We had a short drive to the beach resort of Jurmala and when we arrived we had another tour reorganisation discussion that convinced me to finally dispose of my useless personal itinerary. This was really beginning to irritate people so I was pleased when it was all sorted out to everyone’s satisfaction and we were allowed to get off the coach and head for the sea.
This was a real surprise for this was a very high quality beach with miles of scrupulously clean sand and a clear Baltic Sea stretching out towards Sweden over the horizon. I had expected the sea to be grey and forbidding like the North Sea of my childhood holidays but instead it was a serene denim blue with a fringe of seal grey sand and it looked genuinely inviting. Under the Communist regime up until 1991 this was a popular destination for high-level Communist Party officials and it was a favourite destination of Russian Presidents Brezhnev and Khrushchev.
We came dangerously close to another incident when we found a beach bar to stop for a drink and Alona helpfully gave menu interpretation assistance. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I am reasonably proficient in ordering a lager from a menu in almost any language in the World and there really wasn’t any difficulty at all here in translating from the Latvian ‘beer’ to English ‘beer’. Kim however interpreted the offer of help as down right interference and I think Alona came within a whisker of finding the menu deposited somewhere uncomfortable.
After the beach we separated and half the party returned to Riga and the others went to a Spa resort at a hotel and enjoyed the saunas and steam rooms, the swimming pools and Jacuzzis.
Tonight we had agreed to eat at the Maritim and when we arrived the others were waiting for us in the lobby of the hotel. At the bar there were some misbehaving Brit-louts who had been drinking heavily and were rearranging the furniture in the bar so we declined to join them in there and had a drink in the lobby instead. Eventually Nick joined us, looking pretty rough it has to be said, he clearly hadn’t recovered completely and he rejected the offer of a beer. I have no idea exactly how much he had had to drink the night before but it certainly resulted in the loss of a whole day of his holiday so it must have been a considerable amount.
The restaurant was on the top floor but it was quite a challenge to get there using a lift that absolutely refused to cooperate with our instructions; we pushed the buttons but found ourselves going up and down like an out of control yo-yo with frequent stops at floors we hadn’t requested and a couple of return visits to the lobby. We laughed and were about to give in when it stopped one floor below the restaurant and we decided that this was probably the best we could hope for and so took the stairs for the final part of the way.
The restaurant was nice but it was posh and I wasn’t really in the mood for posh. Or the posh prices either I have to confess! By Riga standards this was very pricey indeed so when Kim, after heavy prompting from me, decided that she didn’t fancy it either and left I let my mean streak take over completely and was quick to follow her example. We took a taxi into the old town and went instead to our favourite from our previous visit, the Lido pub where we had beer and wine and copious amounts of food at the sort of prices that we prefer.
We finished the evening in the top floor bar at the Albert, which on account of it being Friday was busier tonight. There were two burly bouncers at the door whose main task seemed to be to supervise the activities of the prostitutes. There were a lot of dubious looking women about looking for customers and there was a continual flow of what we took to be hookers going up and down in the lifts to the bedrooms below.
There was a lot of activity at the Hotel Albert tonight that was for sure!