WALES AWAY: Latvia Calling Part Five (12/09/23)

A day to decompress and chill after a hectic few days.

We had an early night after the game. If you can call 2:30am early. Some of the dirty stop outs in the gang were out till 5am. Disgraceful behaviour.

And why did we go to bed early? So we could dedicate the whole of our last day to sightseeing this amazing city.

Crawling out of bed post meridian, we finally get to eat in This Place Does Not Need a Name. It’s quieter than when we first tried it. A lot quieter.  But then it is Tuesday morning and a lot of Welsh fans are now heading home. We like to stay an extra day when we can: do not like travelling with a hangover.

The food in the place without a name is rather tasty. We have a green omelette and salad, so it’s reasonably healthy as well. Then we stroll through the town to the canal and jump on a little boat. It is a nice little wooden boat, it looks very retro, because it is. Originally built in 1953 for use on Lake Windermere,  it’s called the Lisbeth. There’s around a dozen of us on board, another Welsh couple and some Germans.

Initially we cruise through the park at a leisurely pace, watching others in canoes and splash cats and admiring the architecture along the green banks. There is no commentary or guide, we are left to guess what the various buildings are, but that’s fine. Commentary would have spoilt the chilled ambience of the scene,  for us and the couples relaxing on the shore.

We hadn’t done any research and had no idea where the boat would go. Soon we are chugging through a marina. Not many super yachts, but there is a faint whiff of money about the place.

Soon we are unexpectedly out on the enormous Duagava River. I say unexpected,  I’m sure the driver was expecting it, but we weren’t.

At over 1,000 km it’s the longest river in Latvia.  So long it actually starts in Russia.

All of a sudden commentary kicks in. Presumably because out on this big river it’s not going to disturb any landlubbers.

The war ships we spotted the other day are gone, and have been replaced by a cruise ship. We get the history of the five hundred year old castle for the third time in four days. It’s changed hands a few times as people have conquered the country, with Poles, Germans and Russians using it as the seat of power over the years. It is currently the home to the President of the Latvian Republic.

Earlier in the trip we tried, and failed, to get on a big boat with a bar and restaurant for a cruise.  This is much nicer though, it has an intimate and relaxed feel to it. And, given that the bigger boats would never get under the tunnels to the canal,  it has the advantage of travelling along both the river and the canal. Although,  I wouldn’t like to be on the river in stormy weather. It was quite choppy for a small boat.

As we eventually sail back to where we started, we cross paths with some pissed up Welsh fans running aground in a rowing boat that they are struggling – no, failing – to control.

Once back on shore we receive the news that Posh and Becks are awake and receiving visitors. We arrange to meet  them, along with third favourite son, in the 49th best pizza joint in this dimension. As usual,  the food is stunning.  I can’t comprehend how nice the food in the top forty eight must be.

Then we go for a bit of a lie down.

We get up around 10pm to go for one last wander and take some photos of the city at night. Some of the buildings I was hoping would be lit up, disappointingly were not. The Blackhead museum was though, and that is spectacular.  Then we wander down to the canal and find some fountains illuminated and I struggle to get to grips with the best camera settings to capture them.

And then one last mohito in our local pub, The Colonel. We have spent a lot of time there because it is next to our apartment,  but I think it is the best pub we have been in.

Whilst the majority of Welsh fans have gone home there is still some hardcore hanging about. Some watch Scotland v England in a pub the other side of the square,  some are still riding around on hired electric scooters like loons at midnight.

The old town is less busy without the Red Wall in town,  but for a Tuesday night there are a lot of people around. Even the bloke going around selling etchings of me is still out and about. It’s chilled. A nice way to end the trip, but it feels like time to go home.