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Friday, September 26, 2008

"A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell." - George Bernard Shaw


Baltics trip
Day 9 - 24th May - Sigulda, Latvia
(Part 1)


Mouse, the most elusive of the four pussies (it has a very weak and high-pitched meow)

A Cat Named Mouse


After our last breakfast of toast, bacon (sliced from a flitch), potato pancakes, eggs and pancakes (and maybe one or two more I forgot) we left for Sigulda, a nearby town with 3 castles.

Relic of communism?

On the tram to the city centre, we met another tram inspector. This one was even better than the previous day's: she looked like an aunty (with aunty handbag, even). And she threw one guy off the tram (no fine?!)

Bus there

3 grungey teeny boppers were co-ordinating their panhandling. Gah.

Strangely Sigulda had 2 bus stations which were quite far apart. The one we arrived at did not have a bus to Cesis (another town we wanted to try - the castle there was better preserved, but Sigulda had more historical significance so we prioritised it), so we junked that plan.

Supermarket shelf: 4 types of Mayo

"Indo Indian Store"

Bomb shelter?

Entrance to "New Castle"

As you can see, it was really a manor house.
YC: "This is a castle? Screw you."

Dog. I don't know the species.

Old Castle, 1207, Brotherhood of the Sword

As you can see, like pretty much everything in the Baltics, it'd been built, razed, rebuilt, razed (repeat an infinite number of times)


There was some festival, so portaloos spoiled the landscape

Surprisingly the portaloo was of high quality and in very good condition

Behind portaloo

Unfortunately we couldn't enter the ruins.

We saw another, nicer castle in the distance (Turaida Castle)

But it was very far away

Another ruin

Statues in park

Site of 15th century church. The current one definitely isn't that old.

We then broke for a supermarket lunch.

Me in field of flowers. Unfortunately it's not as nice as:

Helen the Baby Fox

All through the trip, we didn't see others doing as we did and picnicing on grass. It must be a Western European/American thing.

There was a cable car service to the next castle ruins, but unfortunately there was a strong wind so it was closed. We then had to make our way down the treacherous Staircase of Doom:

Staircase of Doom
Notice that many of the handrails have rotted and fallen away. Many of the wooden boards were also rotten or had fallen away.

The river we had to cross. Luckily the bridge wasn't like the staircase.

YC and British tourists

We then struck out into the jungle, looking for the path up the mountain hill

More rickety and, in this case, overgrown stairs up (the vegetation probably means most people give up by this point). Though ironically these were somewhat better maintained with fewer missing steps and handrails.

Finally, we reached the top.

Nondescript garden

Ominous house (Krimulda Rehabilitation Centre/Resident Evil House)

We entered the house to find it deserted.

Eastern European House of the Dead

Another corridor

Stone house

We saw this pile of rocks in the field across from us. Maybe it was Krimulda Castle, which we were looking for (the signage wasn't very good).

We decided to press on some more in search of our castle.

Marilyn Manson graffiti

Finally, we found the castle after 2 hours of hiking:

We felt distinctly cheated (if we'd taken the cable car we probably would've been alright).

Fungus on tree


We then headed towards the last of the castles, Turaida Castle.
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