Friday, August 30, 2013

Baltic Roadtrip Day 1. Latvia Ethnographic Open Air Museum.


At the Latvia Ethnographic Open Air Museum.

Our grand Baltic driving adventure truly gets underway today! We had our final buffet breakfast at the Elizabete this morning. I'm going to miss them. All I can hope for is that the other places we'll be staying at can match the quality of what we've been enjoying here.


We handed our key to the receptionist, thanked her for all her assistance and bid her farewell.

Bro getting ready.  Our little black Hyundai is serving us well.

Our final destination today would be Valmiera but we had a couple of stops along the way.  We headed out of town on the exact same road that Andris had taken us on to get to Gauja National Park. That's because our first destination of the day was the Latvia Ethnographic Open Air Museum. We followed the road signs and in probably less than a half hour had arrived. Of course, we failed to check on when it would open but luckily we only had to wait about 10 minutes or so. Bro always handles the money on our trips - saves two people from having to carry around all the foreign currency. So, he gets to buy all our entry tickets :-)

Entrance to the Museum.  We're the first visitors to arrive.

Path leading from the ticket booth to the heart of the Museum.

We got our map at the ticket booth and one look at it and we realized the place was HUGE. Later I read, it's 83 hectares in size. I supposes you can walk the entire grounds but we had limited time so I left it up to Bro to decide which spots we would go to.

The first building we stepped inside was a tavern.

Our next building was an old church.  Doesn't look like one from the outside.

The Lutheran churches were interesting. I especially loved this one with its beautifully painted interior.

Very charming!

The dais.  I loved the two tone wood carving.

The altar.

The houses were clustered together into villages with each village representing a different native culture. Surprisingly, you could see the differences in both the exterior design of the structure as well as the layout and design of the interiors. Some were bright and cheerful on the inside while others were cramped and dark.  All were furnished with period pieces and several had people dressed in period costume working.

I loved the gardens as well. Of course, Bro noticed all the apple trees growing here and there.  In addition to homes, there were barns, churches, and even windmills.  Many of the buildings were closed so we could only see them from the outside.  We did enter a few that looked interesting.

The villages were located close together so we basically meandered from one to another while heading in a specific direction.  It was a picture perfect day for a walk in the woods - we couldn't ask for more ideal weather!  

We both took photos as we walked from village to village but unfortunately, I didn't mark down the villages we visited so I can't describe the photos.  In any event, here are some of the photos that Bro and I took on our stroll through the Museum.

















At one of the houses, there was a woman who was dressed in period costume. She was demonstrating her weaving skills. My guess is that the reeds she was using would have come from nearby waters. Of course, everything she was making was for sale but I was not in any mood to buy anything so I gently shook my head as she raised up one of her woven ornaments for me to take a closer look at.




The map was extremely helpful and the signage pretty good. Only a couple times did we do a turnaround as we had somehow gotten off path.

As I had anticipated, the place was far from being crowded. It was nice to be able to walk in the forest and not hear anything the sound of leaves rustling in the wind and birds chirping away. It was yet another picture perfect day in Latvia.


The last cluster of houses we visited were the ones that comprised the fishing village. Along the way, we took a slight detour and ended up at a pier of sorts with views of the water and the road that we had driven on to get here from Riga. It was nice place to take a short break.

Unlike the other homes which were all nestled among the trees in the forest, the lot of fishermen's homes was built right alongside the water. There was even a small smokehouse with fish fillets (real??) hanging up so you could see how the smoking was done back in the day.








The other villages might also have had smokehouses but the only one we saw was at the fishing village.  I was especially curious as I now have the idea that I want to try my hand at smoking fish when I get back home.


The last building we passed by was the Labourer's Hut, complete with wood carvings - some complete, some works in progress.  Very folksy.


We took a quick apple break before exiting the museum. This definitely worth the visit but I would suggest breaking it down like we did. In all honesty, after a few villages, it does all begin to look the same.....unless perhaps you're an architect and you can tell the subtle differences in style.

There were plenty of trees with ripe fruit but Bro ate from his stash.  They look so pretty but damn, they are tart!

After the fishing village, we made our way back to the car and off we went to our next destination.

Sigulda!