About Latvia 2014

Dear followers!

You will be soon able to follow me on my new project, starting on 1st September 2015.

I will cross again this wonderfull country but in a different way and with a new purpose.

Discover this new exiting adventure here:


the end

Today, Wednesday 26 February, I am at only 14km from the Russian border. Tomorrow afternoon I shall reach the arrival point around 3PM.

Local TV will be waiting for me for an interview and I will make my way back to Riga.

But I will publish the rest of my story until the last day. So, stay connected. I will also post more photos as I will have access to a computer in Riga.
Today was sunny and so will be tomorrow.


Dampness was the word for the day. It didn't rain, but the air was filled with humidity.
After 10 km, I reached an asphalted road. But after a short distance I had to leave it for my daily doze of mud and puddles.
The forest was there, beautiful, feet in  a  green moss carpet, head in the mist.

The day gets colder. The sky was starting to brighten up and the light was always changing, offering me amazing contrast. A delight for photography.
It took me quite a long time to reach Viesite. Again, I had to go out of path, guessing my way, trusting my sens of orientation and using the compass.
This part of Latvia is completely covered by forest. I only saw 2 timber men working with heavy machines. I guess they didn't even notice me.
I finally reached Viesite, it was almost dark. I was myself surprised to see the white panel written in black characters that was naming the village. I walked faster than I thought but was exhausted.
Where to stay now? Since I had to gave up the tent and all the equipment that would allow me to make a shelter, I had to find a place where to spend the night everyday.
Thus, everyday around 5PM, I look for a house that would welcomed me.
I had just past the panel indicating Viesite, when a man addressed to me. He was walking his dogs.
I explained him who I was and what I was doing. He said to me that he could help me but that early morning he had to go to work.
That was fine for me. He was preparing crepes, exactly as we french do it. I was then welcomed by a familiar odour.
His name is Guntars. He lives here alone since he has divorced. But this night, his son Samuel was there. He had missed his bus back home where he lives with his mum, so he had to spend the night at dad's place.
So far, I met in Latvia great people. But Guntars has something more. He his a true good man. Not only kind, helpful, welcoming. He is a real loving person.
"Eyes are the mirror of the soul" said Oscar Wilde. His eyes were not lying.
We had interesting conversation. I regret that my Russian is not better. Because of it I missed many conversations.
However, so far, it made all those meeting possible. 80% of Latvian can speak Russian.
This has been at many times, the subject of my talk with the people I met.
In 2012, Latvia had a referendum initiated by Russian speakers to officially recognise Russian as the second official language. The result was a clear NO.
I personally thought it would have been a good thing. A way to pacify the rather tense relations with the neighbour and former invader.
I was thinking as a convinced European. I consider myself as a European from France. At school we where taught German, and it seems a good idea to share as many things as possible to avoid conflict.
In the EU, we don't  impose to any European citizen who choose to live in other EU country that its own, to embrace the culture and language ( even if at some extend, language become compulsory for practical reason). We only expect them to follow the country's laws and customs. As for immigrant, we expect them to follow the same rules, but they are free to follow their traditions if those ones are not infringing the law.
But for Latvians, it is another story. The referendum initiated by pro-Russian was, in fact, to impose Russian views and to avoid, for a marginal group of people to integrate themselves. Those people are rejecting Latvian culture and identity. They do not accept the Independence of Latvia and wish it to continue to be a satellite of Russia (Ukraine should soon face the same problem in Crimea).
If they had won a yes, then everything would had to be in the two languages. Therefor, they would have not been under any obligation to learn Latvian language anymore or to support Latvian culture.
One must understand that Latvia is a small country and that out of Latvia nobody speaks Latvian. Under soviet occupation, they were not allow to live according to their traditions. They were forced to learn Russian and to embrace the the uniformed official culture.
Now that they are free and protected by EU, they want to exist as an independent country with its own culture, history, customs and language.
Early morning, we all left the house. Samuel to school, Guntars to work, and me to Preili.


