Once wiped off the map by the Soviets. Now Latvia’s beach town.

This kid seems to like Liepaja, better check it out.
But before that, lets back up a bit again. I’ve been asked how it was driving across the Baltics? In short, very easy. Roads are well maintained and not overly busy outside of the major centers. The main highways are 130Km/h with most people going 140-150. Despite what they tell you about speeding in North America, there wasn’t carnage and death all over at those speeds.
And along the way we saw many interesting buildings and signs that we assumed were from Soviet times. This one translates to “Homeland”.
Or this cool old bridge built from bricks in 1874.
Which just so happens to be right beside this waterfall. At 250m in width, it is the widest waterfall in Europe. For comparison, the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is about 800m wide, and has far more flashing neon lights.
As an added bonus, the Latvian coast line is spectacular and not busy at all. There are numerous beaches along the way you can simply pull over and walk down to the beach.
But enough about that, on to Liepaja! The small town of Liepaja dates back to 1253 and like much of the Baltics, is steeped in history. In 1967, the Soviet Tsar, Peter the Great spent his vacation time in this town. If it is good enough for a murderous Tsar, it’s good enough for me!
Leipaja is home to many parks throughout the town. The name of the town, Liepaja, is a combination of the Latvian word for sand and the name of the river that passes through town, Liva. For a short while, Liepaja was the capital of Latvia when Germans invaded the country and declared the capital would be a boat stationed in the river Liva.
There is street art all around the town. You can spend a day walking around town taking in the various pieces of art work.
More of the street art that appears around Liepaja.
When we were booking accommodations here, they all listed how far they were located from the “metal tree”. I was puzzled by this detail listed in all the rentals “Only 300m from the metal tree”. I would later learn it is called Spoku Koks which means ghost tree and is a tribute to a Latvian rock band.
If the rock inspired ghost tree doesn’t do it for you, how about the largest drum set in all of Europe. One Shawn for scale.
And if giant drum sets aren’t your thing, many parks would have random attractions like this skateboard ramp beside a bike path, amazing!
The local market in Liepaja has existed since at least the 17th century. In 1910 an “art nouvea” building was added and was said to be one of the most picturesque market buildings in the Baltics.
Inside the market you can get all sorts of fresh locally sourced produce and meats etc… All at reasonable prices.
Nearby is the Holy Trinity Lutheran Cathedral. Which is home to the largest original mechanical organ in the world.
More scenic parks to explore. Over 50% of Latvia is covered in forests.
One of the unique things that happens in the Baltics is that amber washes up on the shores. Amber is fossilized tree sap. Since it is lighter than most gems, it tends to somewhat float and washes up on the Baltic shores. This amber clock was built to recognize the 750th anniversary of the name Liepaja (the town was originally called Liiv, then Liva, then Liba, then Libawe, then Libau, and finally Liepaja). The local citizens were asked to collect amber they found on the beach and it was used to build this amber clock statue.
They also built this auditorium to look like a piece of amber the area is famous for.
But the main reason people come to Liepaja is at the end of this boardwalk. As I’ve mentioned previously, the Baltics are a very progressive society. This boardwalk is in place to allow disabled people to easily enjoy the star attraction of Liepaja as well.
That main attraction would be this beach. Plenty of soft sand and very shallow water. I walked out in the water at least 40 feet or so and it was only knee deep. Like much of the Baltics, not too many other tourists around either.
Right on the beach was a great little restaurant that had decent food and fantastic views. We would sit on the rooftop patio and watch the sun set. Given how far north Liepaja is, in the summer they get 20 hours of sunlight per day!
In Latvia, they take a much different approach to food compared to North America. Most of the food is locally grown or sourced. It is all organic with a focus on quality. Most menu options are either vegetarian or vegan.
As I mentioned previously, the Baltics have an interesting history. In 1940, all assets in Liepaja were seized by the Soviet government. Thousands of citizens were arrested and sent to camps in Siberia. The soviets turned Liepaja into a military port for submarines and housed nuclear weapons in warehouses. The city was removed from all maps and you needed special permission to even enter the city. When Latvia gained Independence, and the Russians left, they decided it would be best to blow up the military infrastructure on their way out.
Unfortunately for the Russians, their use of thick heavy concrete made it nearly impossible for their weapons to destroy their own buildings and they were mostly left standing or just moved slightly. But it does make for some cool pictures.
And good fishing apparently.
I almost forgot! Traditional Summit Selfie with Soviet ruins.
As the sun sets over the water on Liepaja’s beach, it is time to pack up and head on to the next stop…. Lithuania.

1 Comment

Teditor · October 28, 2023 at 8:51 pm

I want to move there!!!!

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