By bike along the Green!

By bike along the Green!

On the steamy days of July 22 and 23, the Europe Direct center, the Gulbene County Library organized a bike ride "On a bike along the green!" for the third year. This time it was dedicated to getting to know North Latgale. The route started in Latvia's smallest parish, Kuprava, visiting the industrial heritage - the abandoned drain pipe factory, and continuing along the Green Railway - towards Žigur. The green railway section Riga - Viļak is adapted for bicycle tourism and is one of the sections of the "Green railways" project financed by the European Union. Local residents also use it on a daily basis - when they go to the forest to pick berries and mushrooms.

We visited the village of Forest Goods in Žigur. First, we were welcomed by forester and colorful storyteller Anna Āze. In the private Forest Museum in Žigur, you can familiarize yourself with forest rangers' tools, stuffed animals, skins and horns, which have been collected and displayed by the owner of the museum for more than 20 years. In addition to the countless literature and historical evidence that Mrs. Anna has collected, she has also written several books about the forest, forest matters and hunting. Anna also has tips on how to deal with various ailments using the power of nature. We didn't try the snake infusion, but we did learn to make a plate from maple leaves and a sauna hat from ferns. In the village of forest products, we also had the opportunity to taste various delicacies - forest herb teas, pine bud puree, honey and salad from forest plants. It turns out that the young shoots of the firefly also taste great.

We got to know Viļak as a real pearl of the border with a lake island walking path and a pontoon boardwalk, a beautiful park, a clean beach, wooden architectural heritage, a museum in the former monastery building, where we looked at a collection of Latvian birds' eggs, as well as the works of the recently held international plein air painting.

We went to Egliava for the night, where the owner Aldis Pušpurs welcomes guests and has set up a museum in the forest, in a former forester's building. The museum was also awarded the "Latvian Heritage" cultural mark. In the collection, you can see the full cycle of the forest, from tree seeds to finished products made of wood, forest restoration, care, development work tools. Alda family and local handicrafts, photographs, furniture and various household tools have been collected and preserved with love and respect. Campfire soup cooked by the owner's hands and home-baked bread tasted wonderful, and we could use our fern hats in the country sauna. It was hard to say goodbye to the warm atmosphere of this place, but the next road is ahead - to the farm "Kotiņi". At the farm, we saw the latest grain processing equipment and modern agricultural machinery combined with a well-kept landscape. It's so nice to see sown, tidy fields and farms on the border, which are developing, working also according to organic methods and thinking about how to deliver their products to their consumers as healthy and diverse as possible. Having been deliciously fed by Vijas, the owner of the Rekova mill, and having enjoyed the culinary heritage of Latgale, we went on to explore the riches of nature.

The Stiglova nature trail turned out to be a real pearl of Latgale. The sandstone outcrops of the banks of the Stiglava River were formed approximately 375 million years ago. The obliquely layered white and brown-pink Devonian sandstones on the banks of the Stiglava river were formed under the influence of sea currents, at that time the sea was raging in the vicinity of today's Viļaka.

After walking the path, the roads of Latgale took us to the master of leather processing in Briežuciem. On his farm, Andris Ločmelis has created the brand "Leatherely" and manufactures high-quality leather products. In the workshop, we got acquainted with the master's work, looked at the collection of Andras sewing machines and also took the opportunity to make our own leather bracelet. It is a pleasure that even in the countryside, young people are passionately creating unique things and are not allowing the less populated corners of Latvia to fade into oblivion.

We traveled 94 kilometers together with bicycles, gained new impressions and ideas on how to live more environmentally friendly, enjoying together the hospitality, sincerity and enterprise of the Latgali people. Many thanks to the drivers Jānis Gērmanis and Zintis Upītis for the careful delivery of the bicycles! Thanks to the traveling companions from Gulbene, Balvi, Madona, Valmiera and Malaysia for endurance and excitement, positivity and team feeling!

Indra Logina, Gulbene county library