Sigulda to Ventspils

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We motored along the north east side of the Kolka Peninsula, stopping at a little cafe for a cold drink, exploring the beaches, taking a boardwalk across the dunes, which had information on how the coast had been formed.
Finally reaching the headland - a very windy place as it separated the Baltic from the Bay of Riga. Kolka is home to the last remnants of Latvia's Livonian ethnic group, whose Livonian language is highly endangered. However we could find neither them not their language - I hope that they are still there! At Kolka we turned south and arrived at Ventspils

During the German occupation from 1915–1919, the population decreased almost by half, though some returned home during the First Republic of Latvia (1918–1940). In 1939, the Red Army established a base in Ventspils. Under Soviet rule, an oil pipeline was built to Ventspils, and became USSR's leading port in crude oil export. After independence, the Latvian government began a city-beautification process to make the city more attractive to tourists.

To be fair, they have tried, but the city is the major port of the Baltic States, and that is what it remains. The penchant for cow statues was difficult to fathom. A local mini-garden competition was very well done, with very original works out of flowers and vegetables.

We stayed at Osmala, a strange apartment whose main plus point was that it was cheap. It was difficult to find, as the street it is in appears to have disjointed numbers. Because it is cheap, then some of the housekeeping is lacking. The window blind was broken, hence one could not keep out the light, the bed linen was a bit basic, and there was no iron or ironing board which we needed. However the owner was very welcoming, and one could easily walk round the town from here. The shared kitchen with 4 other apartments did not really work. It was full of families, who hogged the limited space available

Ventspils Castle (German: Windau) is one of the oldest and most well-preserved Livonian Order castles remaining, in that it has retained its original layout since the 13th century. Through its 700 year history, it has been used as a fortress, residence, garrison, school, military base, and prison. In 1995, the castle was restored to its 19th century appearance, and was converted into a museum.

Ventspils is not exactly main stream tourism in Latvia. We stayed there as we needed a convenient stopping place. There is not a big choice of restaurants, but we had a recommendation to try the Black Pig and found it very agreeable. It is set in the dungeons of the Castle. In other words find the castle first, then find your way to the restaurant . It is more a sub basement than a dungeon, but has bags of character, and the food's not bad either. The menu is "traditional Latvian" and that is what they actually serve. Many of the dishes on offer are pork (hence Black Pig) So if like us, you happen to be overnighting in Ventspils, I can recommend that you eat here.

The beach is aimed at family Latvian tourism, rather than international - only a local could sit on the very lovely beach here, with a biting wind and frequent rain squalls. Our photos show the scene on a sunny day in August....and a cow for the road


Our Itinerary in the Baltics