The last week of work before the summer vacation was going fast. I was shipped off to Luxembourg for meetings and Waffle had stress for transferring his knowledge to the people who would be replacing him for the coming 17 days. As Friday came, it did not feel much like a start of a holiday, the stress was still lingering around.
The fact, that my dad was signing off the purchase of the cottage while we were driving towards the airport, was not feeling very real yet. Did we really do this? Buy a cottage, on a whim? Really?
Yes, that is more or less exactly what we had done and now we were on our way to get the first look of the place as our own property! First we would have to make the journey. The tickets had been booked before we even had a clue we would be property owners, so the route was not the fastest nor the most direct. The flight would take us to Riga, Latvia, where there would be a car waiting for us. That car would then take us through to Estonia and Tallinn, where a ferry would get us safely across the Finnish bay and Helsinki. That would be on Sunday, keeping us on the road in the Baltics for two nights.
We flew to Riga and took off to the Latvian countryside. We silently thanked the EU for ditching the roaming costs of data usage and went hunting for the green blobs in Google maps. One of those blobs, the Gauja National Park, was more or less on our route, and turned out, there was a free camping ground in there as well.
A stretch of a good hour of countryside roads followed. I am more and more convinced, that Latvia is a country worth visiting. The nature is unspoiled and clean, the people friendly and helpful, bit distant in a Slavic way, the country has also a remarkable coast, you would not want to miss!
Eventually we entered the national park. The forests there are beautiful and fresh, dotted with small farming communities and their fields. It all felt strangely Finnish. I think I like Latvia.
Our camping ground was better than expected. There was plenty of smooth grass to go around at the side of a river. There was an outhouse and some open huts and fireplaces available, more than you would expect for literally no money. Plenty of hungry, biting midges too…
In the morning we moved on pretty quickly, nothing much to do in a wet forest, you know. The boat would leave only on the following morning, so we were in no hurry. We selected a route that took us to the small roads and tiny villages. We did some shopping too, finding some Latvian beers and foods and the first things for the cottage, since in Latvia, many things are cheaper than in Finland.
As Estonia was getting closer, we entered the endless pine forests of the coastal side of the Baltics. My my, they are so pretty; the contrasts between the green mosses and the orange pines towering above them. Add some bits of purples and yellows from the flowers. There you do not miss home.
An icy wind was blowing over the land from the Baltic sea and we were rather happy to crash at a hostel for the night. We spent the evening exploring the newly acquired Latvian beers (excellent) and trying to get warm water from a shower. The peaceful evening was interrupted by a group of deaf people, trying to find the person responsible for the accommodation. They thought it were us, which was highly unlikely. So we called the owner, who refused to understand, that it is would be fairly difficult to talk to these people via phone. After a lot of texting, calling and gesturing the group had to get onto the road, to find another place to stay. Apparently they had arrived too late, and were not the problem of our host.
Sunday came and we needed to be on the road early to catch the first ferry of the day. Finally we were on the last stretch to Finland and to our new holiday home. We didn’t even think about stopping at Helsinki now, we turned the car to north and drove.