From the Curonian Spit to Riga
In the morning, we did a little walk to the nearby old cathedral of Königsberg (Kaliningrad), a brick-style church from the early 14th century. It was still closed. At one corner of the cathedral, the tomb of one of the greatest thinkers of all times is located: Immanuel Kant.
We returned to the hotel and met a guy from Chemnitz, East Germany who goes around the entire Baltic Sea with his little Simson moped. Chapeau!
We started our riding day and with a mixture of good orientation skills and my smartphone we navigated to one of the most bizarre landmarks in Europe: the Curonian Spit. It s a 98 km long, thin, curved sand-dune spit that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast. Its southern portion lies within Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia and its northern within southwestern Lithuania. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site shared by the two countries. Entering the spit, we had to pay a toll and could then ride through the pine forest until we reached the border with Lithuania. The crossing was relatively quick (one hour) and the contrast with the Russian territory was remarkable. John described it as “from black and white to colourful”.
At the border we saw a German couple with a strange BMW sidecar. We stopped in the next town (Nida) and had a little lunch. The great dune was close, but we didn’t want to lose the time climbing on it so we took a picture from the distance instead.
Nida is a nice, touristic town with lots of traditional fisher houses, partly painted in blue.
I tried to find the former house of Thomas Mann but gave up quickly; we had a big plan for this day, we wanted to get to Riga. We continued on the spit and reached the ferry that carried us in no time to Klaipeda on the mainland. The weather was sunny now, but a very chilly, strong wind blew from the West. The A-roads were in a good condition and we made good progress. We reached the Latvian border and the XBR claimed its 45th country visit. In Liepaja, we filled up petrol and booked a hotel in Riga for the night. The remaining 220 km were quick – the road was good and the wind pushed from the back.
Finally we reached Riga and found our hotel in the old town. We checked in and went for a long walk through the beautiful historic centre. Partly it’s a bit over the top in touristic terms, but the historic heritage is for real. We had a Latvian degustation menu in a restaurant and discussed our plans for the next days. Tomorrow we plan to head for Vilnius, Lithuania.
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