5 long nights in Lithuania

Trip Start Jun 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Well, here I am in Lithuania. Things commenced with some time in Klaipeda at the beach... ahhh what a relief! Located only afew Km from the Russian boarder Klaipeda is a relatively remote spot with only one (very fun) backpackers that sleeps 12 people. On my way to Klaipeda I met an English chic (Holly) who'd been in Mongolia filming short films for afew months and was slowely making her way back to the UK. Being a beautiful day we had already decided that upon our arrival at Klaipeda we would settle in for a beer at the local live Jazz bar. What a night that turned into! Good grief, the entire 12 of us ended up at the Jazz bar, including Kristina (owner) and her sister. We successfully danced and drank into the early hours of the following morning.

Anyway, feeling rather jaded I spent the following day at the beach (on the Curonian spit), managed a little swim in the Baltic sea (which was fekking cold) and fell asleep in the sun... dire consequences surrounded that little phopah! The beach really was lovely - white sand, clear water and wind swept trees covering the spit of which there were numerous paths to wander. It still couldn't beat a Pohutakawa lined Northland beach at home, but it was a pretty good effort. I also managed a sleepy trip down to Nida (about .5 hour bus trip down the spit) to the Russian boarder - more sand dunes, more beach and really quiet pleasant but probably would have been better if I'd been feeling abit sharper.

Klaipeda was promptly followed through with Vilnius, Lithuania's capital and home to the turbulence in the early 90's. Being the only city in the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) that Ryan Air of Easy Jet don't fly into the city is slightly less touristic and perhaps alittle less 'perfect' in comparison with its two Baltic sisters. It's got a fairly large Old Town and is very nice. My 2 days in Vilnius were spent wisely with lots of historical visits, brushing up on education that I missed out on in school. Those visits with the biggest impacts included a trip to the KGB Prison museum; this is basically the KGB Prison as it was left by the Soviets 1991 when their occupation ceased, and a trip to the TV tour where Soviet troops killed 12 people in 1991 in the Lithuanian struggle for independance. The trip to the TV tower was interesting, the area very worn and tired - only 10 minutes drive but a million miles from the gliz of the cafe scene in the Old Town district.

I also managed to fit in another day trip down to the Lithuanian/Belarus boarder to Grutas Park. Grutas Park in is home to 75 Soviet Statues that onces stared over Lithuania in Big Brother style at the oppressed people of Lithuania. A dude had pruchased them all after the Soviet occupation ended and amongst controversy put them all into a park for viewing. It was an interesting visit, history was really well detailed during the period of the occupation (1944-1991) and was well separated from the German influence of the war. All pretty horrific stuff, in total lossing 1/3 of their entire population. Not unlike my visit to Salaspils in Latvia, to reach the park I was dropped in the middle of nowhere and had to find my way, about 3Km, through little villages set on a lake side before finding the park. It was nice to be out of town. Cities are all very lovely, but can be abit same same in this part of the world - it's good to break it up with afew excursions.

My accommodation in Vilnius has been somewhat amazing - a new backpackers that only opened last week. I've been enjoying a new bed, bedding, bathroom... new everything! Afew of us that were in Klaipeda have ended up here, unfortunately we have also ended up with this snoring old guy, he was a shocker in Klaipeda and it would seem that nothing has changed between Klaipeda and Vilnius. Robyn, Nick and I lay awake at nights while he gets a perfect sleep, it's tempting to get up and roll him over... or maybe smother him! Not very nice I know, but in an otherwise perfect hostel it's really annoying. I'm the deepest sleeper in the world so it's unusual for me to be awoken, my tolerance currently sitting on approximately nil! Luckily he didn't make it home until 7am thismorning, so we have actually managed to get one good night sleep in his company.

Tonight I'm off to Warsaw on the night BUS. I really can't believe that I am taking a night BUS, I totally loath the things. I boldly declared after travelling through Vietnam afew years ago that I would never take another night Bus, but behold here I am taking a damn overnight bus to Warsaw. It's my only option though - no trains running at the moment, so bus it is. Graunch groan, I'm so not looking forward to it, but such is life, things could be worse!
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