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Introducing Liepāja

Latvia's third-largest city has a gritty, urban vibe. A port city on the Baltic Coast, Liepāja, 205km west of Rīga and 111km south of Ventspils, is a city lost in transition, not sure which way it wants to go. Decaying and abandoned Soviet-era buildings sit next to slick Western-style bars, and the feel is at once edgy and eccentrically upbeat. Part of the Latvian Amber Road, Liepāja is home to 123m ropes of amber beads and an impressive amber sundial. The city also hosts Latvia's largest rock festival, Liepājas Dzintars (Amber of Liepāja), in August each year, although the town is cashing in on Latvia's burgeoning rock 'n' roll scene year-round. Its multistorey 'rock café' is unique in the country, and hosts live bands nightly. Smaller venues are drawing up-and-coming bands from as far away as Rīga, and the nightlife here is often raging. Though lacking in sightseeing attractions, Liepāja has a pleasant beachfront, unique boutique hotels, some funky galleries - and a glass concert hall. Bizarrely, the local city council markets Liepāja today as the place where wind is born! The city still has rough edges to polish, but it's progressing quickly. In 10 years it just might be considered ultrahip. You'll have to visit to decide.

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