Published: June 8th 2009May 8th 2009
Day 6-7 (May 8-9)
The following day was another bus journey to our next destination, Klaipeda on the Curonian spit in Lithuania, but not such an early start. We travelled through more amazingly green countryside.
We arrived to find that we had a converted guest house which had two adjoining rooms sharing a small lounge area. More importantly it had a kettle so we were able to make our own coffee. Kettle’s in rooms is not the norm in Europe, apparently, so this was a real treat. (it’s funny how small things please when you don’t have them). Dinner was local sausage, potatoes and sauerkraut - a favourite for me.
Klaipeda was a jumping off point for visiting the Curonian spit, which is a 15 minute ferry ride from town. We set out the following day and met our local guide who showed us through the various attractions of the spit. We heard some great traditional fairy stories as we walked through a local park that had wooden sculptures that had been erected for International Children’s day 20 years ago.
One fairytale was a creation story for how the spit itself had come about, involving a childless
couple finding a small baby (like Thumbelina) who quickly grew to giant proportions (unlike Thumbelina) and who protected her adopted village by making the spit and providing a safe habour.
We also heard some of the history of Lithuania, which like the other Baltic countries has spent much of it’s time being ruled by other countries, Russia, Germany, Poland in particular.
We also visited a Cormorant protection area, which was created to bring back the cormorants that had all but disappeared. It has been almost too successful and fishermen complain that the birds are doing them out of business.
The spit is only 2 kilometres wide, and has pine and birch forest on it. This has largely been planted over the years by people rather than growing naturally, but this helps to prevent the dunes from shifting. There are also man made dunes 30 metres high that protect the island from the west/Baltic sea side of the spit.
Half the spit is Lithuanian and the other half belongs to Russian Federation (Kaliningrad) we only travelled in the Lithuanian side. We travelled to points where we could see both sides of the spit, the bay and sea.
We also visited the house built by German nobel prize writer Thomas Mann.
We had some free time to have late lunch and wander around one of the small towns on the spit (population on the whole spit is just over 2000). Lunch included a local specialty of cold beetroot soup made from fresh beetroot and served with hot potato which you alternate mouthfuls of. (Have I mentioned that I love all the beetroot dishes I’ve had during the last month - another thing I want to have more of when I return home).
The Curonian spit is yet another beautiful place we could have spent a lot more time in.
There are more photos below