Saturday, January 19, 2013

Riding to Tukums 2

Tukums is a town, tidy, well-kept, even idyllic in some corners.  Regardless the fact that it's small, it has  sites to see. 
First of all, it has a tourist information center with an extensive collection of brochures about Latvia's sites. 
There is also a linen clothes shop, not a cheap one, but with an interesting collection of modern and stylish clothes for children and adults. Bags, scarves, tablecloth, hats... It's worth dropping in.  
Horse riding school, classes at 8 lats per hour. 
Minor sculpture here and there. 

It order to get to Tukums you ride along the lake system Kanieris. When riding past the lake system Kanieris, you can go boating to break from the routine of riding. It's a bird paradise so you will undoubtedly see some swans, egrets. We saw a harrier once.  Go there on week-days, since people go fishing there at weekends and scare away birds.  Take along binoculars, a camera. You can spend some hours on the bird-watching tower nearby.
The cat at the boat center. He was unwilling to socialize but I got him against his will. I suspect he is too spoilt with all those fish he's treated to by fishermen at the boat station. 
 We always ride along outskirts of towns and villages. There's no traffic.
 The tower for bird watchers.

The restaurant of the central hotel of Tukums, called Tukums, a room at 20 lats=40 dollars.  The room was relatively spacious, and clean. However, the window was on the roof and, with the weather in Latvia being changeable, one can't leave it open at night or when going outside. It can start raining at any moment and you'll end up with a room full of water. So that was the only inconvenience we had there: always having to close the window. 
The dishes were adorably cheap, beautifully served, tasty Have a look at the pie with strawberries! 
 The center of Tukums. 

Riding to Tukums 1

Riding a bike in Latvia is an unbeatable pleasure. It's never too hot or too cold for  riding hours in a row. I  daily  got my bike and rode along the beach. There are kilometers of riding paths in the pine forest or along the seacoast - it's up to you to choose.

No matter how far from Jurmala or Riga you ride, you'll always see either a nice hotel or a cafe to get a nap or a snack. And what's exotic about it? Compared to Russia, which is also crammed with hotels, boutique- hotels(even in some remote town where people earn like 200 dollars per month), restaurants, you are guaranteed to have a good meal or service at a reasonable (if not unexpectedly cheap) price. I mean in Russia you're not. Compared to Western European countries, everything is considerably cheaper.

 Riding along the coast in the pine forest... Breathing in and out...

 Dozens of paths in the forest, not easy riding...

Baltic Sea, special.

Lativa is a tiny country compared to the Russian Federation or the USA, or China. When I first visited it, I have never thought I would get to love it more each year.

Today's post is about its sea. Most of you have been to the Black , the Red, the Dead Seas, the ocean is unparalleled as well. The Baltic Sea is somehow different.

For those who have goose pimples just when  temperatures fall below +20 Celsius, the Baltic Sea may feel like the Arctic Ocean.  Despite being rather cold, it has the charm that you won't get anywhere in the South.  Faded colours don't bother, excite or exhilarate,  they have a more relaxing, unwinding influence.

Enjoy the slide show here

On the bright side the sea is perfectly good for exercising yourself. It is not for over-pampered Indians, "Floridians" or  Africans. It will never be warm enough for them. At the same time no other sea will clear your mind and freshen up your body momentarily after immersion.  Even in the middle of summer your body tightens up, frosen at first, getting the hottest wave of blood all over you afterwards. That will undoubtedly improve your health like no aspirin or healthcare can do. I once got rid of a bad cough by plunging into ice-cold water.

Well, plunging... It's not that easy, you can't actually plunge into the Baltic Sea. It's shallow.  One wades into the blue hazy distance for a long time in order to plunge in the end. And again, it's advantageous  for those who travel with children, or those who want to see where all the putti go on holiday.  On a warm day putti, chubby and pinkish, with blue eyes and blonde curls are all around the beaches. Mothers never worry about the creatures too much since they wade knee-deep in the sea.

Another thing I like about the Baltic Sea is its rejuvenating influence on my skin. It's not like after swimming in  the Red Sea, when you wash away the salt right after splashing around to prevent skin irritation . It's more like mineral water you're swimming in, it has milder impact on your skin, smoothes out wrinkles and makes your skin glow.

I always travel off the beaten track mostly discovering wonder spots, untouched and almost pristine.

Jurmala is a popular tourist destination in Latvia, it holds a pop music competition "New Wave" which attracts Forbs list people. It's more likely that not the competition itself attracts them but young singing (or just walking to and fro) starlets arriving at Jurmala in hords of short-skirted young ladies at that time.   The cosy Jurmala art nouveou style country houses are all around creating the atmosphere of 19th century and all that stuff...

Regardless all those exciting attractions (except those short-skirted ones, not so exciting to me) of Jurmala I  direct my bike further south, 10 kilometers from Jurmala, to Ragaciems. The sea is deeper there, cleaner. The beach is never crowded, and always clean.

The above pictures were taken in August, the weather was cool and the sea looked like mercury overflowing the brim of the sea bowl. Riding along the coast was weird, so unrealistic the surface looked.