Biking through the forest, Palanga seaside town and Latvian port of Liepaja
Walked briefly around Klaipėda which was previously a German town called Memmel. It still looks Northern Germanic with a theatre and town hall in the centre. There were also contrasting styles with new modern high rises next to the older buildings.
Had a fine bike ride through the forest, many flowers and grasses were blooming next to the path. We stopped at a large 19c house that had been converted into an amber museum, with excellent displays explaining how amber is formed from the resin of the pine trees that grew here 40 million years ago. The resin can drop as bark, icicles or drops and often trapped insects. There were fine pieces with all kinds of insects and plants trapped; there was also a good section about how amber had been used in trade and jewellery since the Bronze Age. There was a nice shop at the end and I did not have enough time there but I bought a casual necklace with small stones and bracelets for my nieces and a key ring for Amber.
Palanga is a beach resort and lots of people were holidaying there and stalls selling food and drink. There was a fine pier that one could walk out onto for some bracing air. I met the two Dutch women Netty and Magda out there and we agreed on the pleasure of walking out on a simple pier without any stalls.
We had a delayed journey to Liepaja because there were long sections of the road closed off with very little road work happening.
We had our town walk at the end of the afternoon; Liepaja is a small nondescript town with no real centre. There are restored buildings by the harbour and I saw a diplomatic car pulling up. I wonder what it’s like to be sent to Latvia as a diplomat, rather limiting I suspect. We stayed in another modern hotel but close enough to walk back into town which I did. I had supper in a restaurant where I was served by a bar man with a blonde ponytail and people were sitting out under a tent in the garden and American rock music was playing so I heard lyrics about the absence of rain in California which is definitely not the case here
First impressions of Latvia, the people look poorer, but that may be because we are outside Riga. It is also strange that the languages are not mutually comprehensible, and Latvians often have to use Russian to speak to Lithuanians. The roads are also narrower and in worse condition than Lithuania