Thursday, 12 August 2010

Kemeri National Park

The one-hour train journey (once we’d found the station) from Riga to the former health resort of Kemeri was very cheap. Kemeri is acclaimed for its healing sulphurous water, but now it’s all a bit run down in an endearing kind of way. We found maps at the station and headed off through the large and well tended, but not well visited park. There were many birds and flowers, with a crumbling pagoda and rusty bridges. Kemeri seemed to be deserted, but for several lone people in wheelchairs. In Riga we had seen no wheelchair bound people and had thought it near impossible for them to cross any roads as they would be hampered by all the underground passages and their many stairs. In Kemeri it seems they have found a haven with normal crossings. Perhaps the sacred waters have drawn them there.

As soon as we had got to Kemeri the mosquitoes began to bite us, so we smothered ourselves in insect repellent. On entering into the National Park itself mosquito numbers got higher and we found ourselves dashing between pools of sunlight in an attempt to avoid them and their bites. Along a track we passed an electricity substation and a building with more people in wheelchairs sitting outside it. Were Latvians sending their wheelchair bound to the National Park where they would be out of sight and out of mind?

The bog forest was nice but would have been more appreciated was it not for the 60 or so itchy blotches that covered my body- further testament to the ineffectiveness of ‘The Mix’. Amongst plenty of other things blue butterflies, birds, other butterflies, a few toads, yet more bilberries (which the information boards told us we were very welcome to pick), trees, mosses and fungi were to be found. Yet again, no moose. Midst in the wood was a set of exercise equipment, which we imagine no one would be foolish enough to use with all these bloodsuckers around.

In Kemeri village we admired the old church and buildings. People walked around with buckets of water and bilberries, and a lady stood in the garden washing her clothes in the sink. Back in Riga a man came off a train with a few buckets of bilberries, he must have been out picking. We also came to the conclusion that supermarkets in these nations are far ahead of England and the rest of Europe. The fridges are found round the outside of the shop and have backs that slide open so that products can be restocked from the back, with the newer dates at the front. Stop the refurbishment in the River Cottage shop (if it’s actually happening) and put a few of those in. Oh actually maybe not, wouldn’t that just make life a little too easy?

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