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Balls To The Baltic - Latvia or Bust




Ieva and Ed then directed us to their flat in Karostas. At one point Ieva, being the ever dutiful guide, mentioned that we were going through the most dangerous area of Liepaja, to which I nonchalantly replied “This is where they find the giant killer frogs then?” Ieva then informed us quite seriously that this was the Russian area where there was a lot more crime, at which point Jonathan instantly piped up with his best Russian frog impressions. “Rivvitski, Rivvitski”. From then on we could never travel down that road without a chorus of ‘Rivvitski’s. We were told afterwards that the area isn’t actually that bad, and I wonder, given that there is apparently still some tension between the Latvian and the Russian population of the area, how much of it is real, and how much is simply perceived. The things you just can’t know when you are essentially a tourist. However, if you find yourself in the area, you have been warned. There are killer frogs...Giant killer frogs, with access to the soviet arsenal.

Karostas is a strange and bizarre place for a tourist. The first thing I noticed as we drove in on the main road, was that the glass in all of the blocks of flats was either smashed or non existent. It’s like entering a ghost town. Then as you progress further in, the flats become inhabited. There is glass, and more to the point, there are lights in the windows. It starts to look like people might live here and that it’s not just a set from a post apocalyptic movie. Then finally, just as we were approaching Eiva and Ed’s flat, they told us to look left at the gap between two large, matte grey blocks of flats. As we drove down the bumpy road in this place that seemed to be little more than a post nuclear ghost town … “Wow!” we exclaimed in stereo. There in the middle of this huge grey mass of soviet high rise was the most beautiful golden cathedral. The contrast can only be seen to be believed.

Still mildly awed we dropped Ieva and Ed off, and then assuring them we knew how to get back, set off to find our flat for the evening. The half hour journey took us at least an hour and a half as we got completely lost, and got to spend a little more ‘tourist time’ navigating the streets of Liepaja.

We finally found a few landmarks that directed us home, where we spent time talking about the shows, other silly things (we proved very good at talking about complete nonsense over the few weeks we were away) and settling into the flat. We had a coffee maker, and no filters, so I improvised by using paper towels, and now, I wonder why anyone would spend money on coffee filters when a paper towel or two does the job admirably. The things you learn when traveling.



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