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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Barenis

To the Seaside: Jurmala

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

September 6, 2018

Jurmala (pronounced YER-mah-lah) is situated on the coast of the Gulf of Riga and has long been celebrated for its beaches and spas. I wanted to make time for this excursion because of an address I found on an old letter sent to my great aunt. At some time she stayed in Bulduri, a neighborhood in Jurmala. Perhaps it was for a summer or perhaps the family had a summer home there. And in fact, I believe Jurmala may be the place where my grandparents first met.

I took the train from Riga, and in 45 minutes I was exiting the station to find myself in a quiet park amidst tall pine trees. I breathed in the fresh woodsy scent and took a moment to appreciate the peacefulness before making my way to the address on the envelope. A short walk later, I found a house which seemed to have been recently renovated, but still resembled a house I've seen in an old family photograph.

The tall pines greeted me as I exited the train station.

Latvians keep their parks clean too.

The house in Bulduri at the address on an envelope from the 1930's

Local flora

Next I turned my direction to the Gulf of Riga. The short walk to the beach was also quiet. As I approached, more pine trees greeted me and provided a barrier between the the town and the water. In the photographs below, you will see: a view of the town; a little red and orange building which is a pay-toilet steps from the beach (yes, a person sits at the window and takes money - about 35 cents - in exchange for use of the facilities); a structure on the beach which appears to be a trampoline with solid barriers but is actually a "dressing room" for beachgoers; and finally, a selfie in which I am trying my best to look relaxed and not exhausted (which was the case by this point!).

A panoramic view of the park adjacent to the beach

As the day drew to a close, the temperature began to drop enough for me to seek warmth. The black top road leading me back to town was still warm from the day, and I heard jazz music coming from the speakers at a nearby Greek restaurant, so I stopped for some vegetarian borscht and potato dumplings. It was just enough to sustain me so that I could experience the gorgeous sunset over the water.

Sunset over the Gulf of Riga


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