into the woods

I left Krasni under the rain. I like walking under rain. It's like for any any other weather conditions, one must have the right equipment.
 My mountain boots are waterproof. In addition I'm wearing mountain expedition gaiters, waterproof too, which allow me to walk in mud and water.
On top, I'm wearing a plastic "poncho" that covers the bag and myself down to the knees. Very efficient, but after few minutes you feel like in a sauna. At the end, you end up sweating and wet as if drenched by rain, but the bag is kept dry.
When wearing this poncho, i never wear anything else than a t-shirt underneath. So, when i stop, I just have to change t-shirt and don't get cold this way.
Krasni is located by an asphalt road. After 100 metres I turned left and took a path that was a very straight line of 5 km. A mix of melted snow and mud. At sight it seems not far, but realising that to reach this point you can clearly see will take you one our makes you think of the scale of time.
We leave in a world where everything must go fast. Fast train, fast connection, fast delivery...
 People don't understand why I walk. For them what I am doing is "extraordinary".  Walking seems unreal, while it is something very natural to all of us.
But walking takes time. Nowadays, taking its time is a real luxury. If time is money, the more you take, the richer you should get.
I left this road to take a smaller path entering into the forest. I was about to walk 30km in only forest.
The GPS is set to show even the smallest path. At a crossroad, it shows three ways, one north, one south and mine, east.
The problem is that my path which was indicated by the GPS was not there. As sometimes the satellite can only track you at 10 or 20 metres around you real location, I decided to go  and find this path by zigzagging. Nothing.
I ought to go east. The other ways were not leading me to any other paths I could joined and get back my direction.
Only one solution, the old way of navigating, the compass.
I took the map out of my bag, set up my direction and determined my azimuths. Compass in one hand, GPS in other, I made my way through trees and bushes.
Obviously, off road navigation is slower and made difficult by many obstacles.
After 4 km, I found myself on something that was looking like an former path. I was back on the path primly indicated by GPS. An abandoned path one could hardly distinguish.
I walked like this until night came. It has been raining all day and I was starting to feel pain in my shoulders and feet, it was time to find a shelter for the night.
The GPS shows all constructions on map. But it doesn't say id there are still inhabited our simple ruins. Nor far was one, but it turned out being a collapsed old barn.
The nearest other houses were at 1.5km, so I decided to take my chance there. As it was by the banks of river Viesite, I thought that it could be a farm.
I found them a 3 storey house, soviet style, and 2 huge barns. The property seemed to be empty, no dog, no smoke, no light.
I didn't like this place and didn't bother enquiring if someone was there. 100 meters from there, I saw smoke coming out of trees. There must be living people.
I took the path that leading me to a big barn. On the left was an empty house, but  as I was getting round the barn, appeared two dogs, of which a huge one, closely followed by a woman and a young boy.
They were very surprised to see someone like me, there in the dark.
The lady told me later that she had an apparition when seeing me: here come Jesus Christ!
Well, imagine me, with long hairs and beard, a front lamp making an halo over my head, that might looks like an apparition.
But this night, it was them to make miracles.
The lady's name was Vesma, her grandson Lukas.
She lives her with her husband Antons. They breed organic rabbits.
The farm is ideally located, the place is called Jaunpates. It is surrounded by trees and has a lake few steps away. They suggested me that I should come back here during summer. I wont forget the proposition.
When I explained to Vesma what I was doing here, she spontaneously took me by the arm and brought me in. They were very welcomed.
They were concern about my safety in those wood, for it is a place where wolves lives. Unfortunately, I didn't see any. But I noticed foot prints. Wolf make a specific foot print that differs from dog. They are thinner and longer and the claws are all directed ahead. Of course, I'm not a specialist, but badger, deer and wild boar foot prints all around made me think it was a wolf hunting pray
Once more, they served me home made product. I had a shower and good rest.
In the morning i made a tour of the farm, took some photos of lovely little baby rabbits and it was time to leave. I would have liked to spend more time with those gentle people, but they had things to do and me, still a long way to walk


Barbele to Viesite

From the tiny village of Barbele, I made my way to Viesite on a muddy path that was leading me to the forest. The GPS never tells you what the road will look like. As it was raining with a temperature of 2 degrees I was expecting to go on mud and puddles...  all day long.

I was going for some 25km to stop for the night in a small place called Krasti. It is located on the bank of river Memele, which is the border line between Latvia and Lithuania.
The trip was easy despite all the mud, and even very pleasant because of the scenery. It was partly in forest or prairies. Regularly, I had to cross lovely little hamlets. Again, numerous splendid wooden houses made me stop for a photo.
Climbing over the little hill that was leading to a remote place called Staci, I found a woman working at her daily tasks.
I introduced myself and she recognized me from the Bauska's news paper which made an article about me.

