On saturday I had rainy weather in Riga. So I got to the railway museum.
On friday I had the next orienteering competition.
The location was a little bit remote so the organizers provided a shuttle service from the railway station in Sigulda to the campsite.
Most of the checkpoints were placed on spots in the swamp. And like in the rest of Europe it had not rained there recently. So the swamp was pretty dried out. So it was like orienteering in a forest with a lot of undergrowth and few significant terrain structures. So good compass work was your friend – well it is not my friend as I must confess. And the second checkpoint already was some kind of catastrophe to me. And it continued that way. So had a bad race. And was finally happy to finish the race in time.
After two day with orienteering competitions, I had one day free. So I decided to go for a short visit to Talinn. So I took the bus at 6 in the morning and drove up 4 hours to Talinn.
Slept most of the time in the bus.
Talinn is a very interesting city. It has one very modern parts, but as well real old city centre with defence walls on a hill about the upper part of the old city and down the hill the lower part. All parts of the old city you have narrow streets with neat small shops and cafes. In the old town there is in the upper part the president’s palace. At the lower part you have the main square with an old Gothic city call in the middle. Really awesome!
A bit outside the old town there is the harbour and the modernized storehouses where now are stylish cafes and bars.
Wonderful city, but I had to go back to Riga in the evening — again a 4-hour bus ride.
Got up early that day at 5:30 to take the train to Sigulda. 3 kilometres outside of Sigulda was the next Orienteering event.
So when the train arrived after 80 minutes drive I had to walk a bit to the orienteering camp. On the way suddenly I saw a big building. When I got nearer, I recognized well yes that must be the bob sled run. Standing there I was quite impressed about the first curve.
The camp was as well in some kind of winter resort. In summer, it is mainly used by mountain bikers. The course was very interesting, great topography with lot of altitude, dense wood. In the last part there were some bingo controls in very dense forest with a lot of undergrowth.
And well yes I learned don’t try to run in to deep mud: I was just running up a small creek because there was my second but last control, and suddenly I sucked in deep with both feet. I got out but the mud pulled me out of my shoes. So now I had to be quick and managed to recover my shoes from the mud … phew.
After all this action I sat down took a breath and took on my completely muddy shoes again. Then I finished the race, just happy to come out of it with all my clothes on 😉
The next orienteering event within the Latvia-O-Week was a forest sprint in the Ethnographic Open Air Museum. So I took a public bus to the museum.
The event there was really cool. At the finish they had a medieval band playing old Latvian songs and a lot of people in traditional Latvian costumes. And everywhere were old houses, boats, a windmill. I put my clothes under a medieval market booth which was not in use and went to the start.
My race was not good I had problems with the first two controls and with some controls at the end of the race. But well was fast enough not to be ranked last.
The National Library of Latvia is an impressive building, just opposite to the old town on the other shore of Daugava river.
The Start of the competition was in the basement.
I was really puzzled when I got that map:
I needed about 15 minutes to get out how I can reach my first control point. Never had such a map before … uff.
So I got upstairs till the 12th floor to hange theee the staircase and went down again. I exercised through a lot of stairs this day.
After I finished the first course I got a second map which was at the same level of difficulty.
So it took me more than 3 hours until I gave up … could not see any stairs anymore … sorry.
After I had participated in my first competition at Kronvalda Park in Riga, I went to the World Orienteering Championship Sprint Finals on the main square in old town in Riga. There was start and finish of the race for each runner. It was really impressive to see how focussed the elite runners are. And a lot of runners do have their own fan club, so there were a lot of spectators from Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, etc. They really rocked the square and made a good atmosphere.
The first highlight was then to see the start and tremendous finish of Maja Alm. She won the women’s race.
Afterwards heavy rain started, which made the course even more challenging for the men’s race, because the cobblestone pavement got really slippery.
Finally, Daniel Hubmann was the best and the swiss spectators celebrated him. It was really great to see all the famous orienteering elite runners there. It was really an awesome event – well with a lot of rain, but who bothers.
Besides the kind reader of this blog now might know that I am a train nerd. My second most beloved hobby is orienteering.
It is mostly a sport directly in the nature. This is the old challenge how to survive in the wild. It is not a “me versus nature“ thing, because in most cases you are faster when you find out how you can use nature to find your way through an undergrowth part or use a trunk as bridge through a river.
The other challenge is that you have to be in good physical and mental shape. The physical shape for running and the mental part for orienteering: identify features from the map in reality, realize errors early and adapt your course.
If one of these two components is missing, you suck. And these two components are very hard to align with each other: If you run to heavy the mental capability sinks because the oxygen is consumed by the muscles for running.
That why I like orienteering so much: it challenges me and it makes me happy to be in nature.
Date: 2018-08-03 till 2018-08-13
When I first came to Riga with all its buildings of 19th century, it reminded a bit of down town Vienna. Then I encountered this old wood-made houses in between the other buildings which gives the city really a unique touch.
Well the first thing after a shower I went to the old town in the city centre. Well this mixture of buildings from medieval ages, art nouveau, small streets unique but very touristy shops, restaurants and bars. First I circled through the streets gut to the Blackheads House then to the dome square, which mostly looked like a big beer garden with teddy bears. Afterwards I went down to Daugava river. On the other side you see a big Latvian flag and a great modern building — the national library. The other really cool thing is you still have the big market halls in Riga. Here you find really cool things to buy and eat. One of my really favourite spots there. I liked it very much just going through the town to the market hall just for breakfast or lunch. The market is still open on Sundays — even other shops in Riga stay open.
In Riga, you can really find food in any price category. Once I even was at the famous self-service restaurant called “Lido“, they have really good food!
There are now popping up as well the micro-breweries with different tastes. I went to two of them: Alkimikis and Labientis. Both had great beer any an interesting variety. At Alkimikis you even can get good food as well!
In the morning got up at 5am. Did not get a lot of sleep that night, because it was really hot in the room. And the other guy came back drunk at 2:30 and snoring all night long. So I was happy to leave the room.
On the way to the commuter train station I bought something to eat right in front of it, because there was an old lady selling home-made rolls. That would be fine for the long bus ride.
Coming to the main bus station there were not many people, so I set outside right at the platform and enjoyed the morning sun. When the bus arrived I checked in my luggage and went to my seat. The seat besides mine was empty, so I could use the extra space. The bus drove eastward to Bialystok first to pick up some people. I used the first part of the right to get some sleep. And at each longer stop I went off the bus to stretch my legs.
Right before the border to Lithuania a young lady came who booked the seat besides me. Well could have been worse.
We made a stop at Mariampole and Kaunas. And finally after 12 hours ride reached Riga.