Aug. 24th, 2015

Day 9, Sun 23 Aug

I had always assumed that the laws governing lorries in the EU were common to all EU countries. Lorries in the UK are limited to 89kph, sometimes lower. However, I've been struck at how fast the lorries go here, even on single carriageway roads (40mph in the UK, officially). Today, I had the rather unnerving experience of being overtaken by an articulated lorry while I was already doing more than 80kph.

Kohe wanted to roam the streets alone, while Aya wanted to head out to see a famous country house, Rundale Palace, some distance from the city. So, Aya, Junko & I set off to first cross the river then head south towards Bauska. The first bit proved trickier than expected. We missed the first bridge and I'd chosen the correct slip road for the second. However, being in the inside lane and a car hot on my tail, I wound up on a bumpy track leading to the shoreline. Even when I got back on to the main road, I was heading away from the bridge and had to make a U-turn to find my way across the river and, fortunately, on the right road.

We arrived at Rundale about noon. The signage left something to be desired, as we had to find our way into the house more or less by intuition. It is a huge place and, once again, I was left wondering whether such wealth really should be concentrated in the hands of one person (or family). That said, there were some oddities. I don't know whether it was the restoration or the original, but the detailing between the wooden stairs and the plaster of the walls looked a little unfinished. That said, the paintings and furnishings were decidedly opulent, as was the garden. On our garden tour, our guide told us it had been a school and the garden was either a tangled scrub or playing fields in 1978. It's certainly had something of a transformation since then.

We went for lunch in the cafe and were pondering the choices. We were going to opt for pasta, but were told that had a 25 minute waiting time, so we chose the soup of the day. This was a fortunate choice. I chose fish and Junko & Aya chose beef. The waitress brought in 2 tureens that could have fed 3-4 people each so, along with the bread, we had quite a feed.

Then, off to the Switzerland of Latvia. Well, truth be told, nowhere is very high, so it was just a very pleasant valley and hills near the town of Sigulda called Turaida. This actually meant we had to drive back, almost into Riga, then head NE. While Junko & Aya roamed around looking at whatever was there (I still don't know) I put the seat back and dozed. I really was feeling very tired.

On our way back we stopped in Sigulda for a pizza then hit the road just as the sun was setting. Unfortunately, we soon ran into an horrendous traffic jam which took us over an hour to clear. We could see no good reason for such a hold up. true, there were 2 lanes of a carriageway merging into one then crossing the reservation into a contraflow. Reason enough, you might have thought. However, even when we were all in a single line we were still stopping and starting until traffic eventually started flowing smoothly, for no apparent reason. Consequently, it was gone 11pm when we dropped Aya off at her hotel.

On the journey back, Aya took a call from Shingo. It seems he had been in an accident with an ambulance and lost the numberplate and front bumper. Unfortunately, he has a Toyota Land Cruiser, which is very costly to repair here. Some parts are similar to cheaper models, and are readily available, but not a bumper. So, quite when we will start our next leg tomorrow remains to be seen.

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cycleboy1957

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