Latvia - Green card
Tent packed, bikes loaded and with clear blue skies our destination was Riga the capital of Latvia.
Taking route 1 towards Latvia (shown on our map as the M12) crossing the border we meet our first really unhelpful and obnoxious guard. After presenting our documents he demanded “THE REST!” – this had us both stumped as he had every bit of paperwork and document we had in our possession.
Now, Latvia still require a Green card as proof of insurance, but our insurance company does not issue Green cards and explicitly states this on the documents – therefore we needed to buy local insurance from the kiosk next to the border entrance – however, our guard kept insisting on “Green card” and “every person has one”. In fact, he was so unhelpful that after saying ‘green card, green card,’ four or five times he then walked away shrugging his shoulders and left us to it!
Bearing in mind at this point we did not know we could buy the local insurance at the gate and needless to say he didn’t tell us! Some time later, more by luck than anything else, we had secured a ‘blue card’, which confusingly enough is a temporary green card! WTF?
This cost us £9 per bike and gave us basic insurance for 15 days.
Our route to Riga was pretty uneventful. The countryside is very pretty and not unlike parts of England on a summers day. Riga is well signposted and we found the centre without too many problems and for a change did not arrive at rush hour! With the bikes parked up in the centre of Riga’s pedestrian zone we decided to explore what turned out to be a ‘terribly well-heeled’ city (Riga isn’t short of a bob or two).
The centre of Riga is dotted with bars, restaurants and cafes of every description and the city is ‘buzzing’ but it’s a very relaxed ‘buzz’!
Enjoying a coffee back at the bikes we were tentatively approached by a young guy who turned out to be a cameraman from Latvian television who was in the area filming that day’s traditional festivities taking place in the main market square. “Are you really travelling the world?” he asked, “I have read this on your motorbike”. “Yes!” we replied, as grins shot across our faces. After a brief conversation our friend left us but returned some half hour later with his producer. Within minutes the cameras were rolling and we were being interviewed about the trip, the miles, the charities and our experiences so far, whilst we were both trying to look as nonchalant as possible. With the interview done they wanted shots of us riding our bikes around their city and half an hour later we were still doing u-turns in front of cathedrals so they could get the shots they wanted – it was all great fun and will hopefully attract more people to the web site!
We decided to leave Riga, as with our budget already over-stretched the temptation to spend even more here was strong. What was needed now was some sun, sand and relaxation and based on advice the town Liepaja was the place to get it. Riding through Liepaja we were a little unimpressed, especially as the trip across had not been a short one. However, on leaving the town and continuing southwards on the A11 for only a further 8 miles we found Latvian heaven! Gaili Kempings – whose details are as follows:
- Maja “Gaili”, Nicas pagasts, p/n Bernati, Liepajas raj., LV-3471, Latvija
- Tel. +371 63460034,
- Tel.+371 26313892
- GPS: 56° 24 North. 20° 59 East
The site is a small family-run affair, and is also bloody cheap! We pitched our tent under the evergreens and then walked the 400m through the privately owned woods down and on to the beautiful white sand of the beach – with a slight breeze and the noise of the waves breaking this was a fantastic way to end a long day.