Yet another old town

Trip Start May 25, 2012
Trip End Jun 06, 2012

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Yesterday, Thursday, May 31, was another big train day. We started out at 6:00 am this morning. Shower up, check out, run to catch the number 175 bus to the Warsaw central train station, find our train, buy some food at a snack shop, jump on the train. It took us around 12 total hours by the time we got to Vilnius.

The trains weren't too bad today. Only three of them. The first and longest leg of the trip, in another first-class cube for six, was from Warsaw to Sestokai in Lithuania. Except this time we had one ancient man who made not a peep, an older woman who slept, and a younger attractive girl that sat next to Max. I'm sure he liked that better than the smelly old man from the day before yesterday. The best thing is that everyone else got off the train about halfway to our destination.

The second leg was from Sestokai to Kaunus, Lithuania. It only lasted an hour and a half and that was more than enough. Slow and seriously bumpy. I couldn't even read without getting nauseous. Our last leg from Kaunus to Vilnius was on a nice, double-decker train on fairly smooth tracks that let the driver run the thing faster.

We had a snack in the morning and brought snacks for the trip, but we completely underestimated how much we should have brought. We should have brought three full meals because there was nothing on these trains. No beverages, no snacks, no food, and no connections long enough to get anything. Both connections were under a minute.

Connections are interesting and I must say that even though the trains and rails themselves suck, they don't mess around with arrival and departure. They say what the mean and mean what they say. Things are so tight that as a train slows down at the station, people pack up and congregate at the doors so they can get off in time to make their connection.

For example, at Kaunus, the moment our train's doors opened, Max and I jumped off and ran across the platform and jumped into the next train with the doors closing right behind us. By the time we found seats the train was moving.

The bathrooms on these trains are disgusting, as one of the pics I uploaded shows. At one stop someone ran in and mopped things up. I think she had a mop and a bucket of bleach and simple splashed bleach all over and mopped it up. It doesn't help. Also, everything that goes into the toilets goes directly onto the tracks. I don't think they do that in a lot of places any more, but remember that the next time you feel like playing on the tracks in Lithuania...

We got to Vilnius and checked into our hotel which was halfway between the station and Old Town Vilnius. Nice hotel for $70. Quirky and clean. Good enough.

My apologies to Vilnius, but you're just another former Soviet city with an Old Town. Nice historic area surrounded by hideous communist-era block buildings. Built for utility. And now crumbling. Like every other Old Town we’ve been in, there are cafes that line the streets with buskers here and there, usually playing the same song over and over. At one point I wanted to take a guy’s soprano saxophone and beat him to death with it and then walk down the street and use the sax to beat the accordion player to death. How many times can a person hear the same thing before he snaps? I didn’t count, but I was close.

Max and spent the evening again doing what we do best when it comes to old towns. Eat way too much and play chess. And then eat too much again. We didn’t have any ice-cream in Vilnius, though. I don’t think there’s any left after all they serve in Warsaw.

I’ve got the best internet connection I’ve had in a while – on a bus. We got up at 6 am and jumped on our Lux Express bus to Riga, a four-hour ride, followed by four hours in Riga for you guessed it – lunch in Old Town Riga – then another four hour bus ride to Tallin where we stay the night.

The bus is infinitely better than the trains so far. Comfortable, smooth, clean. Seemingly safe, but ask me again after you see the Lux Express rollover disaster on CNN that’s sure to come... 

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mom on

You look like a professor on his way to Hogwarts . How was the scenery on your long train ride? Time to get Rosetta Stone for polish language lessons!

sunburntcurt on

The scenery from Poland all the way to Tallinn could have been anywhere in the Midwest. Trees, grasses, cows. I don't think I have a need to go back to Poland so won't need to learn the language. It was challenging, but we made it through.

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