When I started studying the possibile places I wanted to see in Latvia, I soon stumbled upon Cape Kolka. I decided not to keep the best for last, and after I arrived at the airport and rented a car, steered directly towards the northwestern most point of the country. I had a vague sense of what I would be seeing - and as so often happens, things turned out to be different. I was just one day late for the midsummer festivities; all cars were going south (back to the city) while I headed north. The weather was great, and when I arrived in Kolka, there was still time to reach the cape well before sunset, even though it was after 9.30pm. A newfound friend joined me, and when we walked through the woods, we saw an orange glow through the trees. When we stepped onto the beach, we saw that we were lucky: the sun was about to drop below the clouds. To my surprise, there was almost no one on the beach. Where I had expected some wild cape with cliffs, Cape Kolka turned out to be just a sandy stretch of beach, with some boulders marking the spot. At these latitudes, the sun does not go down fast, so we had time to enjoy the slow sinking of the powerful planet. The sky turned a fiery red, orange and yellow, before the bright colours slowly died down. It would still take a long time before the fire in the sky would extinguish completely.
A few hours later, we were on our way to the beach again for sunrise, and found wooden poles in the sea, each of them topped by a seagull. Some were screaming in the air, none seemed to be aware of the spectacle of the sun rising through the clouds. The poles seemed to be floating on an orange pool. We walked back through the ruins of buildings; there are a lot of abandoned buildings in the region, which was closed off during the Soviet occupation. After a few hours sleep, we woke up to a bright and sunny day, and were on our way to Mazirbe, one of the few villages in Slītere National Park where the ancient language of the Lviv is still spoken. We hiked through the pine forest and over the sand dunes to the beach, and took another way to return. We saw the old wooden houses, but several times, felt unwelcome by women who talked to us in tone that sounded unfriendly - but which might have been that old, slowly dying language, apparently only spoken by 30 people here.
When we arrived at the famous old red Slītere lighthouse, a friendly woman interrupted her sunbathing, sold us our tickets, showed us that the nature trail we had wanted to do, was closed for renovation, and excuses herself to get back to further improve her suntan. We walked the wooden stairs to the top, with small exhibions on the floors, and found ourselves high above the treeline. The binoculars borrowed by the woman were useful now: we could look at Saaremaa island (Estonia) to the north. The views were perfect, and great: the woods below, the pastures, the farm houses dispersed on the land: we could see Slitere Park in its entirety. We opened all the small windows of the lighthouse, both for better viewing and for some fresh air. Once upon a time, the coastline ran just here; the small fault in the terrain was right below us. Once back on the ground, we drove over dusty roads towards the east, in time for my friend to catch her 12.52 bus to Riga and Lithuania. I went to the cliffs at Evarzi, the very border of Slītere National Park, and returned to Cape Kolka which now had many more visitors who were enjoying the bright sunlight.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Slītere National Park (Latvia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Slītere National Park. Read more about this site.