what do you do in winter when it's so cold and dark? Life just goes on?
At first, welcome to our forum, and for sure you're welcome to Latvia!
Disregarding what your grandfather did, we couldn't live in the past. We have now 21st century on board and whatever we all should do, is not to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors.
Regarding winters - snow is actually the funniest thing here, specially for kids, but actually for everyone. Most time Latvian weather looks like something grey and truly alcohol-addicted, but winter makes it all pure white. Unfortunately, in the past years there's not a lot of snow in Latvia. But sometimes, there could be a really cold severe "Russian" winter. I've attached couple of pics to this post to show
is there locations to try snowboarding and skiing type activities
Yes, there are, and I believe, they are a lot. The most popular place is Ski Track in Sigulda city
. All major Latvian competitions take place directly on this slope, also Latvian snowboard team for Olympics take coaching there.
Another cross-country ski tracks are located in Zilie Kalni park
, they are about 10 km long.
Both places are less than 1 hour of driving distance from Riga.
in summer do people surf and kitesurf?
Probably, sometimes, but it's not so popular like in Australian ocean
The Baltic sea is calm, sea waves are low. It's not quite suitable for surfing. Diving is more popular, searching for diving latvia
will bring you more results and places. As I know, this is specially popular in Eastern Latvian lakes. Lakes are more calm than the Baltic sea, and the nature side there is more rich.
Overall, summer and sun are also capricious in Latvia. For example, this year the temperature doesn't go higher than +21...22°C, there often rains and nights are cold. Most likely you could catch the "good" sun in July and the first 1/2 of August, but also not always.
So if you spend your days in Latvia, be prepared for nothing special
however for someone avoiding bustling it could be ideal... there's no active life, there's no big buzz as well.