She asked me to sit on a bench that was along the wall, went inside her home and came back few minutes later with a full plastic bag of apples and a big dried sausage!
At first, I was concerned about the weight of this unexpected goods, but it was impossible to refuse such gift. Believe me, even days after I remember the taste of the home made sausage, and the sweetness of those apples which were a blessing when having a break.
Soon after this place, I entered the forest and was attacked by three wild dogs.

I was warned by people about those many wild dogs roving the country.

In fact, it this was the second attack I had to deal with. The first was on the way to Elija.

As I was passing a farm, a big white dog swooped down on me. It was totally enraged and made all possible moves to bite me.
I had many dogs, big ones, and I know how to deal with them.

The most important is to show confidence. If you are scared, the dog will feel it. Never turn your back and always stare at it. Keep calm, and show some aggressiveness too.

But this dog was not about to let it go that easily. So, as the best defense is attack, I let it come to me and at the right moment I stroke him in the mouth with my heavy mountain shoes. It didn't ask for more and flew away.
With 3 dogs, it's another business. They attack you from all sides. The key is to spot the leader. As in any pack, there is a dominant.

I quickly grabbed a branch on the floor and used it to keep them away. I was always keeping eyes contact with the dominant and walked backward turning on myself to have them all on sight. I is how I managed to go away without injuries.
I arrived in Krasti in darkness. There, was a lady, Annija, loading her car by her house. I went to see her. She was speaking a little bit English, so she called her 17 years old daughter Anna, who was speaking a better English.

I asked her for a place where I could sleep. She called her husband. He had heard about me on radio, and proposed me to stay in a house he has, where is brother Aivars lives.

They offered me some drinks and snacks, and we had a little talk.
Annija is teaching Russian and Anna dreams of going to live in California. I wish her to realise her dream.
Annija proposed to drive me there because of my impressive big bag. In fact, it was just 70 meters away.

Aivars is unemployed, has many men in Latvia. He lives here in quite modest conditions.
He is in the forties, very gentle and has a beautiful smile. We drank tea, talked a bit, looked at my maps to see where I've been and going.

Aivars was listening the radio, mainly Latvian song. It was delightful. Latvian language is very beautiful when singing. I really enjoyed it and wish I had knew who those singers were.
We were already sleeping when around midnight, a man walked into the house. The man was obviously drunk. It was a friend of Aivars, who has, as it seemed, its habits  there.
I guess he was as surprised as me to see me there.

For some 2 hours, he questioned me about my trip, but couldn't believe I was doing it and for what reason.
After he suddenly felt asleep on the table, Aivars had him to leave. But in the very morning, he appeared again with bread and sausages.

Once more, he tried to understand why I was doing this.

After breakfast, I left them. They were both standing on the front door landing, watching me walking my way, wrapped in my rain clothes.
From there, I walked 5 kilometres on a sandy and muddy road. At the end of that road I entered the forest for what was to be a very hard day.



Right after Vecsaule, a wide sandy ribbon goes through a majestic forest. This is the main road to Barbele.

Latvian territory is covered at 55% by forest. Half of it is state owned and the other half is private.

The dominant trees in the forests are coniferous, pine and spruce. The rest of the territory is covered by deciduous stands, mostly of birch, aspen and common alder. There are small stands of hardwood trees (oaks, ashes) and grey alder.

As I was seating on a bench at a bus stop taking care of my blisters, a car stopped and a young woman asked me if I would fancy a cup of hot tea. It was pretty chill and as I never refuse anything to people who show kindness, I said yes.

Within five minutes driving we arrived at what seemed to be a farmland. There were some houses, barns and surprisingly a church made of red bricks.

My kind hosts were Kalvis, his wife Lelde, little Kalle and two dogs. They live in a beautiful yellow house they are refurbishing.
We had herbal tea made from the garden's harvest, honey from the farm next door. Later Lelde cooked some tasty rice with vegetables.
Kalvis is musician at the National Opera. But at present he is enjoying parental leave to look after little Kalle. Lelde is a teacher and her hobby is pottery. She makes at home all kind of kitchen utensils with her own design. You can visit her page here
As time always passes quickly in good company, evening came and they offered me to stay there overnight.
I had a very pleasant time talking with them. Lelde is fluent in English and Kalvis has a good knowledge too.
This young couple is willing to build for themselves and family a high quality life by choosing to live in country side, growing organic food and living at their pace.
In the morning, going my way in a very good mood, I was totally unaware of the rather peculiar two days I was about to face.


