04.02.15 - Guillaume
– Phone cards
If you need to buy a phone card, go to a Rimi store, there are several phone companies there you can buy cards from.
Liepaja is a city that serves as an access point to the sea, so it hold strategic value. There’s a song about Liepaja that is represented all along the street by statues, and it tells the story of how rooted its locals are to their land, despite the winds.
I found the same pride here as in Tartu, the second city in Estonia, the same manner of conmpeting against the capital for the number one spot.
There are 86 000 residents in Liepaja. The city emptied out a lot these last few years because a lot of Latvians go to England or Ireland for work, or to Riga.
There’s a certain atmosphere of peace and culture there. The locals like their city a lot.
There’s a very popular Latvian « Facebook », even more so than the regular Facebook for some : frype.
I was told that even though Liepaja’s residents like to go do their shopping at Akropolis, Klaipeda‘s massive mall, the Lithuanian fishermen, however, come for the fishing in Liepaja.
The sculpture underneath illustrates the hymn of the city.
– Ezera Maja (Lake House)
Ezera street 39
Phone: +371 26488200
Awesome B&B, comfortable bed, the room too. The house is made of wood, it’s charming, even though very simple. I had a view overlooking the backyard.
Andis Demantis was my guide, and he was passionate about urban exploration: you can count on him if you want to go explore the old military base built by the Tsar, or anything else.
– The music notes on the sidewalks
Every interesting spot is marked by a music note on the sidewalk. Liepaja claims itself as being a « musical » city.
Latvia is famous for it’s many music festivals in spring and in summer that are held outside, in the forests, etc…
The Fontaine Festival Angels in Hell (August)
Louie Fontaine being a musician (check « Places » underneath), he of course had to organize a festival.
It’s weak point is that it’s held outside, 25 km away from Liepaja, in October, when the temperatures are a bit chilly: it’s too bad because everyone told me the lineup was great.
1) St. Trinity Church
Lielā iela 9
Aparently, it’s the oldest organ to not be rebuilt in Europe, it dates back to the 18th century. You can walk up the tower for 1.50 euros, it’s ideal to get a good view of the city.
I only usually put up cultural places or promenades, but the Fontaine complex is so integrated in Liepaja’s landscape that I felt like I had to include it. Louie Fontaine, or Stean Lorens (his real name), is a Danish musician with an incredible story, too long to give here. An eccentric, he had the good instinct of buying or renting abandoned buildings in Liepaja 10-15 years ago at a low price, some waterfront. It’s become a little « empire » today, on the same dock you can find the Delisnack (the burger joint I wrote about in Riga, which I then learned originated from here), the Fontaine Hotel, the club (free, but smoking allowed), and the restaurant with food from around the world. Moored to the dock is the boat he bought (picture underneath on the left):He wants to make it a floating club, and to offer excursions in a party vibe. There are also other Fontaine hotels in the city. The locals talk about him in a benevolent and amused way, because this guy was able to find potential in Liepaja and brought a lot of dynamism to the city. A woman that lives in Liepaja told me the story of how one day she came face to face to a guy in boxers, bathrobe and slippers in one of the Fontaine bars, she was stunned, before being told that it was the boss.
Karosta is a neighborhood in the north of Liepaja which represents a third of the city. It’s a completely unique place because you can see the elegance of the Russian Tsarist military mixed with the practical Soviet militarism. It’s no longer a banned zone today, and it’s become a tourist spot to explore.
You can get there by public transit, the buses 3,4,7, and 8 or the mini-buses 1 and 3. You can also rent electric bikes during the summer, otherwise, you need a car.
There were military bases built on the coast by the Tsarist army, and they were later used by the Soviets. Something to see.
The Tsar’s old Karosta naval base
You can go alone, but I highly recommend to get a guided tour with Andis from Diggers because he’s passionate and it’s his career, he knows everything about the place. They were military bases built on the coast by the Tsarist army, and they were later used by the Soviets. It’s from here that Russian ships left to go to war with Japan at the beginning of the 20th century. Here’s an excellent article.
Saint Nicolas’ Orthodox Maritime Cathedral
Studentu rotas iela 7
Liepāja, Karosta, LV-3414
Tel : (+371) 63 45 76 34
Elle était le centre spirituel et le point d’orgue visuel de l’ancienne base navale. Elle fut construite de 1901 à 1903. It was the spiritual center and the visual culmination of the old marine base.
Invalīdu iela 4
+371 26 369 470
Entrance : 4,50 euros
Beware: visits are only at certain times, and as part of a group. The language option is chosen according to the participants’ nationality.
It was a prison mostly for Soviet military men, horrible. During the tour, you’re shown a cell in which 40 prisoners were locked in, with only room enough to stand. You can stay there for the night, like a themed hostel with the option of been waken up in the night and do the exercises they were made to do once upon a time.
