I think one of the reasons I like the northern part of Europe so much is that it reminds me of where I grew up in northern Michigan. The photo above of a small road near our hotel, looks just like my hometown in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is strange however that the latitudes are so different. For example, Belgrade has a latitude of about 44 degrees north, the same as central Michigan. But, it has the climate of Washington DC, which is much further south. Meanwhile, Riga, with a latitude of 55 degrees north, is much like Michigan and much warmer than its equivalent latitude in North America.
Below I wrote some final thoughts on beautiful Latvia.
Our Lithuanian friends showed Eric and I the proper way to do the Baltic Spa. Because of the high latitudes, the winters are long, dark, and cold. The Latvians love taking a sauna and spend time at Wellness Spas. It was a refreshing experience.
First they took us to a steam room and our guide went in the middle of the steam room and twirled a towel around, pushing the hot steam at us. We then went out and jumped into a cool mini-pool. We went back in for a second time and this time he put ice on us as we lay down in the steam room. That was followed by a cold/hot foot bath. We then did a bit of sauna (there were three temperature saunas – 60 – 80 and 110 degrees Celsius) and finished up with a “salt steam treatment.” In this room we took salt and rubbed it all over our skin. We finished up with a shower. I felt really good afterwards. The cold Baltic air really got to my core on the walking tour of the city of Riga. I can see why the people of the northern countries like saunas so much.
The city of Riga is nice, although it is not much different from many European capitals. I did notice that there is more of a Russian presence in Latvia than in Lithuania and Estonia. There were many old cathedrals and buildings and quaint walkway and cobblestone streets. The Latvians like to put totem animals on the façade and on the roof of their buildings. The rooster has a special significance during pagan times and so you see many roosters on the buildings.
We had a nice last day. Between getting some work done, I went for a run and touched the water of the Baltic Sea one more time. There were lots of people walking on the snow covered beach on Sunday. It was a warm, gorgeous day. I went in the sauna one last time.
I’m getting a better understanding of the northern part of Europe. I like the coniferous forests, saunas, herbal drinks, healthy lifestyle, etc. I don’t like how quiet and dour they seem, although there are exceptions. I would love to take my family to the far north for a holiday before we leave Europe.