Bauska to Barbele

Breakfast eaten, I made my way to Barbele. I was still walking on the road when the GPS indicated some kind of shortcut.
Few meters saved always seems good to take. It was leading to a sand path, which I took. But after less than two kilometers it turned out  being ice. As I had not my crampons with me anymore I made my way very slowly.
Then mud replaced the ice. Each step was harder than the previous. I couldn't continue this way, I ought to get back on the asphalted road.

The shortest way was to cross a field for about 600 meters. The field was like a sponge. For each step, my shoes were sucked up some 15cm in the ground. I some point I felt I could stay stuck their.

Pulling my shoes out of mud was made even more difficult by the weight of the accumulated mud around the shoes. What a release when I finally reach the asphalt, and what a waste of energy and time.

Unfortunately, in the process blisters had formed on my heels, and today I still suffer from them despite great care to cure them.
As always, and as a lesson, the shortest way is not always the fastest. But it seems that we always reproduce the same mistakes.
"Experience is the name men give to their mistakes".


to be continued

Few kilometers after Eleja, I was warmly welcomed at Maris' place. Maris runs with his wife a small factory that produced all kind of wood utensils for cooking, as well as chairs, tables... and anything you need for sauna, from buckets, bath thumb to a complete sauna.
There work some 10 employees, all hand crafted people.

Again, no need to tell you how kind were those people. I spent few hours talking with Maris' wife, had home made tasty food and after a shower a good sleep.

On my way to Bauska, I had the pleasure to meet Samanta and her grandma.
Samanta is a 14 years old girl, found of piano, who already speaks a good english. She walked me the the most famous castle in Latvia, the Versailles of Latvia, Rundale.

I spent not much time in the castle, no time to afford a complete visit, a good reason to come back.
Arrived in Bauska, I went to local supermarket to get some stuff.

Bauska has a medieval castle, the type of fortified walls with towers. Again, no time to visit it.
I walk some 8 km more and came the time to find a resting place. I found what was looking like a little village. In fact it was a "summer village". Plenty empty cottages where people only come on vacations. But I saw an house with smoke come out of the chimney. There was definitely someone living there.
Indeed, a couple of retired people. I knock at the door and a little woman came from the side of the house with a beautiful smile on her face. Her name was Stacija.
As most of people here she was speaking Russian. And as most people too, she was amazed about my trip, and the size of my bag. It is indeed very big and heavy.
She lives here with her husband, a very nice man. As my Russian is not yet perfect, he was speaking very slowly and clearly.
Stacija prepared us a soup made of local products, meat, black bread and butter.  Nothing taste lime home made food, prepared with your own vegetables.
In there house, a lovely cottage made of big logs, they have a traditional Latvian sauna. When she ask me if I would like a sauna now, you can imagine how happy I was. My muscles were highly demanding it.
Traditional Latvian sauna involves beating your skin with birch tree branches, to stimulate blood flow. Very efficient. After sauna, I felt very sleepy and it didn't take long to fall asleep



