Things had not started well. Craig bit my head off (he apologised later), Mac got the runs and I got sprayed in water from an ill fitting hose pipe. At this point, I should have climbed back in bed but no, it was time to set off and explore another Latvian gem. We said cheerio to the crew at Riverside Camping and set off. We turned on the stereo and on came the random tunes. We head bopped and chuckled like two daft buggers to the sound of Billy Idol, Rebel Yell, all the way to the main road.
We were in desperate need of some food, so off to Rimi supermarket for a brim cupboards moment. We stocked up including some nice Latvian biscuits. The biscuits tend to be in large biscuit bins that you hand pick. The selection is huge. What makes it even better they are ever so cheap. We stacked our trolley with anything and everything at a total cost of €35.37. That is cheap, happy bunny time.
On the road out of Riga we spotted a hidden police car. They were parked behind some bushes at the point where the road changes from a 50 to a 90 and clearly having plenty rewarding moments as they wave over the speeding offenders. Once outside of Riga the roads returned to ‘normal’ Latvian roads which is by far some of the worst roads we’ve experienced. Forget the A and B roads these babies need a classification code of their own. Lets start with C for the not bad, Z for the pot hole and puddles or Z/WTF for the…surely to god that’s not a road, is it? The mad thing is you are driving along a normal road then all of a sudden the black tarmac just ends and the red sand road starts. It is weird and very unnerving. Its like they just ran out of the stuff and forgot to tell anyone. Oh and the gps settings for ‘unpaved road’ alert does not work either, so planning your route can be a challenge and today was no exception.
Our journey today was not far, around 60km to Rundale Palace but boy it took us several hours to get there. Every time we hit a Z/WTF we stopped and rerouted the GPS. The roads were way too bad for our motorhome. We hit Z/WTF road after Z/WTF road until the end we had no choice but to use one. We slowly crawled along the horrid road for several hours. It was not fun and poor Vin got covered in mud and sand from the road. With several days of heavy rain the roads were drenched and pot holes were full of muddy water. Craig turned in to a one eyed monster that grew uglier by the minute with road rage. At one point, I thought he was about to jump out the motorhome and punch a pot hole. The only positive thing the bed tweak worked because we had no squeaks from above. A blessing because squeaks on top of that journey would have ended in one of us flying home, for sure.
We arrive at Rundale Palace and we quickly give the motorhome a swill. A few buckets from a nearby lake did the trick. Nothing fancy just a few buckets to wash away the clumps of sand especially around the steps and hinges. Then off to explore the palace and what a colourful history and fascinating place.
Ernst Johann Biron was kicked out of Kaliningrad, moved to Latvia and shacked up with Duchess of Coutland, who later became the Empress of Russia. In 1736 they started the summer palace but after a couple of years with bad lad Biron she popped her clogs. He got sent to exile and the palace got put on hold. He kept quiet for 20 years until he shacked up with Catherine II and regained his title as Duke of Cortland, which also meant finishing the palace. All was fine until 1795 when Corland was annexed by Russia, so Biron’s son fled with most of the interior. Since then its been a number of things including granary, school and offices until it was restored in 1972. Entrance is €9 for inside and €4 for gardens. We didn’t bother with the absolutely stunning gardens because everything was water logged and for a change, it bucketed it down.
Our Bumble Verdict: Rundale Palace, Latvia. Stunning grounds and impressive building but the main road to the Palace is in need of serious repair.
By 6pm the tourist buses and cars had left and the learner drivers appeared. A great playground for practicing but not whilst we are here, so we packed up and set off to our next port of call, Lithuania. As we left the palace, the road was horrendous for about half an hour and then finally, we hit a relatively smooth bit of road. Hallelujah!
By 7.30 we entered our 23 country (in a motorhome), Lithuania. Woo Woo. First impressions, fantastic because it has proper roads. Craig stopped screaming, Mac stopping pining, Tosh stopped shaking and I stopped worrying about the lot of them. Life now feels good. Loved Latvia but have to say, never again, the roads are horrendous.
Our sleepy spot: Siauliai, a car park just outside the town over looking field upon field of onions with a wonderful night sky and full moon.
Wild Camping GPS position N056.014495 E023.408854
Route: Riga to Siauliai, Lithuania