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.