Sorry for not posting anything untill now. I use a tablet for everything. I can have access to internet and even download my photos from the camera, which mean that I can easely post some photos here.
But I have lost, or perhaps forgotten it somewhere. So, now I only have a smart phone. Calling an electronic device "smart" is a bit over exagerated. Ok, it' no more juste a phone, but in anycases, it only does what it is programed for. "Those who call a spade a spade should be forced to use it".
I would rather call it a mini computer with limited abilities, or at present maybe my best traveller friend.
So, back to my adventures.
After a cold nigh, I woke up with the walls of tent frozen. The inner tent was sparkling white, due to condensation. It made me feel like those houses you see in Siberia where extremely low temperatures create a layer of ice inside poorly heated houses.
After I packed my stuff, I get back on the river. As it was cold, a new but thin layer of ice has formed over the thick one, creating a space filled with water here between. Waking was made harder for the thin layer was cracking under my steps and has the ice was too thin, the pulka wouldn'd slide on it but worked as an ice breaker.
This river was narrower the the Balta river and was not frozen on all its surface. At some point, I had to jump on from drifting big ice blocks to another and then reach hard ice. I felt like a white bear on the ice-floe.
I even felt once through the ice, up to the hips, but I was fortunate enough that the pulka stayed on ice.
Later, the river was fully open due to strong stream. The only passagr was then hanging ice narrow line created by the expansion of water during the freezing process. The only thing was that there were many broken trees kept by the ice, so I had to make my way throigh using my saw and hatchet. It became obvious that I wont be able to continue like this, to tirering and far too dangerous.
The map was showind a bridge over the river on the road from Balta to Kaleti. I decided that this would be my exiting point from the river.
Just buy the bridge, I found some cottages and a farm. I thought that the barne would be a great place for the night and went to ask permission to the owner.
There lives Arvis and his familly, his wife Linda, cute little Gustav and the grandmother.
There were sharing a meal with relatives, Anits, Arita, Edgars and Liga.
As I would expect it from a 30 ysars old man, Arvis was speaking a perfect english and his wife Linda too.
i explaned him what I was doing in Latvia and ask for permission to sleep in the barn.
Insteed, they ofer me to stay in Gustav room and invited me to eat local farm product and to drink an amazing home made apple juice.
Talking with Arvis was a pleasure. He is the futur of Latvia. A very hard working man with a desire to succeed here, in his country. It would have been easier for him to go and get better salary or life abroad, in Germany or Ireland, but he believes in the potential of Latvia. But as he said, "to win the lottery you must at least go and buy the ticket". Nothing comes for free, it involves will and hard work.
Arvis is breeding meat cows, some 40 heads. I told me that he desperatly need someone to belp him, for he also manage a forest. But he can't find anyone who wants to work hard for less than 300€ per month in such a remote (minimum salary here; while it is 1500€ in France and 1800€ in Luxembourg not far from where I live).
But all this doesn't anihilate his enthousiam, and I'm sure he will succeed.
The next day, a big decision has to be taken. No snow and no practicable rivers or roads for pulling the pulka offered me two alternatives: postponed my expedition to another time, or continue on foot.
Arvis encouraged me to continue on foot, and this is what I am doing now.
Nevertheless, it is impossible for me to cross through fields and forest for the most direct lines.
It is all muddy, unpracticable. I can only walk on roads which make the trip much longer. Then I'm walking an average of 26/27 km per day. I cant make more because of my much too heavy bag, over 25kg, bag that is not made for hikking.
You can imagine that my shouders are suffering and that, at the end of day I am exhausted.
Tonight, I am 8 km after Bauska.
Walking on asphalted roads is heasy, hard and clean surface. You get a good pace.
Of course, it involves more caution due to traffic. However, there is not so much cars.
Nevertheless, I have noticed some interesting behaviour amongs categories of drivers.
Everybody knows that when walking on road, one must walk on left, facing the traffic. And drivers are supposed to notice you and make a swerve, a gap between you and their cars.
So, This as if course no scientific bacground, it is just my observation.
All women make a swerve. Men with women on board make a swerve.
Men alone don't do it often, and men with men on board never do (espacially if in big German 4X4)😊
You can make up your own conclusion.
Important: all lorry drivers are very cautious and I greatly thank them for that.
So far, I have only walked through "field landscape", huge crops fields, no forest, sometimes looking like Mongolian steppe The Zemgale region is mainly agricultural. The next, Latgale, will be the wildest part.
If landscape was a bit always similar, I made great encounter with "humans", highly hospitable people, who all take care of me as a member of their family.
I'll tell more later. Bear in mind that I can't write easely everyday.
See you, and thanks for following me😊


Plan B

As there is no way I can continue with the pulka, I have decided to pursue on foot. I have selected the most necessary things and made up one bag that I will carry on my back. I gave up the tent (5kg), and one camera with the 500mm tele-zoom (6kg) plus many other items and clothes.
I regret to have to give up the tele-zoom for I wont be able to take animals photographies, but weight matters now. I estimate my bag being around 20kg, still.
I was very fortunate to meet Arvis, a young farmer in Maskale, few km before Kaleti. He agreed to keep my stuff.
I will tell you more about this man and how he greatly helped me.


first 2 days

As I said, I went to see those fishermen on the canal, it was completely frozen, more than 40cm. The fact is that the previous weeks before my departure it was -20°C, and they had 30cm of snow. I could speak few words in Russian with them, and I was surprised to see that most fishermen and women were from Lithuania.

