pay for the fuel to their next stop.
When planning the next day's ride in the comfort of my computer room at home I had considered riding directly to Sniedzes on the gravel roads via Edole but we were still nervous since our bad experience on the gravel road to Pape. The traffic on the main road had not been too bad and also it was threatening to rain that day. The alternative we took via the main roads P112 and P108 through Kuldiga proved to be very interesting. Kuldiga is a really historic place which we could have missed by taking the other road. There is a little cobbled square in the town centre and we took coffee in a shop in the adjoining pedestrian/cyclists thoroughfare. We also biked down the hill for a look at the famous waterfall where salmon traps provided an initial reason for the location of the town. The buidings in the town many of round about 1920 vintage are mostly wooden, some with brick facades. Most are in dire need of renovation. Some beautiful old structures would be very rewarding to see in their original state.
|Entry to Kuldiga||Kuldiga Falls|
There were gentle hills again today but after Kuldiga they were mostly downhill. The traffic was greater than yesterday but not at all dangerous. There is no sign at the turnoff to our booked accommodation from the main road and without the large scale map which we had downloaded and printed out from viss.lv. we would not have found it. We had a lovely greeting by the owners of Sniedzes who were alerted by their dog barking and came out of their own house a kilometer down the road to guide us over the last stretch and show us the cabin. The drizzle which had been intermittent during the late afternoon became continuous after 18h00 and we had steady rain during the night.
The rain eased off for a while this morning then developed into intermittent slight rain which carried on all day. I dressed in a poly thermal top, rain jacket and nicks with woollen cycling gloves and the helmet cover given to me by Bernd on the Rotel tour. This proved to be very comfortable even though we arrived soaking wet in Ventspils. At one point during the day I even had to unzip the rain jacket due to overheating. Camilla wore nicks, yellow shirt and light rain jacket - at first with the hood up under the helmet but later folded with not a single complaint! She led the way all day at a fast pace for oldies with loaded tourers. Despite messing around after arrival in Ventspils we still averaged 15kph for the day.
Stopped at the side of the road we met a couple from Berlin who had cycled via Poland and Kaliningrad and planned to fly home from Riga. We left them and a few minutes later we found a coffee shop and indulged in two cups each avoiding a heavy rain shower. When we arrived in Ventspils we went first to the ferry terminal to find out exactly where we had to go and to pay our fare for the next day. We rode past various whimsical bovine sculptures include one of a cow climbing a pole. From the Ferry terminal to our booked accommodation was a 2km ride along the very pleasant, quiet river esplanade. After settling into our lodgings in Kapitenu Iela we walked with Viktor the owner of the boarding house 500 metres to a fish restaurant that he recommended where Camilla ate boiled cod and I fried trout while we all drank beer, Viktor's chased with a vodka all for a total of 16 latai (= $39)