4) Kungu’s Youth House
Kungu street 24
It’s not necessarily a place to visit, even though I’m sure they would gladly show you around if you were interested. I liked the concept so I wanted to tell you about it: it’s the youth house financed by the European Union, the place is beautiful, a mix between an old wooden building and a modern infrastructure. There are journalism courses offered here, and you can come use the music studio to rehearse for free. Free studio for young musicians to rehearse.
5) The Museum of Occupation
K.Ukstina Street 7/9
The Museum of Occupation is free, you can give a donation.
It’s very rich and very complete. The Ipod that serves as the audio guide (English among others) only has a 45 mins file, so it’s hard to skip steps, and so it’s possible you wont last the entire time. It’s still very interesting for anyone who’s never seen this type of museum, and also because there are Latvian cultural objects like these posters, from the time creativity exploded, particularly graphic art, when the Soviet bloc fell.
6) The beach
Liepaja is the first beach resort area in Latvia. I obviously didn’t see it on its best days: in october, by night and under the rain.
The summer is where it’s at, there’s a ton of tourists. The beach bar by the wall « I Love Liepaja » is where all the parties happen.
When exiting the beach, you find the musical tree that plays classic pieces from the famous Latvian group Livi; they were from Liepaja.
Liela iela 13
+371 63 425 411
It’s a restaurant downtown. My guide offered to go there because the Tourism Office works a lot with this restaurant. It’s a cozy decor in a mall. The menu is a bit big, but by navigating it using the « Traditional Food » logos, you can find some interesting dishes, like this soup served in bread, or this dessert. Not sure I’d make it a 716 spot, but it’s good nonetheless! Practical, and very friendly service.
+371 63 488 523
When I wrote about Riga’s Fontaine, I had no idea the concept was born in Liepaja, and yet it was:). Everything started from there. The best burgers in town: don’t expect the epitome of gastronomy but it’s good and cheap. Careful: it’s full on weekends, particularly people that drink, grabbing a bite to eat, before going back to drinking.
Les restaurants qui m’ont été recommandés par des locaux mais que je n’ai pas pu tester :
Klaipēdas iela 104C
Liepāja, LV-3416, Lettonie
+371 63 488 225
Ca a l’air d’être un bon plan mais c’est un peu à l’écart du centre, au terminus du tram’. Connu notamment pour ses sushis
Kuršu iela 2
Liepāja, LV-3400, Lettonie
Tél :+371 27 134 686
C’est le lieu à la mode, mon guide local trouvait ça trop international hipster, moi j’y ai très bien petit-déjeuné pour 7 euros et ça m’a suffi, mais c’est vrai que c’est pas donné pour le niveau de vie letton.
Lielā iela 8
+371 26 811 313
Prisé par beaucoup car cosy, non fumeur, plus classe que d’autres bars. Ca fait aussi café, avec snacks, quelques plats, bonne sélection de bières. J’y ai bu une bière Bracis en pression, très bonne.
Il y a plusieurs boutiques de vêtements d’occasion à Liepaja.
Zivju iela 9
On ira faire un tour à Humana, compagnie qu’on retrouve dans de nombreux pays. Leur concept est intéressant : ils rentrent régulièrement de nouvelles « collections » qui sont à 4 euros la 1ère semaine, 3 euros la 2ème, 2 euros la 3ème et 75 cents la dernière. On peut donc facilement trouver un blouson à 75 cents !
Graudu iela 31/33
+371 67 287 172
Il y a aussi Otra Elpa (« second souffle en letton »). J’ai d’ailleurs rencontré une sicilienne qui était venue à Liepaja travailler à Otra Elpa dans le cadre d’un programme européen sur le recyclage.
– Le Marché Peters
Kuršu iela 5/7/9
Ouvert du lundi au samedi de 8h à 18h et de 8h à 14h le dimanche
Il fut ouvert en 1910. L’architecte eut une tâche difficile car il devait le construire entre trois lieux de culte : l’église Saint Ann à l’est, la cathédrale Saint Joseph à l’ouest et la synagogue qui se trouvait à l’époque au sud.
C’est à la fois un marché alimentaire et un marché aux vêtements.
On m’a expliqué que les producteurs dits locaux ne le sont pas tous et que certains vendent des fruits et légumes polonais car la Pologne, ayant 5 fois plus de subventions européennes agricoles, peut produire à plus bas prix.
C’est d’ailleurs quelque chose qui est revenu plusieurs fois dans les Pays Baltes: il semble qu’ils n’aient que très peu d’aides financières agricoles alors que l’agriculture reste importante ici. Je me demande bien pourquoi.