On my birthday, just after waking up, E surprised me with a great present: a tour along the Baltic Sea coasts of Latvia and Lithuania. Since I was born in the coastal town of The Hague (or more precisely, Scheveningen), I love the sea and the beach. The sound of the surf, where the waters caress the land, is one of my favorite auditory pleasures. Especially in what people call off-season, when the weather is rougher, the waves wilder and the wind clears your head. Since my birthday is in winter, it was a perfectly planned trip.
The first stage meant driving to the port-city Ventspils. We had heard many things about it, mainly good things. Many people find it a lovely town, well kept and very pleasant to visit. A guy who lives there told us there is actually not that much to do. Apart from these opinions, Ventspils is the most important port of the Baltics, ice-free year round and has the capacity for transshipping all types of goods, from oil to juice, with dry goods (my guess is mainly wood and coal) in between.
Seeing the port, so close to the city center, is impressive. It’s not Rotterdam, but still. But the rest of the town is actually a bit boring. Sure, there are a few nice buildings, a great looking beach south of the port and a nice collection of cow statues, but there are only a handful of places where you can have a drink or eat something and not many people in the streets. The Old Town covers only a very small area; outside of that, the town is greyish. And it doesn’t even look that well kept and clean. It might have been because of the cold winter day, but still.
After taking in the sights of Ventspils, we drove on southwards to the guest house we were staying in. Now that was a great experience. At the end of a road leading off the main road from Ventspils to Liepaja, we found a little paradise in the Sarnate guest house. The main building has a bar, a big room with a fireplace (for breakfast, dinner, lounging and parties) and 7 guest rooms. We were welcomed by Janis, the super friendly manager of the place, and directed to the bridal suite. On the terrain there is a pond with a sauna house next to it, and a rabbit run. But be careful if you bring your dog. One of the rabbits once went into a shock when a dog jumped in the run, and played dead for some minutes. If you keep your dog from shocking the rabbits, he’s more than welcome to stay and run around.
We had a great night, with a surprise birthday cake and Rigas Sampanietis after the made to order dinner and a wonderful pancake breakfast, before going on the road again to Liepaja. The Sarnate guest house is definitely worth a stay if you’re in the neighborhood.
That’s it for now; I’ll tell you about Liepaja another time.
Warm wishes from a still very wintery (-15 degrees at the end of February!) Riga,