Thursday, 17 March 2016

Glorious Jurmala - the must-see day trip destination in Latvia

Though Latvia's capital has some serious eye candy in store for an architecture or a spa junkie... Jurmala is most definitely a destination one should not miss. Great for, say, a daytrip.

Even with the March greyness hanging over the town it is downright impossible not to fall in love with its architecture, consisting of wooden villas from the late 19th and early 20th century.

The distance from the airport to Jurmala is just about the same as the distance from the airport to Riga, so you might just as well just to spend a leisurely weekend over here instead.

Jurmala is the only spa town in Latvia and its white sandy beaches, stretching over 30 kilometres, along with gentle seaside air, mud used for medicinal purposes and their famous mineral water have made this a traditionally popular holiday destination for foreigners and locals alike.

Taxi ride from Riga takes 15 or so minutes and costs ( depending on the traffic and/ or driver) between €20-30. 

Trains (bound for Tukums, Sloka or Dubult) will tale roughly half an hour and cost about € 1,40 each way.

Don't even try to find a train stop called Jurmala though as there isn't one. The town actually consists of five different villages (Lielupe, Bulduri, Dzintari, Majori and Dubulti), out of which the closest one to "centre" is Majori.

(which is where we stayed and damn. Oh, damn, you just wait til you get the lowdown on that hotel...!)

The atmosphere in Majori is very much like in Hanko in Finland. Or, as the travelling companion put it, quite like in one of those ridiculously picturesque small towns somewhere in the South of Sweden.

Jurmala is one of the most significant concentrations of that glorious wooden architecture: they house 103 national and 295 local architecturally important monuments.

The most glorious example would have to be this building, constructed in 1900, which houses Pegasa Pils hotel.

Or, well, would be... did it not also house all that tat (massive plastic French fries, outrageously loud signs, obnoxiously colourful pelican statues and beer logos galore...)

Beautiful is really the only word to use to describe Jurmala. During the Soviet era this used to be wildly popular among the highest of Soviet elite (could somebody once more remind me about the point of communism? Nothing but poverty for the masses? Shitloads of everything for a select few?) 

These days the lovingly restaured villas tend to be in the possession of Riga's wealthiest and finest.

There's a wide range of architectural delights to be found here...

...though for aour weekend hideaway this is what we had in mind. Tiaras no longer optional. 





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