lauantai 24. helmikuuta 2018

The skiing holiday almost like in the old days

When I was a kid I used to go to my granny’s place for  the winter holiday. He used to live in the countryside in Eastern Finland. The landscape consists of lots of forests and the villages with fields on hills. We used to ski through the fields and make our own ”downhill skiing centre”.

This year my ”travel agency” run by my spouse decided to go to a tiny Latvian town  Sigulda. We had been there in the summertime and fell in love with its landscape. It is an old holiday town for the upper class, including even the Russian tsar Alexander the third. The river Gauja splits the landscape with rather a steep valley making it look a bit like German river valleys. In the Soviet time a full scale sled track has been built on the slope of the valley – resulting some Olympic medals for Latvia in Pyeong Chang.

When my spouse ordered the trip I was a bit suspicious of the snow condition. At that time we had no snow even in Finland and Sigulda is much more in South. Luckily a Northern air flow took place and we had cold weather in both places, snow also included. 

So we took our car and drove it to a ferry and then straight through Estonia to Latvia. The trip is approximately as long as to my granny's place but in the opposite direction. For us Finns it is somewhat special to enter a country so near us where the language is totally strange to us – we do have some hints of languages of our neighboring countries Russia, Estonia, Sweden and Norway. We use to listen to Estonian radio stations as we travel there but in Latvia we decided to close the radio.

                                 At the lounge of the ferry

We had our hotel in the countryside near Sigulda. When we drove to the place the strong memories of my childhood came to my mind: The sunny field slope of the hills, the apple orchard in the same way my granny used to have…

As we had settled in we wondered where to ski… There is a skiing stadium with various Nordic skiing trails near the city. However we didn’t like the idea of skiing among the sporty and in many cases impatient fellow skiers. In Finland we can ski wherever it is possible, the yard areas of the homes excluded. Luckily we found out that the situation is almost the same in Latvia though there are much more Private place signs in the terrain.

So we could do our own ski trails like in my childhood! We started from the ice of the pond which luckily didn’t have any water over the ice which they often do, due to ice fishing and the little river at the end of the pond. Then we climbed to a field on the opposite side of the pond. The temperature was about 10 degrees below zero but as the sun was shining and there wasn’t any wind it didn’t feel cold at all. Our division of labor was I made the ski trail and she followed my trail. There was about fifteen centimeters of fresh snow but under it the snow was rather hard so we could make our trail totally without any restrictions. 

Actually, when we entered the forest area after the field we noticed the private sign. But maybe it was not for us Finns climbing from the pond…

Another field area was totally even. Or actually it wasn’t the snow was full of pits made by wild boars trying to find some grass under the snow. For skiing the pits caused no difficulties, the skis would slide smoothly over them.

                                       The compulsory after ski

The nights were very cold resulting wonderful frosty trees in the mornings

We did the skiing trips during the both two whole days we were there. The hotel also had a small spa so we enjoyed some of its activities: Sauna, outdoor Jacuzzi, massage and facial.  We dined in the hotel and some other places in the Sigulda recommended to us. The result was the best quality was in our Hotel.

We also drove a little round the area. There are three old castles on the banks of the river, the place have had a very high strategic importance in the old days. There also are lots of caves dug to the sandstone of the river valley. 

                               The river Gauja

In the city of the town you still can see the romantic buildings of the old noble days. The retail chains have conquered some areas of the Baltic states but in Sigulda you could see them only in the latest mall. Otherwise the products were mostly made in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland and sold with modest prices, in spite of rather high quality. 

Having the best pastry in Latvia, at least claimed to be the one  

The day of coming back was also nice and sunny.

We drove through the last area in Estonia we still haven't been. The town Karksi nuia (meaning don't worry) seemed to be just like the name suggest: The tower of the church is as skew as the tower of Pisa.

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