Goodbye Estonia, Hello Latvia
Feeling rested from the previous half-day, we woke up in Hapsalu, Estonia ready to go. The morning was uneventful, well-paced riding recessed with a lunch break outside of a city called Lihula. Back on the road as soon as possible we rode for another 35 km until the sprinkles we’d been riding with since lunch turned to rain. We stopped under a tree for our rain jackets and rode on. Then it started to rain harder so we stopped under another tree for our rain pants. But as we dressed it started to pour, and the rain was accompanied by thunder and lighting. We waited under the tree for half an hour until getting up the courage to ride across the street and down a big gravel lane to a nearby house.
We thought the barn looked pretty inviting so we went to huddle in its shelter, but the first thing that greeted us was the tremendous saw in the middle of the room. Burke sat on a log and invited me to sit next to him but I declined with the response that I needed to be on my feet in case I needed to run for my life. Burke asked if I was scared because of the huge machete-like tools strategically placed all over the walls, but I said it was more of the piles of ropes and chains hanging from the ceiling. Then he saw that there was a door leading to the other half of the building and we didn’t need to be afraid. Looking towards the door though, my eye was caught by the rickety ladder leading up to the dark attic, someone crazy could have totally been living up there Jane Eyre style.
Finally, the rain lightened up and we rode for another 10 km until we saw a HUGE bolt of lightning straight ahead. I wouldn’t have insisted we stop again except the whole picture reminded me of a scene from the movie Twister. Down another long gravel lane we went to stand in the shelter of another barn. This one wasn’t even slightly uncomfortable though; there was a horse and four or five goats that were desperately trying to communicate with us through baahs. Eventually we got back on the road and cycled the last 25km in the pouring rain. I so distinctively remember the pity on the faces of the people in the cars passing us by, but we were so happy at what we had accomplished and pushed through there was nothing to do but smile back at them. When we arrived in Parnu, we realized it is a very touristy city, the summer capital to be exact, and checked into a hotel. We had dinner at a very expensive Mexican restaurant, and then went straight to bed, exhausted.
When we woke up the next morning it was our 1 year anniversary! We went to a little cafe for breakfast and had what all the Estonians had: a plateful of little pastries. They were delicious but of course not filling enough for Burke so we went to an organic restaurant across the way for second breakfast. We did the tourist bit for the rest of the morning and relocated our possessions to a campsite and then went to the beach. The sea was like the rest of our swimming experiences: warm and brown, but this one had ample waves making for the most fun afternoon at the beach ever! After swimming we tried the giant toy on the beach. It was like a teeter totter for adults and pretty fun too. I never quite got the hang of letting go when I was at the bottom so I made several drops from what may have been 10 feet in the air before quitting. A+ wedding anniversary.
The next morning we were back to riding and realized before we left the campground that it was 180km to Riga, including a long strip of no-bikelane highway. So we peddled our way out of Parnu and made the goal of Latvia by lunch; I even made it into a catchy chant for us. Burke was impressed with my pace while we were on the highway with a four inch shoulder (with good reason, I was scared for my life), but when our route veered onto a side road, Burke asked why my pace slowed so much. From far behind him, I called out, “Alasum Jews!” Or so he says that’s what I said. Really I said “I lost some juice,” referring to the juice that powers my legs. Anyway, I found enough juice to get me to the campground that the tourism info lady recommended and we had another relaxing evening on the beach.
Based on every source we’d ever read or heard from, the last bit of the ride into Riga is a white knuckle ride where you have to fight with cars to get any lane space so we decided to opt out of the last 70k into the city and took a bus.
Please note: Burke hasn’t had a chance to edit our photos from Estonia/Latvia yet, so you’ll have to check back for more photos than just the ones I’ve posted here.