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  • Writer's pictureRichard Mark Dobson

Road to Tallin Part 1. (What stories Riga has to tell! )

"Ah, Riga, the heart of Latvia! A city that wears its history like a well-worn cloak, each cobblestone a witness to tales untold and as if they've absorbed the footsteps of travelers of centuries past."

These words echo the sentiment of five intrepid travelers who found their way to Riga—a pivotal waypoint on their epic cycling journey from Vilnius to Oslo.

After six days of pedaling, Riga awaited them like a welcoming embrace, offering the promise of recharge and rest. But this city is no ordinary stop; it's a canvas that blends the past and present.

From the ornate elegance of Art Nouveau to the grandeur of Gothic architecture, Riga tells stories in every arch and spire.

Latvian Academy of Sciences building

The Freedom Monument

Riga Old Evangelical Lutheran Church

And what stories Riga has to tell!

For Ajmal Samuel, a man who conquers challenges on his hand cycle, Riga's significance runs even deeper. As he lay sleeping in the Avalon hotel, opposite the Riga bus station, his dreams assumed —a tapestry of deja vu impressions that whispered of his past in Europe. Memories of a life-changing accident mingled with memories of Germany, and rekindling his spirit of resilience, that which carried him through.

In his dream he spoke to people, those who he met on the street and those that appeared at windows to look back at him with curiosity. He the strange man on a strange cycle. He asked the people and they whispered to him their history;

That Riga, Latvia's jewel on the Baltic, has weathered the storms of time with a resilient spirit. Founded in 1201, its medieval roots intertwined with the tapestry of Northern Europe.

Dzirnavu iela

As the centuries unfolded, Riga bore witness to the waves of empire, enduring Swedish, Polish, and Russian rule. The 20th century unveiled some of its most challenging chapters—a stage for the turmoil of World War I, a brief but intense period of independence, and then the heartrending grasp of Soviet occupation followed by Nazi incursion.

The subsequent return of Soviet rule cast a shadow, but Riga's courage persevered.

The late 1980s saw the "Singing Revolution," a peaceful movement that catalyzed Latvia's independence in 1991. The city blossomed anew, embracing democratic rebirth and a vibrant cultural revival. In its journey from medieval trading hub to modern metropolis, Riga's history bears the marks of trials and triumphs, a testament to the indomitable spirit of its people.

Riga's spirit, it seems, resides in every corner. Past and present converge, creating a tapestry that rests in dreams and awakens in reality—a city that beckons all to rest, recharge, and dream anew.

In Ajmal's dream, he traverses Riga yet again on a cool, cloudy morning.

Amid the symphony of the city, he meets Maria, a 84 year-old seated in a wheelchair by a traffic light intersection. Her paper cup, a poignant symbol of her hardship, tugs at Ajmal's heart, for he is a man who knows all about the struggles in life. He feels compelled to stop and greet her. And offers a Euro note, dropped in a paper cup, a small token of goodwill towards another soul that has not been so fortunate.

But time is pressing. He has a long way to go. Riga to Salacgriva is 104 km away.

He calls out, "Maria, we have to go. Do look after yourself and God will look after you".

He calls again to his travel companions. "Let's go"!

Maria with a radiant smile echoes his words, "Let's go, Let's go, Let's go" she repeats, and waves Ajmal a heartfelt goodbye.

Road to Tallin Part 2 will continue tomorrow.

Distance Covered

Day 1 - Klaipeda to Sventāja 42.89Km

Day 2 - Sventājato Liepāja 62.11Km

Day 3 - Liepāja to Kuldīga 97.34Km

Day 4 - Kuldiga to Plieņciema kāpa 108.59Km

Day 5 - Plieņciema kāpa to Riga 60.14Km

Day 6- Riga Rest and Recharge


Join the expedition, follow updates, and tag along on this inspiring adventure."

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