Journey to Jelgava
September 5, 2018
The city of Jelgava (pronounced YELL-gah-vah) lies 25 miles southwest of Riga, a short train or bus ride away, with a population of 63,000. It is the city where my grandparents lived and owned a music store, and the city which they had to flee. Jelgava was almost completely destroyed during the Soviet takeover in 1944 so the buildings my family owned were most likely destroyed. I still wanted to set foot there.
The main train station in Riga comes complete with stores and restaurants inside. At each track entrance there are two strips of metal sheeting which cover the stairs to provide for handicap and stroller access.
For this trip I was able to ride one of the newer trains with blue cloth seats and bright yellow accents.
The 45-minute train ride allowed me to witness the beauty of the countryside. I noticed the abundance of apple trees and birch trees. The leaves were just beginning to show some change in color for Fall.
Upon exiting the train station in Jelgava, the first thing I noticed was how quiet the town was. I immediately came upon the Monument to the Liberators of Jelgava. The statue was unveiled in 1932 to celebrate the freedom from German occupation thanks to Soviet forces. Ironically, years later the tables turned and it was the Soviets from whom the Latvians sought freedom.
During my mile-long, self-guided walking tour of Jelgava - I passed parks, churches, more apple trees, and the beautiful Jelgava Palace. I noticed the four-story buildings in the town and wondered if one of them resembled the building that once belonged to my family.
This tree in the middle of Jelgava must have seen some tumultuous times in its life!
I stopped to reflect on the day with coffee and cake at a small cafe overlooking the water. Ducks waded nearby and seemed to enjoy the gentle sound of the lapping water as much as I did.
Finally, I headed to the bus station, which lacked the grandeur I had just experienced at Jelgava Palace and the quaint little cafe, but it still served its function.
The bus ride back to Riga gave me a chance to snap some photos of the scenery along the highway. The flatness of the landscape reminded me a little of the Mississippi Delta, where I was raised.