We finished our visit in Talsi by attending the historical Evangelical Lutheran Church where we were greeted by another kitten. The inside of the church was less decorative than some of the Catholic cathedrals I’ve been in, but it was a beautiful old church with incredible singers. We sat through a 30 minute sermon that we didn’t understand. The service took almost two hours, but it was a nice meditative morning. Vitauts knew some songs, but he didn’t understand the sermon even though the pastor was loud in an in an elevated pulpit.
After church, we ate at the Latvian pizza shop in Talsi called Stenders Pizza. It’s a chain. Ansis wanted breakfast, and he was promised the breakfast menu until noon. We got there at about 11:45 and they tried to tell him he couldn’t order breakfast, but he showed them his watch, and he got breakfast for us. This is why it is good to travel with a native!
Then we drove for about an hour to Jaunmoku Pils. The drive was pleasant. The Latvian scenery is just beautiful almost no matter where you go. There are so many trees, and everything is lush and green, the castle was no exception.
As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by Helen, one of Monta’s friends whose husband makes clothing. I bought one of his shirts. Then we met up with Bruno, Maruta, Ansis and Monta. We saw them off and on all day. We had a special surprise by meeting Arnolds who is Ansis’ cousin from Ogre. Yes, Ogre is a town in Latvian.
Susan, Glen and I had a wonderful time looking at all the vendors who brought their crafts to sell. I think we bought something from almost every vendor. Gifts for all the people we love! And some nice things for ourselves. My favorite artist was the blacksmith who made artful statues from iron. He had a dragon and a mouse on display, neither of which he would sell at any price. Susan and I both bought a matching corkscrew and bottle opener. I also bought metal dice which will make me a hero if I ever get into Dungeons and Dragons again.
The highlight of the party were the two fashion shows. The first show was a display of traditional costumes from 115 years ago along with modern outfits inspired by the old ones. Darta, Ansis’ eldest daughter, showed off a brown dress. Some of the costumes and models were stunning!
The other show was by Sena Klets, Maruta and Monta’s shop in Old Town Riga. These costumes are just amazing. They are all handmade in Latvia using Latvian materials and labor based on the traditional costumes from hundreds of years ago. Monta, Ansis, Darta and Nora all showed off these beautiful costumes.
During the show, Vitauts had a beer and some snacks. He wasn’t interested in any of the souvenirs, but he did feel sorry for the vendors who weren’t selling any of the clay pots and plates.
One really cool thing that we’ve found about Latvia so far is the lack of rules and regulations. We walked through the castle freely without restrictions other than polite signs asking us not to sit on the antique furniture. I don’t think people are as quick to file lawsuits here as in the United States, so they don’t have so many restrictions on freedoms like we do. You are also much more free to walk around on land because private property owners aren’t likely to care or have guns to shoot you. It makes me sad that anything we do in America has to be profitable and carefully scrutinized by lawyers to make sure no one will get sued. I hope Latvia never gives up it’s freedoms as we have.
We finished the day at Jaunmoku Pils by switching vehicles. Vitauts and I drove with Bruno and Maruta to Abragciems while Susan and Glen stayed behind with Ansis who had to help pack up everything with Monta. Have I mentioned that the weather here in the summer is absolutely perfect? 70 degrees and sunny every day (with some rain that will come later). It makes me not want to go back to live in a place that either hurts because it’s too cold or makes it impossible to go outside and enjoy life because it is too hot.
Then we were on our way to the next adventure… the Latvian seaside!
To be continued…