 Some of them even stay on the river overnight. It is like a pilgrimage for them. Fish is always bigger in your neighbour's pond:-)

Back to  the hotel, I had an interview with a journalist from a local news paper. In the morning of my departure I met with other journalist from TV Kurzeme. They wanted to make a small reportage on me and they drove me near Bernati and we walked into the forest to the sea for filming and interview. Once the interview finished, it was time for me to start my trip.

 I first walked on the icy beach to what the GPS said to be the eastern point of Latvia. I guess that this is approximate, but anyway, it was from there I would start. I carry with me some 40kg of equipments and 2 cameras + lenses. All this pulled on a "pulka".
 Pulling on ice is very easy, you hardly feel the weight, it is the best way to travel on snow and you can carry more load than in a back bag. Leaving the shore I head into the forest.
There, there was enough snow and it comes to my mind that this trip will be as expected. But things shortly turned to what I was fearing most. The more I was walking through fields,the less snow on ground to a point that I had to pull on freshly ploughed ground.  
It became obvious that all the snow melted due to high temperatures this week. After 10 km I was simply pulling on sand or tarmac.

 That was exhausting. Just after Nica, I decided to stop for the night. It was already getting dark so I went to a farm and ask if I could mount my tent on their garden, a flat ground is always bringing you some comfort. They kindly agree and offered me coffee. During the night strong wind started to blow with light rain shower. The wind was very strong and I wondered if the tent would bare it. It did.

In the morning, I had to decide what to do. There were no ways I could pull the sledge on road without snow. To damaging for the pulka and to tiring for me. Looking at the map, I saw that the Bartuva river was flowing near.

 Remembering those fishermen on ice on that very river, I hoped I could practice it. I have never did this before, and was well aware of the danger involved. But I had to make a move, my expedition couldn't turn short that quickly.

 The river was indeed deeply frozen on most of its surface. At beginning I walked with great care, testing the ice, like walking on eggs. But I quickly get more confidence and was walking at a very good pace, always reading the ice for thinner part. For even with a thick 20 cm of ice, some part were totally open showing the mighty river flowing underneath. You don't want to fall there, the current would snatch you down under the ice.

 Of course, following a river make the way longer than cutting straight through fields and forest. I was hoping to go to Kaleti. Unfortunately, river Bartava goes south to near Lithuania. The map showed a smaller river going north north-east, few kilometers after the village of Barta and going to a place called Krute. There is a bridge for the road going to Kaleti. I took that river.

The more I was going, the narrower the river became. As night was about to fall, I looked for the best place to set up my tent on the bank. I made a fire, dried my glooves, put some sausages to cook and went to sleep. Walking on the river gave me a good taste of the wild.

 It was very beautiful to see how ice is wrapping any stones or trees with a crystal jewel box. As water is expending when freezing, huge ice blocks were hanging far above the river/ice level along the river banks. There one could see how thick is the ice, and also how pure is the water inside with its bluish reflection.


Leaving from the sea shore was very promising. The beach is simply covered by a thick layer of ice.
I started to walk into the forest and there was snow. I really thought that my trip was to be as expected.
Out of forest, I headed into a field. Snow layer was already thinner, and it turned at that all snow had melted. I've been told that last week were 30cm there. Now, it's wet grass and mud.
I had to walk some 30 km on icy river, that was dangerous, and I felt once in water. Now the river goes to Lithuania, I have to leave it.
I have to take an hard decision. Shall I cancel my trip? I need snow to pull the pulka and my 40 kg equipment. What to do.

I will see today for alternative way. Keep you inform.



Fortunatly, there is enough snow for my expedition. If temperatures stay around zero or under, everything will be perfect.

Flying over the country yesterday gave me a good spot on snow condition. The whole country is covered by snow, not as usual for this period, but far enough for me.




I am now in Liepaja. The bus trip was fine, sunny day, beautiful country side to watch. Arrived in Liepaja, I met Linda at the tram station. She works here as translator, so we exchanged few words in French and she helped me with directions. Thank you Linda.

Now I'm watching TV, freestyle snowboard!!! For those who don't know it yet, snowboard is my religion:-) I though that I would miss all the Olympics Games in Sochi, especially snowboard, but lucky me, it's today! What a great thing I postponed my departure to tomorrow, there must be a god for snowboarders. If there are any "riders" reading me, they'll understand :-)

Later, I will go for a walk in the city. I saw people fishing on the icy canal, I will ask for some good fishing tips.

