Our next destination was the Turaida Castle and Museum, which we went directly to after we had been reunited with the mini-bus that had temporarily misplaced us and had been waiting at the wrong place to meet us after our cable car ride. We were collectively worried about this in case his patience had been put to the test again and would trigger another angry driver explosion but he was calm now and the short journey was uneventful.
The castle and museum were well worth the visit and as the weather continued to improve our charming guide entertained us with tales from Latvian folklore, which she delivered in good English that was sometimes punctuated with amusing mispronunciations and some inappropriate vocabulary. We enjoyed the stories all the more for that.
After leaving Turaida castle, the bus took us to a great log-cabin restaurant called Kungu Rija which s means “The Landlord’s Barn.” The restaurant was built according to old Latvian construction traditions and at this stage of the visit we enjoyed Latvian canapés and accompanied this with a chaotic debate about what to do tomorrow. Alona was desperate to please everyone so worked hard to achieve a consensus that proved hopelessly optimistic. This took some considerable time and once completed required the tour guide to handwrite for everyone an individual and personal itinerary for the next day. This was a nice touch but was probably going to be a complete wasted effort knowing how chronically afflicted we all were with changeable minds.
I’m afraid that Alona wasn’t a very quick learner and no sooner had we ended the tortuous deliberation about tomorrow than she prompted another about where to eat tonight, and that proved equally as painful. I am a great believer in the democratic process but sometimes someone just has to make a decision. I could sense that some of us were getting irritable so I was grateful that on the fourth recount following a confusing voting procedure that we finally agreed to stay at this location and order dinner. I was only too pleased that the restaurant staff that witnessed the pantomime were bestowed with unnatural amounts of patience and didn’t close the place in despair because this was a very good decision indeed and we enjoyed an exceptional meal and washed it down with an appropriate amount of alcohol.
It had been a long day so that evening the Maritim group stayed at their hotel and had an early night, except for Nick who was planning to go clubbing with David, Mark and Alona, and Alona’s cousin Christina. We met them in the cocktail bar at the Hotel Latvia for pre-clubbing drinks. David and Mark got in the mood with some B52s and some tequila shots and because I knew that they could handle their alcohol I gave Nick some advice on sensible drinking which I was to discover later that he completely disregarded. Alona and her cousin were dressed to thrill and David and Mark had already fallen in love with Christina who tonight clad in her best party attire looked quite stunning and they were both completely bowled over by her. With hormones in overdrive they competed with each other for her attention and it was amusing to watch them using their charm, and sometimes their elbows as they competed for advantage over each other.
They invited us to join them at the nightclub and I confess that I was tempted but in the end wisely declined because I imagine that most of the girls at the night-club were there in part to get away from their fathers and probably wouldn’t be particularly delighted to find themselves on the dance floor with someone else’s, especially one with an embarrassing dancing style based on a curious uncoordinated medley of shadow boxing and goose stepping moves that was perfected in nightclubs in the 1970’s and remains marooned there for eternity.