Latvia: the foundation of the Red Army as a tourist attraction

Twitching in the back of a truck 30 years old on an old training ground of the Red Army in Latvia and inhaling an intoxicating blend of gasoline fumes and dust, is what provides a Latvian enterprising tourists eager for adventure. Karklevalks According to Edgars, 50, many people want to spend their holidays in this way.

Everywhere in Latvia, the former Red Army base, installed when the country was part of the Soviet Union are now turned into tourist attractions. « In some visitors remember their past experience, but there are also young people who know very little about what happened in Soviet times, « said he with a loud voice, trying to drown out the noise of an engine rugissant.Il wears an authentic uniform of the Red Army which ideally suits his military truck GAZ-66, impeccably entretenu.Après independence of Latvia in 1991, the former driver of the army has managed hotels, trying to combine his job with a growing interest for old military trucks.

Today, it offers truck trips through the old training ground tanks, and ensures that after a hard day driving a cold beer and a barbecue they taste much better than usual. The Office Latvian Tourism has included his career in a new project, supported by the European Union and for better use of former military lands. « Tourism military is something positive, » said Asenath Ziemele, an official of the Office. It rejects, as Karklevalks, critics on the farm land of the Red Army, which occupied Latvia for half a century.

A card that lists 60 former military sites was established by the Board wants to put it online to promote this tourism organizations. « We believe that these sites have real potential, but local people do not always see. Make them more attractive for tourists not ask a lot of investment. In some cases, simply to cut the grass or erect an information board, « says Ziemele. » Teleported into the past «  » Visitors want to be teleported into the past at the time the curtain iron. People are intrigued, even fascinated by everyday life in Soviet times. They want to understand how the company was locked, « says the British Austin Nicholas, whose company Out There Travel organizes tours of military sites as a nuclear command bunker or prison militaire.Paradoxalement, the old Soviet military zones Today another attraction to offer: for decades closed to non-military, they have become nature reserves, included in the European initiative of a « Baltic Green Belt ».

Some sites, such as launching missiles that were once the glory of the USSR, are in very poor état. Ventspils on the Baltic coast is now a series of disused bunkers, broken ground for those seeking cables and pipes they sell to ferrailleurs.Mais enrollment in Russian are still on the walls and the base is worth a visit, according to historian Yuri Melkonov. « This is a unique site, » he said, explaining the methods of its construction and its strategic location on the western border of the former soviet empire . One other underground military base, located about thirty kilometers from Ventspils, is in a better state, only through the efforts of an enthusiastic local Andris Keizars.En 1944, the bunkers had been the scene of fighting a group of Latvian resistance, fighting both the Russians and the Germans to restore their Etat.Après you restore a bunker and created a tourist trail, Andris Keizars opened a small museum. « I think people are rediscovering their past, ».

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