All the cites so far have had trams and buses and trains. Every country road we have been on has also had a bus stop about every two kilometres. Some of them have shelters but most don’t – it must be horrid in the sub zero winter! However although there are plenty of stops the buses do not appear to be that frequent. I have been past hundreds of bus stops in past two weeks in the country but so far have only seen a couple of buses. The bus stops seem to be in deserted places, but if you look really hard you will see a wee dirt drive going to a house or a house in the forest.
The transport has been excellent in the cities. In Russia I thought “well they have a population of five and a half million in the city, of course they will have a great transport structure” but even in Tallinn with a population of 400,000 in the city they had great transport. Today in Riga with a population in the city of 300,000 and there are trams and buses. The longest wait for a tram all day (have caught 5) was three minutes.
The buses are like two buses hooked together with a middle bit that bends, not sure if you walk through it, have not yet been on one to see.
It seems to be very common to have a dog, in particular in the countryside, there are lots of really enormous dogs, thankfully mostly are fenced. We have had a couple of run ins but they have thankfully left us alone after barking at us until we have rode past what they obviously consider to be their zone. A number of people keep dogs in the apartments and you can see them out walking them in the shared grass spaces. Given that the apartments are not big and they are in apartment blocks, the dog must take up half the lounge and it would be a pain taking it in and out to the toilet but then I guess it is all about what you get used to.
At the open air market in Riga today it seemed every third stall that was not produce was dog food and treats.
It is not as windy as Wellington but it has been fairly steadily blowing, not sure what the phenomenon is that causes the wind to change direction every time you do, to me it is just like biking in Wellington but it is really getting to some of the other riders. I must admit though when I was imagining the ride I had imagined it minus the wind. The temperature in Latvia is about 17 degrees in summer and drops to -5 degrees in winter so not as harsh winter as Russia but a much milder summer.
Those of you who know my navigating abilities will be interested to know that apart from a couple of wrong turns that I quickly spotted, I have not yet got lost (helped of course by following Daphne and Shirley who are experienced at this and have a good sense of directions).
As I already blogged about earlier, we get instructions on the route plus the major turns are orange ribbon flagged.
The types of written instructions we get are
S – straight
RA – round about
L – left
R – right
LRA – left at roundabout
X – cross road
RHS – right hand side
LHS – left hand side
So typical day’s instructions look like:
R out of hotel
2.8k R onto dirt road (Euroveld 1)
X 10.8k S
Pavement / Euroveld 1
13.8k sharp L
16.9k R at t junction/ sign to Tallinn
Sign to Viru – Nigu
Immediate L follow sign
35.75k L follow Euroveld signs
36k R at t junction/ sign to Kunda
47.6k L at RA
Take 3rd exit to sign to Tallinn
48.9k S ra follow signs to kapepa
51k lunch truck!
72.8k R sign Vihaka and Vosu
78.8k stay L St T junction sign to palms
82.2k R onto Euroveld sign to Tallinn
85.5k sharp L
94.4k L at RA take 2nd exit
97.1k R sign to Kasmu
101.6k Laineka camp LHS
This is backed up by the orange flags and maps and GPS. There is also the sweep who is one of the tour guides riding at the back of the group, not that this would help if you had gone in the wrong direction.