Latvia: The Switzerland of the Baltic

Location: Riga, Latvia

Actually, only a small part of Latvia is considered to be like Switzerland, and even that is a stretch: the highest point of land here is only 80 metres above sea level. But that’s impressive for a region that’s almost entirely flat, and Latvians are pretty proud of their little patch of paradise.

And it IS something to be proud of. The area around the twin villages of Turaida and Sigulda, about an hour outside of Riga, is a beautiful river valley nestled among acres of pine forests. Rising just above the trees is the watch tower of Turaida Castle, built in 1214. A fire in the 18th century destroyed part of the castle, and what was burned was never rebuilt, so you can still see the ruins. We got some amazing views from the top of the tower.

Our next stop was the Gutmana Cave, a natural sandstone cave fed by a freshwater spring. Legend has it that washing in the water makes you prettier; drinking it makes you younger. So naturally the women all lined up to take a sip. Chris didn’t bother washing or drinking; I guess he figured he was pretty enough. Huh.

We’re supposed to be sailing for Visby, Sweden, right now, but the captain announced that high winds and choppy seas mean we have to cancel that port (nuts). We’ll stay here overnight instead and then have a day at sea tomorrow before arriving in Poland.

What to do tomorrow…