The first town I passed after crossing the border is called “Ape”. It appears to have few claims to fame other than as a source of alcohol tax revenue from visiting Estonians. The Latvian government imposes significantly less tax on alcohol than its northern neighbour.
Like so many towns in the Baltic States, Valmiera was virtually destroyed during World War Two hence it buildings are mostly from the Soviet era although rising prosperity will undoubtedly see many of them replaced. Valmiera is primarily an industrial town and has little to detain the sightseer. My stopping place was to the north of the town adjacent to a recreational area with a substantial BMX cycling track.
Cēsis is a very old town with the centre virtually unspoilt. There are the ruins of a mediaeval castle of which the grounds are now a public park. The town was the scene of a great deal of fighting during the Great Northern War between Sweden and Russia and it was during one engagement that the garrison destroyed the castle rather than let it fall into the hands of the enemy. Some of it was later rebuilt and added to and there is now a museum within.
One of the adjacent buildings was the oldest brewery in Latvia, it is now part of the university campus which specialises in engineering subjects
There are a number of varied places to visit, archaeological sites, craft workshops and landscapes.
Riga is the capital of Latvia, standing on the shore of the Gulf of Riga at the mouth of the river Daugava. There are a variety of building styles from the mediaeval to the ultra modern. Although the old town is mostly mediaeval there are buildings from a number of periods including some built by the most recent occupiers. St Peter’s Church is notable for the height of its spire, once the tallest in Europe. On the opposite side of the river are the halls of the Central Market. Built during the 1920s, the architecture is neoclassical and art-deco with the roofs being recycled airship hangers.
The city has an excellent transport system using trams, trolley and diesel buses. International bus routes service the city centre terminus.