A day hop to Loviisa

Embarassed to admit. Only this summer I discovered this wonderful haven,  a Finnish coastal town called Loviisa! It takes only one hour to get there from Helsinki but somehow I have managed to avoid this lovely pearl. I had my friend Hanna as a guide as she has a summer cottage in the area. We set this spontaneous meeting in the harbor of the town. Our program included eating, swimming and sun. Once again I realized that one really doesn’t have to travel far in order to feel on a holiday. Very recommended!

Loviisa rantakahvila kahvilla ja uimassa The lunch in Cafe Saltbodan in the harbor was good (pike-perch and summer potatoes) although it didn’t fill our starving stomachs. In the upper picture you will see the portion (and me – thanks Uzi for picking that one :)) www.saltbodan.fi Keijuleikkejä Loviisa kahvilla ja uimassa LoviisassaOn our way to our next destination we found this beautiful fairy garden where one try how it feels to be a fairy for a moment. A journey to my childhood!

Tuhannen tuskan kahvila kahvilla ja uimassa Loviisassa What a place! Don’t miss this beautiful cafe in a wooden house called Liisantalo: a charming, sunny yard, loose leaf tea in a Chinese pot and the best rhubarb pie ever. And everything accompanied by warm hearted and friendly service. www.liisantalo.fi

Ranta Loviisa And on the top of it, what could be better on a hot day than a plunge into the cool water. These nice changing rooms decorate the beach in Loviisa. They are – unfortunately – locked and there is a modern, big changing room with bathrooms and a shower instead. But had to take a picture anyway!

Travel information about Loviisa

 

Summer fun in Latvia

Jelgava, the biggest city of Zemgale region in Latvia, is a nice place to spend a summer day, especially if you visit the region during the Milk, honey and Bread-festival. No local misses this occation and this is how it looks like.

Jelgava milk, honey and bread festival  kesähuveja Latviassa

jelgava milk and honey festival 2 uzi varon kesähuveja latviassaAn important part of the festival is the regatta of boats and floats made of milk cartons! Milk, honey and bread festival Jelgava kesähuveja Latviassa

jelgava milk and honey festival 5 uzi varon kesähuveja Latviassa

jelgava milk, honey and bread festival 4 uzi varon

jelgava milk and honey festival 6 uzi varon

The festival will be held this year 30th August, 2014. For more information click here. Jelgava is located 45 km from Riga. There are frequent buses and the ride will take around one hour.

The best ice cream in Latvia

We ate the best ice cream in Latvia (or probably ever) in Skriveri village. And it wasn’t exactly ice cream tasting as I expected but a full meal of ice cream!

Waiter Lelde at Skriveri Ice cream Latvia

Sweet Lelde told us about the ice cream factory, a family business. The whole family works like crazy in the summer and rest in the winter. Unless they are baking ginger bread or planning new ice cream flavors.

skriveru ice cream 5 uzi varonChocolate ice cream, blue cheese and black currant jam. A perfect combination of flavors!
skriveru ice cream 2 uzi varonBeetroot, horseradish ice cream and herring on a bed of salads. Unbelievable but this works!

Lelden äiti Skriveri ice cream Latvia Parasta jäätelöä  Lelde’s mom is responsible for the delicacies in the factory coffee house. Skriveri ice cream kylä Parasta jäätelöäSkriveri is located in the countryside, approx. 1,5 hour drive away from Riga. This tiny village is a dream destination for any foodie!

Next to the ice cream factory there is a sweet factory Skriveru Saldumi where they manufacture the famous butterscoth candy Gotina, everything hand made. You can make them on your own in the workshops held by the factory. A nice souvenir!

 

A day in Riga

Almost a year ago I and Uzi traveled to Latvia to make a story about cycling in Zemgale region and we started our trip naturally from Riga. I had never been to Riga before and now I had only one day! Luckily I was able to stay a couple of days on my own and explore the city after the official part was over.

Riga street view

I love towers! Church towers, bird towers, view towers… In a new place I like to look for a nice tower to see the place from a different perspective and to feel the atmosphere of the place. A tower visit also makes it easier to locate myself in a new place.

This is what I did in Riga too. I like climbing stairs in narrow staircases and love the feeling to reach the top. In St. Peter’s church you have to the elevator in addition to the stairs. The elevator is sometimes a bit of a hassle especially when it is crowded. But the views (see the first picture above the post) – absolutely worth going up! The city center was a magical combination of faded Soviet architecture and beautiful historical buildings.

Entrance tickets to St. Peter’s tower: 7 euros.

http://peterbaznica.riga.lv/en/serviceshours/

People in Riga

The people were friendly. This road worker on the left was excited to hear that were came from Finland. He knew Finland well and was leaving the next day to Helsinki  for a holiday.

Fine dining in Riga

The Latvian food was a nice surprise. They use a lots of local ingredients. People pick mushrooms and berries. Also birch sap is commonly used. Here we tasted Riga season menu in  Hotel Avalonissa: chantarelles, forest berries and turkey as a first course. Delicious!

Riga Old City

You can spend hours and hours just wondering around in the Old City and watching the beautiful buildings.

Riga Art Nouveau architecture

Riga boasts about its Art Nouveau (Jugend) architecture. There are around 800 buildings in the city built in Art Nouveau style so you can easily spend a day or two exploring the facades. We did it cycling.

Do miss the Riga Art Nouveau museum.

Riga old townInteresting galleries…

Riga night market Day in Riga

Ilse Hoffmane (on the right) and her farmer dad sell vegetables and strawberries straight from the van.

We spent the evening with Uzi’s former assistant, Lithuanian Neri, her son and Neri’s Latvian boyfriend. This nice and photogenic trio was a nice company to wonder around the old city and the night market.

The night market was my favorite place in Riga. It is located just next to the central market place, Rīgas Centrāltirgus.

The vendors stay the whole night until around 6 in the morning and sell vegetables, berries and fruit. Everything fresh and cheap! In the early night hours you can still see the locals filling up their vegetables needs while restaurant owners and day market vendors come to shop in the dawn.

A vegetable stall at Riga night market

 

Riga night life

In the summer nights the streets of the old city turn into a big dance, music and theater show.