Back in time - Ventspils
30.01.2017 - 31.01.2017 -1 °C
I will give it to you up front.
Even with all the efforts of an excellent tourism board, Ventspils is struggling to attract international tourism fame. Early on, Scandinavia was a target but I guess the Swedes are too busy in summer to boat around their own islands. Although Ventspils has truly a nice clean beach - by European "blue flag" quality standard. Seems the Lithuanians have found it in summer as they do have a short shore and not as clean....
So Ventspils (have you checked where it is on the map by now? - I certainly had to at the time I was considering to accept the job) is my visit to the earliest days of my container terminal CEO past. With all the changes of last year - basically stop work as well as settling back in Belgium - went quite fast and not really planned. Bit of boredom sitting at home pushed me to get out and do something. Seemed a good idea to connect with my past and see if it helps to place everything somehow.
In a nutshell, Ventspils is a small provincial city. But big in terms of its port. During the Russian days, railroads and large fertilizer/coal/oil terminals were built in Ventspils as it is indeed the most Eastern ice free port AND has deep water for the large vessels. Anything more east needs expensive ice breakers (such as St Petersburg). It was the largest export port for the Sovjets.
There is a one time mayor from the start and with his team he has been trying to diversify after independence because the future with Russia and its exports were not always clear. Hence the idea to also build a container terminal. Ready in 2000, and in partnership with a Belgian stevedore (Noordnatie) - the latter was asked to manage and find someone to go on location. Yours truly.
PS - cannot find any picture 2000, this is 2005 - put some more hair on and few kilos less... there is no copyright so you may copy this for your personal files ......
Unfortunately the market(ing) assumptions were not accurate and the terminal actually never took off as it should have been.
But that is boring stuff for port people only.
So accommodation was a challenge at first and looked like a student room. But they soon renovated a nice old building with all the modern trimmings.
Really was happy in that second place.
Language and good restaurants was an issue in 2000. Today this has changed, specially use of English.
Unfortunately today the center of town is suffering from some abandoned houses, the new Latvians want to live in modern houses outside town..... hope this gets resolved somehow.
I have been sitting here and trying to put a story and try and convey what it has been to me. Simply cannot. The few pictures of the few sites are not linking up to anything what my experiences and emotions have been in those days. So I just throw in a few picture, like that.
Simply would like to leave it at. It was not easy to make the change as a first terminal in the first uncommon location. But I learned a lot and met some fantastic people. It helped me for everything else that followed and for that reason Ventspils and people will always be special! (even the not so good experiences......)