Wintry beaches and a deserted town
15.06.2011 - 15.06.2011 20 °C
After exploring the delights of Riga, today, we find ourselves on a slow train to the Baltics’ version of the French Riviera, Jūmala. Well, that would be true if it were warmer, lot more stylish and open. Mid-June and the air temperature is little higher than 20c. Disembarking at Majori the town has the feel of an English seaside resort in winter. Buildings are still being repaired, flower beds planted and the beach deserted - apart from a few hardy souls (including yours truly) dressed in what could easily pass as winter walking gear!
The area is billed as a magnet for day-tripping Rigans and Russian oil tycoons retreating to their stately wooden beach house estates.
On the beach preparations were underway for the Latvian National Volleyball Championship later in the month, one only hopes the wind drops and the sun rises before then! Strolling along Jūras iela some of the colorful art nouveau wooden houses, distinguished by frilly awnings, detailed facades and elaborate towers that, beside its beach, are Jūmala’s main attraction are clearly visible. The majority appear dilapidated or abandoned, yet some are beautifully renovated and others brand new.
Jūmala’s first Spa opened in 1938, and since then, the area has been known as the Spa capital of the Baltic countries. As the balneological resort developed a direct railroad line, to Moscow, was built. In the summer of 1950 as many as 29 sanitoriums, promoting both the salt water and sea air, were open. By the 1980-ies Jūmala was ranked 3rd, within the Soviet Union, after resorts such as Sochi and Yalta, welcoming more than 300,000 persons a year.
Yet, for our visit we obviously caught Jūmala on a bad day. Feeling more closed than open we managed a couple of short but blustery walks on the beach before catching our train and returning to the relative warmth of Riga.