Rumskys Repositioned from the Caribbean to Europe and Back Again travel blog

Jurmala's City Museum is well worth the visit.

Fun dioramas display the early 1900's beachy lifestyle

Such a pretty pedestrian street lined with wooden art nouveau houses

I just can't seem to stay off these fun metal statues!

The Baltic sea water is chilly but inviting.

A nice boardwalk for strolling along the coast

We make a point to check out the poet Aspazija in nearby...

The lovely home's exterior beacons...

Fun modern touches literally bring the poet and her cats to life!

Dubulti has the best train station ever!

During our awesome free walking tour of Riga, our guide highly recommended a day trip to Jurmala. (Side note: These free walking tours are quickly becoming a thing in major cities. Fran and I always inquire about them, google them, and take them whenever we can. The price is free with the expectation that a nice tip, like US$7-10pp, is appropriate if the guide is good. We've generally loved them with only one bad experience, in Transnistria, Moldova.) Train information can be readily obtained (in English) from the information center in Riga's Blackheads House, and it is an easy and pleasant trip from Riga to see a bit of the surrounding countryside. Once in Jurmala, stop in at the tourist information center, right across from the Majori train station. They can provide excellent maps and all kinds of information about the surrounding areas...if you like nature and culture, there is enough to see to warrant an overnighter!

Jurmala is special for two reasons. First, the intricate, festive wooden art nouveau houses provide a cozy side note to the impressive, regal architecture found in the capital. Apparently there are over 4000 wooden structures in the Jurmala area, which originally served at lavish summer cottages in the early 1900's. After two wars and communism, a lot of these structures are in various stages of disrepair. Still, the Soviets planted sanatoriums in the town and actually ordered workers to take advantage of the health benefits there. Recently, a revival in the economy (thanks in part to EU money) means that a lot of these homes have been renovated and are well worth exploring. We began with some background information at the highly recommended Jurmala City Museum (which has some special exhibits for kids of all ages), and then strolled down the delightful pedestrian street which runs parallel to the waterfront. Seeking out the metal turtle landmark, we dipped our feet in the Baltic Sea and roamed the boardwalk, with a glance at the still-functioning Soviet sanatorium, so out of place amongst the wooden houses.

We brought sandwiches to keep costs low, but there were some inviting restaurants and kiosks en route that provided lots of food offerings. We had a bit of a mission, as we decided to walk for two miles or so to the neighboring town of Dubulti to explore the home of Aspazija, a famous Latvian poet. Again, we highly recommend this museum as a way to round out guests' understanding of how people lived during that time period. Families would love the way modern technology brought to life the poet and her cats. Information is provided in English, and the best bits are understandable in any language.

Our time was limited to a day trip, so we headed to the Dubulti train station, near the poet's home and just one stop beyond Majori along the line away from Riga. We read or heard something about there being some art at the station, but didn't think much of it. Talk about an almost missed opportunity! There are three art installations at the time of our visit. One was a "smell" experience of places all over the world. Another showed all kinds of underwater creatures, viewed from the comfort of a soft water bed. A third had some sea life displays but we totally ran out of time to thoroughly look at it before our train came. Even the tracks were pleasant, as they were along a picturesque water way. Time permitting, visits can be made to nearby wetlands and viewpoints, as well as a fisherman's village and open air museum. We really enjoyed our time in Jurmala and are so thankful to our Riga guide for recommending this awesome side trip! Do GO!

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