North by Northwest (Kleisti and Buļļi)

The Easter weekend was a bumper one for me, with six districts done. After the fun of the Salas, I was inspired enough for more. So, on Easter Monday, with the temperature outside hitting 21 degrees, when Zanda suggested lake or beach, I said “both!” Kleisti and Buļļi, the next two districts on the list, are tiddlers in Riga terms, with just over 200 people, making them the fifth and sixth smallest districts in the city. The few people that live there are mostly Latvian. Kleisti is 71% Latvian and Buļļi is 82%, the highest figure in the city. That’s kind of ironic, since the only way to get to Buļļi by land is to go through Daugavgriva, the least Latvian district in the city. (Who says Latvians and Russians can’t live side by side?)

Kleisti is pretty empty, a large bit of woodland with a few cottages here and there in the middle of it, looking like something out of a Brothers Grimm fairytale.

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There was one grey tower block. I guess there are people who want to enjoy the comfort of Soviet era housing and the inconvenience of being miles from anywhere.

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So should you just drive through Kleisti and keep going, or are there, to coin a phrase, mushrooms to be picked here? More the second. Kleisti has a couple of riverside and small lakeside destinations which are less well-known than the lakes out the east of Riga. There’s a lake in what used to be a quarry which I was going to swim in until I realised that I couldn’t feel my legs and further on, on Kleisti Iela, a riverside bit which is obviously popular with the locals when there is good weather.

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Sadly, there’s not a shop to be seen, let alone a cafe. With such amazing entertainment nearby in Bolderaja, who needs it?

We hit the high road for Buļļi, an awkward place to get to, as it’s on an island with only one road connection. This isn’t a place many locals go and the beaches at the end of the Bullupe and Lielupe rivers were pretty empty. Mostly fishermen and a few locals. As we were walking along, ahead of us one lady was strolling awkwardly along the sand in chunky heeled boots. “Look, there’s someone Linda would write about!” said Zanda, referring to our neighbour’s coat.

(Warning: the image below is not suitable for people with leopard print allergies.)

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Later, on the way back down, we found that our new friend had swapped her clunky boots for a pair of more practical stiletto ankle boots.

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Now, women’s beach fashion in Latvia is not something I will ever claim to be an expert on, but that seemed a little unusual to me. Great man bag too!

If Kleisti resembled the Brothers Grimm, Ritabuļļi looks like somewhere shipwrecked sailors would end up,

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a tiny windswept shoreline, with the trees showing the result of being stuck at the edge of two rivers.

We’d long given up hope of finding any cafe up here, so grabbing the nearest tree, we sat down to have a beer

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and watch the world go by.

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It is a bit of a surprise more locals don’t come to this part of the world. It’s quiet and feels more like a fishing village in the middle of nowhere than a district of a European capital city. The isolation helps and people prefer the beaches at Jurmala, on the other side of the photos below.

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With regret, it was time to say goodbye to Buļļi. It may not be the most happening place for entertainment, but it’s a nice spot to relax on a warmer day.

So, another Latvian Easter had come to an end. Zanda had presented me with proper painted eggs, a tradition that, sadly, people over the age of 6 in the UK and Ireland don’t do. What’s cooler, this

Easter eggs Irish style

Easter eggs Irish style

or this?

Easter eggs Latvian style

Easter eggs Latvian style

I know which one I prefer. Sorry, Ireland.

44 districts done, 14 left.

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3 thoughts on “North by Northwest (Kleisti and Buļļi)

  1. Well spotted Zanda! If I ever need an assistant, you’ll be the first person I’ll call 😉 And sorry, but I’d still take the chocolate John 😉

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