In contrast to Lithuania, Latvia was a surprise. The landscape again beautiful flat and green with a huge wide river running down the middle, all very pretty. The towns were the shocker, these are filled with the typical communist gray aging low rise tower blocks, very depressing and uninviting. At four o’clock when I typed motel into the GPS and was taken to this small town down the back roads between the low rises I got a decidedly uncomfortable feeling and even more uncomfortable looks from the occupants. So I decided to listen to my gut and high tail it out of there.
I found a main road and eventually a small motel owned by the nicest couple. They insisted I put my bike in their garden shed. This meant I had to ride right over their garden, I felt awful and asked if it was not ok to just park the bike behind the motel. ‘’Oh no, not safe” I was told, hmm ‘where the heck am I’, I thought, but the couple were very nice and the motel very clean.
In every small motel I stayed in the owners have always locked my bike away in the garage, garden shed or beer shed (Pity I don’t drink beer) and have all been so very different and interesting. From the very staunch Polish man who was not at all impressed that I was riding my bike alone and asked why then seemed to dismiss me as a freak and ignored me. The other polish motel owner was wonderful he kept on saying ‘oh mein gott’ after every question I answered. Are you biking alone – yes ‘oh mein gott’, where are you from – south Africa ‘oh mein gott’, where do you live – Switzerland ‘oh mein gott’, where are you going – Russia ‘oh mein gott’ (I thought if I said Singapore he might have a coronary) he was just lovely and when I only ate half my breakfast (enough to feed 6) he promptly scolded me and told me I need my vitamins.
Yet another reason I love to meet people when I travel and stay in camp sites or little B&Bs or motels.
I finally made it to Riga and its stunning nothing like any of the other towns I saw just beautiful.