Latvia is nice… when you are not cycling !

So far in our cycling trip, Latvia has been the most challenging country for us. You either cycle on main roads which are very busy, or you decide to use alternative roads but in exchange you get pebbles and sandy roads, sometimes used by truck drivers talking on the phone who do not slow down. So… the choice is not that easy! Sandy roads are REALLY complicated for heavy cyclists … more than the muddy roads in Russia, believe it or not … so you can imagine how hard it has been for us!

When we were off the bicycle we enjoyed the country and the people

Riga, the capital, is relatively huge, with over one third of the population living in there. We spent a couple of days just strolling through the old centre and learning about Art Nouveau of which Riga is one of the biggest and most magnificent witness.

There we visited the former KGB headquarters which was impactful to us. It is where they quickly established a large and oppressive apparatus that searched for and physically eliminated opponents and suspected opponents of the Bolshevik regime. Thousand of people suddenly disappeared and were imprisoned, interrogated and killed in that building. In case they imprisoned someone who was not a clear opponent to the regime, they investigated to find any reason to do so, for example one was imprisoned because he had been a boy scout, or because his father was German, etc. It reminded us that it happened quite recently and that we should all learn about history and not repeat it again. But that’s another story …

The countryside, as mentioned previously, is very rural. The population density is quite low … maybe the reason why there are not than many good roads. Knowing that Russians are the largest ethnic minority in Latvia, representing 34% in 1989 at the end of the Soviet occupation, and still representing 25% up to last year, we can feel 1) that Russians are still very present in every aspect of Latvian life, especially in the East and 2) that there is still a conflict of cultures between Latvians and Russians.

Latvians are really friendly, open-minded and have a lot to share with you. We met nice people everywhere. Aiga, Girts, Alex and Liga shared a lot with us about their culture and they included us in their day-to-day activities. Just as an example, we went swimming in a cold lake, and this enabled us to start this new habit of swimming anywhere (river, lake, canal, etc.) after a hot cycling day. We enjoyed every moment of it! We even tried the unique Black Balsam, which secret’s recipe is known by one man only and which received 30 international awards. As you can tell by the picture this liquor made us feel very comfortable!

To sum it up, we definitely recommend visiting Latvia (not just Riga) but it’s highly advisable to leave your bicycle at home !

We also have an amazing YouTube channel with lots of different videos (in lots of different styles) from the road; 421adventure on YouTube

And please don’t forget that part of our adventure consists of fundraising and raising awareness for two incredible NGOs so please help us to spread the word and, of course, if you’re feeling generous, donate here; DONATE

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