RIGA - Have you ever thought about the symbols that surround us, the meanings and the origins of the things that we take for granted? Did you notice that this is the 666th issue of The Baltic Times? Did you know that fear of this number is called Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia?
People were always very cautious with the things they couldn't explain or understand and protected themselves by making the things they were unafraid of mean something special. Hindi, for instance, made cows a symbol of wealth, strength, abundance, selfless giving and a full Earthly life. This is why cows generally depict something good in the modern world. There's even an international public art exhibition called the Cow Parade, held in many cities all over the world. In 2002 Ventspils was chosen as one of those cities, so if you ever wondered why Ventspils is filled with sculptures of cows and bulls of different sizes and colors, now you've got your answer.
Enough about cows though, let's talk about Ventspils. It is the sixth largest city in Latvia, located in the north-western part of the country on the coast of the Baltic Sea. This weekend it celebrates its 719th birthday. Ventspils City Festival is happening every summer and this year it is going to feature a 23 hour Flower Carpet Composition Marathon, First Latvian Speed Knitting Championship, Hairdresser competition and Muscle Men Fights. If you're not in the mood for supporting the contestants and wish to simply enjoy the beauty of the old town, you will not be disappointed, as there is much to see. There will also be a concert by Melo M and the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, and if it gets dark and you still have the strength for a party, you can dance in the Renka Garden, together with popular Latvian bands Labveligais tips and Dakota until the sun comes up again.
The weather is expected to be rather pleasant, sunny and warm so walking along the jetty is probably a good idea. It is one of the best places to feel the sea breeze in Latvia, and has one of the best views, too.
If you're there with your children, they would very much enjoy visiting the 'Fantasy' park for the smaller ones, and Parventa Forest Path with 12 different complexity amusements made of tows and ropes as well as a Water Amusement Park, for you and your older kids.
And if you feel that this still isn't enough and you'd fancy a walk, there is a Coastal Park, which is right outside of the water amusement park, filled with different sculptures, old fishing boats and houses, gigantic anchors and chains. But it isn't always necessary to walk, thanks to a rebuilt post-war narrow-gauge locomotive with railcars, previously used to provide links between the fishing villages of Kurzeme, which will now take you for a ride around the park; bear in mind, though, that it only runs on Saturdays and Sundays, until 5 p.m.
Ventspils is a nice place to spend your weekend. It is the magic that lies close by, which you never bothered to notice before. The Ventspils City Festival starts on Aug. 6 and lasts for four days, with events happening all around the city center.