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Sigulda, Latvia – Gauja National Park

Posted on 20 June 2012 by brett

Gauja National Park - Bobsleigh Track

Gauja National Park – Bobsleigh Track

What we read about the Latvian countryside, particularly Gauja National Park, sounded spectacular. A one hour bus ride east (from Riga) left us in Sigulda, the center of Gauja Park. The town was smaller than we excepted with only one street and a few local cafes. We met up with Kristjans, who we met through the local tourism office. He’s an 18 year old student, interested in learning about other cultures and wants to be a translator. He took us around to all the major sights in the area.

Bobsleigh Fitting

Bobsleigh Fitting

World renowned Bobsleigh track

Sigulda is known for housing the longest bobsleigh track in Europe. Russian and European teams (Germany/Austria) come every year to practice tobogganing, luge and bobsledding at this Olympic quality track. A steep decline from the track led us into the Gauja forest where we found beautiful trails, flowers, plant and bug life. Continue Reading

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Riga, Latvia…”The Paris of Eastern Europe”

Posted on 17 June 2012 by brett

Riga, Latvia

Storybook land of Riga, Latvia

Latvia, so close to Lithuania, yet so different. We spent our five days in Latvia between the capital city of Riga and the quiet countryside around Sigulda. Once our bus from the Curonian Spit crossed the border into Latvia, the Soviet influence prevailed, as we drove through several small Latvian towns. Riga felt like a world away from the atmosphere of Vilnius. While the capital’s old city streets were charming, their attempt to highlight the stunning Baroque architecture felt forced to please tourists. International chains such as TGI Fridays, hamburger and rib joints were prevalent…… replacing the precious local family run restaurants, cafes and beer joints we all love. To summarize, the old city felt very compact and lacked the culture and local life that we found in Vilnius. However, walking the streets did make you feel like you were in a storybook land. Continue Reading

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