Liepaja for capital!


The Baltic States, or Baltics, three interesting countries with a history, collection of art and plenty of nature to get lost in. Within this region, time can be spend worthy within the cultural mix of East and West. Before you know it, you might even compare the joy to the one on the popular beaches in Spain. Never, has a moment of regret appeared into my mind as soon as I set foot here. However, with Lithuania and Estonia providing my flavour of experience and exploring, I didn’t quite see the upbring of Latvia in this Baltic sandwich. It seemed to be an in between, a passing, nothing more. The city of cats, did not impress this dog-person. A land topped by its neighbours, an economy crushed by the Russians during occupation and a population with their hunting eyes on the job market in the West. North and South had it easier readjusting while Latvia sat with expensive Russian presents on the bottom of the sea. Nonetheless, a rise in tourism arrived. Latvia did their best to make it a country worth visiting. Walking through Liepaja, thinking I was again merely passing land to get to another, I witnessed said effort and, which might sound contradictory, they have succeeded. Not in ‘Drunk-British’ Riga, but here, where befuddled Russians and multilingual hobo’s roam the streets, locals are fleeing to find their gold mine and musical notes are paths, I saw a real piece of Latvia.

 “This apartment will be taken down soon. They have not thought about where all the people will live. I want to go to England and work there.”

In the most Western and third largest city of Latvia, where the wind was born, it is not hard to see in what state they were left when the Russian tanks departed. Tanks departed, Russians stayed. Too stubborn to learn a second language and too poor to benefit the economy, most wander around drinking till the morrow is upon them again. Or at least, that’s what I have been told. For what I know, the homeless community is an international one here. The government is participating too, by putting even more people on the pavement. “This apartment will be taken down soon. They have not thought about where all the people will live. I want to go to England and work there.” Words spoken by the Latvian around my age who had invited me in, after given permission from the lady of the house, the mother who had shied away. This man was my hero of the evening. The moon had surprised me with its pale light shining the way, as I grew weaker trying to find my safe haven of green for my Quechua home. Then he came along with his vehicle to offer me a ride. If that was not enough, he returned to the beach, where my tent had already risen, to offer me his extra room and dinner. After boiling three eggs, declining my modest two, he explained to me how the situation in his country was. Matiss told me he planned on going to the UK. Which is were he is, at this very moment.

Matiss had promised to drive me to the centre the next day, giving me the opportunity to wander around the town. The ladies at the desk of the Tourist Information Centre were kind enough to keep my backpack some company while I set off to follow the trail of music notes going passed the bearded feller greeting me and through town. It was touristic, yet not crawling with them opposed to Riga. Cultural, musical, artful, creative and beautiful. A few meaningful statues, such as the wind-blown lady staring out over the sea ever waiting for her lost man. You can find her from the gorgeous beach, that stretches far with many daily visitors yet it remains clean as a whizzle. An option of sitting on a beanbag watching the water with a cold one in your hand is one I welcomed openly. Besides, one does not simply enter Latvia and not take in the beach they are so proud of.

Walking back from the beach, right on time when the sun had baked me back to my well-known lobster tan, I made way to the gigantic drumset. Not only the Windy city I had found myself in, but the rock and roll capital. Soon, even Khaleesi will be jealous of all the titles that come with it. Losing the trail of notes, I visited a few churches and a massive market that led me to the note “Do”. Here was the Wall of Fame of Latvian musicians, which meant the end of my walk, with the afternoon coming close to an ending. With a smile, the ladies waved me off again, as I grabbed my backpack. Trying to find my way, I made friends with a group of homeless people, who showed me the directions upon my leave. In return I gave them my dinner. The rainy evening I spent in Nica, a small, poor town, with my tent up behind an abandoned apartment. Big chance it was still inhabited however. The night I kept being awakened by a strange sound. I could not comprehend the noise, but it was loud and close.  At this point, I still do not what it could have been.

The Charm of Liepaja is concealed in its special atmosphere. Perhaps a bit restrained and harsh, yet also noble and rebellious. Sometimes calm, sometimes swirling – like the sea washing the shores of Liepaja. Genuine and truthful – this is Liepaja.