Last Latvian Summer

img_4098As the sun rises later and sets earlier with each passing day, Mother Nature announces that fall has arrived, with her crisp breezes and turning leaves. Even though autumn is my favorite season, its arrival this year is a cruel reminder that our remaining days in beautiful Latvia are quickly slipping away. With only about nine months left in our tour here in Riga, our last Baltic summer has officially come to an end. We spent a good chunk of it with family and friends who came to visit us, and proudly showed them the city and country that have become our home over the last eighteen months. We snapped countless photos along the way so that we could forever cherish the true wonder that is summer in Latvia. Here are 50 of my favorites. 

Somewhat unique to this part of the world are the nights when the sun barely sets. There is nothing quite like taking a midnight stroll surrounded by pink and orange hues on the horizon.

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The first day of summer, June 20, 2016, 12:13 am.

This year, we celebrated Jaņi, or Latvian summer solstice, at home with good friends and good food. For the first time in my entire life, I stayed up all night and saw with my own eyes as the sun sank below the skyline for just a few minutes before it began to rise again.

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Jaņi sunrise, June 24, 2016, 2:55 am.

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The Daugava River glows at 3:35 am, June 24, 2016.

Summer in Riga is an absolute delight, with photo opportunities at every turn.

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Some of Riga’s oldest buildings bask in the post-thunderstorm sunlight.

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This post-thunderstorm puddle created a perfect reflection pool for St. John’s Church in Old Riga.

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The front facade of St. Peter’s Church.

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I heart Riga indeed.

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Riga’s November 11 Embankment. November 11, or Lačplēša Day, marks the defeat of the Army of Bermont in 1918 during Latvia’s long road to independence.

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Summer in Riga means boats aplenty lined up along the Daugava waiting to take passengers on river cruises throughout the day and night.

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One of my favorite vantage points to take a snapshot of St. Peter’s Church.

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Riga’s mid-July 10:30 pm sunsets never get old.

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The (Catholic) Church of Our Lady of Sorrow against a clear night sky at 11:17 pm on July 9, 2016.

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Old Riga’s beautiful skyline on a summer evening.

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Freedom Monument, or Milda, stands proudly on an early August morning.

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Free entertainment at Freedom Monument.

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A sea of colorful flowers in Bastejkalna Park.

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Catching a glimpse of Riga’s famed opera house.

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Canal rides through Old Riga are a popular way to spend a summer afternoon.

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One of Riga’s quintessential landmarks, House of the Blackheads, never ceases to impress me each time I see it.

This summer, we managed to do a bit of exploring outside of Riga, with visits to Ventspils and Cēsis, among other places.

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Our faithful Frieda is always up for a road trip.

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Nikolay Lutheran Church sits in the main square in Ventspils.

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Ventspils, about 2.5 hours from Riga by car, is Latvia’s largest port city.

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Ventspils’ boulevards were decorated with beautiful flower arrangements and numerous cow sculptures, which are remnants of Ventspils’ CowParade art exhibit in 2002.

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The beach at Ventspils.

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The Livonian castle in Cēsis, about 50 miles northeast of Riga, is more than 800 years old.

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St. John’s Church, Cēsis.

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Hints of autumn begin to appear in Cēsis in mid-September.

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Cēsis castle.

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Charming Cēsis is situated within Latvia’s Gauja National Park.

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The Cēsis Manor House, or “new” castle, dates back to the 18th century.

Of course, summertime in Riga is the best time for long runs under clear blue skies and seemingly endless sunshine. I ran some of my highest mileage ever this past summer, peaking at 258 miles for the month of July, as I trained for an ultramarathon in Cēsis.

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Running along Kipsala’s cobblestoned street in my own neighborhood is something I never take for granted. I will miss this scene tremendously when we leave.

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My favorite street art mural, just around the corner from our house.

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A panorama of Riga just before a morning thunderstorm, taken from Vanšu Bridge.

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This sweet mama duck and her babies hang out among the lily pads.

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A peaceful scene in the forest during my marathon training run in July.

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The colors of the Latvian flag decorate this tree on the trail to Jurmala.

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Trail running through an open field in Piņķi.

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This canopy of green trees provided some much needed shade on a warm day.

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Stopping for a mid-run snack of fresh, wild black currants.

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A forest run near Kalngale Beach.

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Running on Kalngale Beach on a cloudy Saturday morning.

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Morning in Cēsis during my ultramarathon in August.

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At the finish line of the Cēsis ECO Trail 81km ultra.

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With M. at the finish line of the Stirnu buks 22 km trail race near Tukums.

Another highlight of our summer was a visit to Riga from Vice President Joe Biden. Though he was here for only a day, I managed to catch a glimpse of him during his brief stop at Freedom Monument.

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Waiting for Mr. Vice President to make his appearance.

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Vice President Biden walks with the presidents of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.

One thing I’ll always remember so fondly about our time in Riga is our quaint, peaceful neighborhood and all of the walks we have enjoyed in it.

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Sunset over our neighborhood in late August.

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This sunflower says hello to me as I walk by.

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A friendly patch of sunflowers brightens up this cloudy day.

I ended the summer with a plan to make the most of our remaining time in Riga and especially its endless running opportunities by signing up for the next Riga Marathon, set for May 14, 2017. I went to the Riga Marathon Commitment Day on September 13 to make it official. While I typically count down the days leading up to a marathon with excitement, this time is different, because it would also mean counting down the precious few months we have left in Riga.

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Riga Marathon Commitment Day. Forty-two kilometers of Riga – my third and final marathon in this city (for a while, at least) – await me in May, just a few weeks before we will pack up our belongings and move on to our next adventure.

While I can’t stop time from moving forward, at least I’ll have these photos to look back upon with sweet, sweet memories of our last Latvian summer.

Thank you for reading!

 

7 thoughts on “Last Latvian Summer

  1. Thanks for writing such a nice story. I too am very glad to have experienced that wonderful country. You have been very fortunate to experience all the seasons, the beautiful countryside, and many historical sites. Your pictures are beautiful too. I hope your future assignments are just as rewarding!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful pictures Deena. I’m so glad we were able to visit you and share your beautiful surroundings. Plus, it was comforting for me to know you and Matty are so happy in this lovely country. Enjoy and make the most of your remaining time there. Lots of love,
    Mom

    Liked by 1 person

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