Thursday, June 5, 2014

Let's Begin the Day with Chocolate: Exploration of Kurzeme Continues

Two of my favorite foods are chocolate - preferably a quality dark chocolate - and salmon. On our first full day in Latvia, I was happy to enjoy both. After our filling breakfast, we drove a short distance to the Pure Chocolate company. We toured the (free) museum, which focuses on the history of chocolate, and is quite interesting. Some bits were a bit illogical, but generally it was a nice little museum, and the building itself is intriguing.
Entrance area of the Pure chocolate museum
Honest words of a chocoholic
Cocoa beans have been used as currency!
Then we tackled the important thing - visiting the company store, which offers a plethora of fresh Pure products. In addition to beautifully packaged chocolates, they also sell large inexpensive bags of rejected truffles -- the chocolates that did not pass the quality inspection, but still taste good. We know that for a fact because B bought a bag of milk chocolate truffles with a white chocolate filling, which we enjoyed over the next several days whenever we had a hankering for something sweet.
Steps away from the main building, the company has built a cute cafe. Apparently it can be rented for special events. Hmm, I should host my next birthday party here?
Pure Chocolate Cafe - love the windows which afford view of Latvian countryside
With copious amounts of sugar in our possession, we continued on our way to Sabile. First we stopped in the middle of town to wonder about the strange doll exhibit about which my friend S had told me. Apparently the people who own and run this bizarre attraction change the clothing on the dolls occasionally, as clothes do fade and tatter in the weather.
This one is especially for my Bulgarian friends!

Even dolls need to iron!
Easily the strangest photo we have from Latvia!
Then we visited the Pedvale Open-Air Art Museum, which took two tries to locate, including driving back into the town of Sabile to chat with the young woman at the tourist information office (I can imagine that our inquiry was possibly the only one she received that day!). So, if you ever wish to visit, when you turn off the main road at the landmark sign, follow that road for a bit until you see a smaller road or driveway on your right - it is an alley of trees - then follow that to the end, and turn right. That will lead you into the parking lot. After paying our 2,15 Euro entrance fees, we walked through the fields checking out a number of the sculptures.
The helpful woman at tourist office had given us a couple of other suggestions to check out in the area, yet the only one we decided to see was the falls on the Abava river ("Abavas rumba"). I had already warned B that waterfalls in Latvia are not comparable to those in the States. Having seen this waterfall before, I had a vague recollection of it being cute and not much else. Judge for yourself!
After playing on the playground located near the falls - and one of us suffering a minor but rather painful injury - we moved on, making our first stop a grocery store to purchase a bag of frozen vegetables to use as an ice pack for the injury.

This post has gotten so long that I will write about the remainder of the day in another! (Although writing a blog is fun, the process is also time-consuming, so you might be reading about this trip for the rest of the month as I break it up into manageable parts.)


  1. I've always thought of rumba being more of a 'rumble' than a waterfall - how many ūdenskritumi have you seen in Latvija? Better question, how many extra suitcases did you pack with Pure chocolate for the return trip to the States? OK, and the Sabile dolls? Easily something out of a nightmare...

    1. I specifically looked up 'rumba', but the dictionary said 'falls'. Or rapids...and not being an expert, this one little thing doesn't seem like 'rapids' to me! The Ventas rumba, however, is always referred to as Europe's longest waterfall. :) However, Latvija being as flat as it is - definitely not known for waterfalls! My one suitcase did come dangerously close to being over the weight limit upon return - 22,4 kgs out of the allowed 23 kilos. I definitely limited myself in terms how many souvenirs and gifts I bought.

  2. That was no minor injury, it hurt for 3-4 days. I still have a knot on my leg from hitting the pole.

    Pedvale was interesting, but I thought there would be more sculptures and not just mostly open land. The little river that ran through it was quite nice.

    And you must have forgotten about the truffles after a few days, that 1/2 kilo lasted me until just before we left.

    1. I was just trying to not alarm my readers. It was 'minor' in that it didn't require a trip to the emergency room. :)

      You're right, I did forget about the truffles - maybe mostly because I prefer dark chocolate. That was a BIG bag, i.e. it should have lasted a while.

  3. I like the sound of that chocolate museum!

    Haha, yes, that waterfall is definitely "cute". :-)

    1. Interestingly, it is now one of two chocolate museums in Latvia!

      Later in the trip, when I visited with local relatives, I showed them photos from Yellowstone's Upper Falls, which is 33m high. They were impressed. :-)


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