The search for Pine Cone Mountain

After a two month gap, the next district on my list was Čiekurkalns, which translates as Pine Cone Mountain or Pine Cone Hill. The main question was, does Ciekurkalns deserve its evocative name or were the people who named it from the same school of thought that give crap bars in Daugavgriva names like Cafe Paradize and Summer cafe? On 12 July, I headed there with Zanda to find out.

The introduction to the district comes at Čiekurkalns market, a fairly small and grubby building

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that isn’t even in Čiekurkalns proper. It’s on the Teika side of the railway line which divides the two districts. There’s one iffy looking bar/cafe there beside the newsagent if you need a stiff drink before venturing further.

Čiekurkalns comes in several distinct bits. The area along Viskalu Iela starts off with a few run down tower blocks

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before giving way to an uninhabited industrial zone.

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No people, pine cones or mountains here. It gets better though. Following Ezermalas Iela onwards leads to a reasonably green and pleasant woodland and creek

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which further on opens up into the Ķīšezers, one of eastern Riga’s large lakes. Around here, there’s some road renovation going on, with what looks like a bus terminus beside a sandy lakeside area.

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A fifty-something couple were splashing around in the lake, kissing and canoodling like lovestruck teenagers, his Stalin moustache covered in lake foam as he whispered sweet nothings into her ear. I almost hated to break up the party, but I wanted to see how the lake was, so waddled in myself.

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With the weather on the day looking suspect, the water wasn’t that warm, so I waddled back out, leaving the two lovebirds to it.

The only cafe in the place was closed at 1730 on a Saturday evening. It seems that local alcos there have to make use of one of the corner shops. I bought a bottle there and we headed back towards Ezermalas Iela and civilisation. The flats on the way were a mix of older and newer types.

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I stopped near one of Čiekurkalns’ linijas (small lanes which the district’s streets are numbered by) for the obligatory drink in the district photo.

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Heading along this street, things get a bit better. There are a lot of wooden houses and a few cobbled streets, an improvement on some of the shabbier older flats found out here.

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The district was mostly deserted as we walked through. In Saturdays in July, a lot of Rigans head for their country houses. Our only company was the doggie who watched our progress as he perilously balanced on the edge of an upstairs window.

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It was time to say goodbye to Pine Cone Mountain, which is a total misnomer. There are no mountains or hills here and the Čiekurkalners will never be big in the pine cone export market any time soon.

With seven districts after this, this is my last week of this blog project. I’ll probably do a summary of all districts after that and when I do, I suspect Pine Cone Mountain will be somewhere around 20th. It’s a sprawling district, tatty in parts, lodged between the more interesting Teika and the more attractive lakeside and Mezaparks regions, though the lake and areas around the second and ninth linijas rescue it a bit.

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7 districts left.

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “The search for Pine Cone Mountain

  1. Actually, the ‘newer’ flat block on the picture is almost definitely the same type as the ‘older’ one. The ‘newer’ one has simply been insulated. It’s actually kind of amazing that all it takes to make these khruschebas look okay is a layer of polystyrene and a proper paint-job.

    • Haha! Yes, it looked more modern to me, I didn’t realise that they’d just given it a fresh coat of paint. I think that’s all a lot of these places need. There are old buildings in a lot of cities and half them don’t look as rubbish as some of the ones in Riga’s suburbs.

      • Actually. the insulation itself makes the buildings look better, too – the layer is thick enough for the windows to appear to be in niches – which is a significant improvement over the usual case of windows being on exactly the same level as the walls. These buildings look much cosier and eye-catching with such niches.

        These buildings aren’t called khruschebas for nothing – the ugliness of most of the Soviet-era buildings in Riga (and elsewhere) is a direct consequence of construction regulations introduced in the Soviet Union during the rule of Khruschev aimed at removing the ‘excesses’ in architecture.

        In contrast, the comparatively little Stalinist architecture there is in Riga is (at least) okay-looking, and decently designed – even if it’s humble post-war residential buildings.

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