A couple of months back we were trying to decide on the place that would accommodate us during our stay in Riga and – as most places were turned down for various reasons, the idea to stay in Jurmala popped up and we were instantly delighted at the prospect of staying in a Latvian resort town. Jurmala used to be popular with Soviet party officials and it was one of the most prominent beach resorts in the eastern bloc, but its fame as a popular retreat goes back to the 19th century and for good reason.
The scenery is magnificent as the sea breeze, the pine scent originating from the nearby forest and the wide sandy beach with its bright white powdered shore quickly assisted the town to gain a reputation as a health spa. The lovely wooden houses also contribute to the town’s charm and we got to stay in one of them, which although not a luxurious hotel, was a clean and neat place that gave an essence of 19th century style.
Our first impressions of the place were limited to a brief attempt to settle in and take a shower before returning to Riga. However, on the following day, after a long tour of the busy streets of the Latvian capital, we returned to Jurmala determined to spent the afternoon on the beach. Being more daring than Catherine, I also wanted to swim in the Baltic and we made a short stopover to put a swimming suit on and grab a towel.
After that was settled, we walked to the nearby beach, which was one of the main points of interest along the 30 km stretch of beach. The air was refreshingly cool and many people were enjoying the sun and the amenities the place offered. We sat on a large wooden table and got some refreshments from the nearby store, as I was getting ready to check the water. Well, it turned out that the dry part of the beach was the best one, as the waters were disappointingly shallow (well from my perspective, shallow seas are a waste of time – it can be great for kids though) and after walking for a while, clinging onto the vain hope that the water would get deeper, I opted to return to the shore, before reaching crossing the sea to Sweden on foot.
The beach was impressive though and compensated for the depthless sea. We enjoyed some snacks, bought from a kiosk near the beach and the gentle sea breeze while letting our eyes to follow all the people that would catch our gaze. A small party of French tourists were eager to enjoy a night out in Riga, some children savoring the last summer days as they played all along the white sands, building castles and enjoying the same water that let me down, young couples enjoying a walk under the slowly fading sunbeams and even old people sitting on benches and staring at the horizon.
As the sun was descending to his nightly realm, we hanged around for some last shots and a little while before darkness fell we returned to our hostel for a brief break before exploring Jurmala’s nightlife in fresh clothes. The main street was rather crowded and we noticed many bars and restaurants on both of its sides. It was a very enjoyable walk and we even got the chance to acquire some souvenirs, although we got a bit worried that it was getting late and most places might get ready for closing and would stop serving food. So, we spotted a place that seemed very pleasing to the eye and in the hope that it would also be pleasing to the stomach, we took a seat and we were not dissatisfied.
The place offered us the chance to taste some yummy pizza and some traditional Latvian dessert (possibly buberts), that was the perfect way to bid farewell to Latvia. On the following morning, we caught the train back to Riga, after meeting a couple of charming Italian ladies – it was nice to meet other southerners like us – and we were keen to check out the last stops in our itinerary, Vilnius and the nearby Trakai in magnificent Lithuania.