Riga es tevi milu

Here I am, in Riga. I arrived yesterday, welcomed by a beautiful sunny day.
Once more, my first impression was "I feel like home"! I know this city very well, I spent so much time here already and everytime I come here it's like meeting with your latest dearest lover.
I left my hotel this morning to take a coach to Liepaja. As I was heading to the bus stop, pulling my pulka on Riga's frozen pavment along the road, I felt like an alien.
 At some point I had to cross the road, so I engaged on the zebra-crossing and cars spontaneously stopped to let me go.
I was surprised, for I remember a time were Latvian drivers were "kings of the road" and had no consideration for pedestrians. But things are changing.
I also feel that the country is changing, and changing for the better. People are more friendly , everwhere, and so helpful!
Like yesterday for example, a took a city bus and asked the driver if the bus was stopping at some stop. The man, close to 60 I guess, made all efforts to speak in english to me, such nice man. I remember a time when you had to buy tickets to ladies in buses or tramways (20 cents Lat!!); those old ladies were not talking to you, they even had no face expression, acting like machines.
And Vladimir, whom I meet while waiting at the bus stop, who helped me to load my bags into the bus and even took me to the main bus station.
And what to say about all of you who said that on my way I can call at their place to share a cup of tea!
Damn, how long it will take me to cross the country if I stop at all those places!

Many thanks to all of you, it's good to feel human warmth.


Departure date change!!!

I have now decided to start on the 7th of February, and not on 6 as previously announced. This is mainly due to organisation matters.

I will stay in Riga on 5th at the Wellton Elephant Hotel, will go to Liepaja on 6 morning and will stay overnight at the Liva Hotel.

Early morning on the 7th I will reach the departure point and start my trip.

Theoretical Route Plan

starting point:  56°21'14.15"N;  20°58'16.34"E

day 1: sea shore to Reiņugals (11 km)

day 2: Reiņugals to Kalēti (26 km) [37 km]

day 3: Kalēti toVaiņode (27 km) [64]

day 4: Vaiņode to Nīgrande (20 km) [84 km]

day 5: Nīgrande to Bruzilas (26 km) [110 km]

day 6: Bruzilas to Auce (26 km) [136 km]

day 7: Auce to Medne (22 km) [158 km]

day 8: Medne to Ziedkalne (23km) [181 km]

day 9: Ziedkalne to Bērvircava (20 km) [201 km]

day 10: Bērvircava to Rundāles (20 km) [241 km]

day 11: Rundāles to Bauska (12 km) [233km]

day 12: Bauska to Ozolaine (18 km) [251 km]

day 13: Ozolaine to Krieviņi (23 km) [274 km]

day 14: Krieviņi to Lāči (26 km) [300 km]

day 15: Lāči to Varnava (24 km) [324 km]

day 16: Varnava to Vagulāni (24 km) [348]

day 17: Vagulāni to Livani (19 km) [367 km]

day 18: Livali to Sutri (25 km) [392 km]

day 19: Sutri to Preiļi (13 km) [405 km]

day 20: Preiļi to Feimaņi (22 km) [427 km]

day 21: Feimaņi to Lipuški (24 km) [451 km]

day 22: Lipuški to Rundēni (25 km)  [476 km]

day 23: Rundēni to Pasiene (24 km) [500]

day 24: Pasiene to arrival (7 km) [507]

arrival point:  56°16'36.80"N;  28°14'28.96"E


Tomorrow I will fly to Riga, then go to Liepaja city. I will sleep there overnight and in the morning will head to the starting point.

It was continuously snowing for the last two days, but unfortunately not significantly enough. Nevertheless, this should allow me to pull the pulka.

Temperatures are rising too, and according to forecast they should go over zero next week, close to 3°C. The consequence of this being that any precipitations might turn to rain instead of snow; it will all depends on low pressure and  the movement of cold air mass coming from north.

A monthly forecast for February is showing lower temperatures until March, reaching not less than -10°C and few days of snow falls.

Thing are not as expected, since usually Latvia is covered by snow at this period, with very low temperatures. It is normal to see people  fishing on lakes by making holes in thick ice layer.

I was relying on those very low temperatures to be able to cross rivers on ice. Now I have to re-examine the route I planned so to find bridges.

This years seems to have no winter. Over average temperatures are showing everywhere in Europe, leading to floods in many countries. Ski resorts in some area are dramatically missing snow or simply did not open at all.

Does global warming anything to do with this? Let's wait and see to what conclusions our experts will come.

As for me, it won't stop me!