Day Trip to the Hill of Crosses.


Advertisement
Lithuania's flag
Europe » Lithuania » Siauliai
July 18th 2010
Published: July 18th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

Great day today, for the most part =)

I got up early to take a bus up to Siauliai, near the Hill of Crosses. It’s this little hill with over 200,000 crosses on it, all just brought by people as a sign of their national pride and/or their faith. It’s quite the story, especially considering all this was being down during the Soviet occupation when religion was a total no-no.

The bus ride was ok this time around… buying the ticket was an adventure as the guy spoke very limited English. We played charades, and I even got a student discount (uh 50%? yes please!) out of him. True skill. The A/C was broken, sigh, but I had my own seat, so at least I wasn’t stuck up against someone.

In Siauliai I had to take rural public transit to the Hill… ahahaha, how I didn’t get lost I honestly don’t know. I asked for “Hill of Crosses” and the lady wrote down what bus to take, mmk. It’s a start. Bus was supposed to leave at 12pm (it was 11:30am), so I went to the platform. A few min later it showed up, so I figured might as well get on now. Again, total game of charades to buy my ticket. I had a picture of the internet directions (haha) so I showed it to him, he nodded and I just hoped that he’d stop and let me off at the right place lol.

We left at 11:45am… good thing I got on the bus early? Silly bus schedules.

He nodded at me when it was my stop, even pointed towards the side road “go right”. I said thanks in Lithuanian (which is pronounced achoo. I love this language =) haha) and went on my way.

Now, you have to appreciate the situation I found myself in haha. I got dropped off by this bus in the boonies… full out the middle of no where on this highway haha. It’s a good thing I had google’d this trip and knew this was coming because otherwise I would’ve had a panic attack right there.

I looked down the long, oh so long, side road and started my epic trek. 2 km later (as well as half a water bottle, a sandwich, self photos to pass the time aaaand much sun later) I made it to the info building. Success!

Of course it was back in the mid-30’s again today… so I was virtually melting at this point. (The walk had no shade of course). I sat down on some rocks by the building and got to work on my cross. I couldn’t come all the way out here and not add my own..!!

It was kind of therapeutic to put it together… I made a bunch of those square-notes that we kids used to fold up (you know, back in the “good old days” before texting in class haha). On each note I wrote names of people we’ve lost over the past few years… whether they be in my family, family’s family, or friends’ family. Then, in each note I wrote something to whoever’s names were on the note.

6 pages later, I was done.

I re-folded all the papers, and then wrote a message across the front of the papers. (Names were in the back) I then had to, of course, connect all the notes haha. I had a pair of scissors and three bandaids with me. Yeah, I’m that creative haha. I don’t think the picture does it justice haha.

Anyway, I then ventured back into the heat to go to the Hill.

Wow,

I don’t really know if there’s much more to say… it’s really one of those sights that leaves your speechless. The hill is quite small, but it is literally covered with crosses of all sizes, colours, materials, everything… and even though there’s no order to it, that’s part of the beauty. It’s incredible to think that all these people have come to bring their cross to show their beliefs, their pride, their faith.

I roamed around the hill for a solid 40min, taking photos and just marveling at the sight of it all. It was very quiet for the amount of people in the area… which was wonderful because every time there was a slight breeze the rosaries would clink against the metal and/or wooden crosses they were on and the sound was both beautiful and slightly eerie.

While walking around I found a little glass hut that had a bunch of crosses in it. I smiled to myself, the perfect place for my paper cross to go =)

The walk back to the highway was a long one… I couldn’t help but think about life and death, and just think about everyone... I still miss them. A lot.

As I got to the highway, I was just close enough to watch my bus drive off. Sigh. x100.

I walked over to the bench and lay down on my back, staring up into the clouds and continued my thoughts. I must’ve looked funny to the people driving by haha - in the middle of nowhere, lying down across the bench, not even watching for the bus.

(There was no point anyway, it only comes every hour.)

After about 20min of pondering, I sat up and looked around. There were huge, dark, rumbling clouds not that far off in the distance… grrrrrreat. As much as I’d love a little spring shower, I didn’t particularly feel like getting caught in a thunderstorm in the middle of a field. To pass the time, I decided to get out my iPod out and just sang for fun haha. There was no one around, so who cares? That was fun.

After about 10min of this, I saw a guy walking down the street (from the Hill) towards the stop. Bah, there goes my singing time haha. He sat down beside me and we got to talking - his name’s George, and he’s from Spain. He spoke very limited English, so that was fun haha - we threw a few French words in there, and mimed some stuff - it was good, we understood enough. He was quite the character, lots of fun.

After about 15-20min of chatting it started to rain. And I don’t mean “oh, one drop” - I mean full out POUR. We kind of looked at each other like ‘well, what do you want to do’? We did the only logical thing really, I turned my iPod on full blast and we kind of danced around in the rain haha. That only lasted about 2-3min though, because then, THANKFULLY the bus showed up. I have never been happier to see a bus in my lifetime.

Of course, trying to sit on the bus wasn’t all that pleasant considering I was sopping wet. George had an extra shirt in his bag which he offered to me (lol) but I politely declined. We got to talking again, and turns out he’s going to Vilnius tonight too, so we became travel buddies the rest of the night. We bummed around the mall in Siauliai for a bit (bus didn’t come for another hour) and grabbed some supper.

We made it back to Vilnius in one piece which was good. He wanted to go “party party” haha, but again I declined - I was still damp from this afternoon, and I could feel the sunburn on my neck, so I just wanted to get back to the hostel. Plus, the rain clouds were hovering overhead.

Sigh. Not even 5min into my 20min walk back to the hostel it started to POUR. Like, torrential downpour, pour. Like streets are giant lakes because so much rain fell in such a short period, pour.

Oh, and it was also thunder and lightening like mad haha.

I got back to the hostel as wet as I have ever been in my life haha. What a day..!!

Advertisement



19th July 2010

When we were there in 2004, there were no people around (except for gypsies selling trinkets in the parking lot) so it was a little eeire wandering around the crosses. I'm not sure but I think the Russian tanks cleared it a number of times but the LIthuanians kept coming back and erecting more crosses. A similar site is at St. John cemetary in Mississauga. They have a small hill with crosses erected on it. A very strange site to see when you drive in but memorable.
19th July 2010

Yeah, I know the hill was cleared a few times - it's quite amazing that they managed to keep "re-building" it each time. I'm glad I went - it was super out of the way, but well worth the time. I can't imagine what it would've been like alone - even with all the people there it was still eerily quiet - that must've been quite something.

Tot: 0.239s; Tpl: 0.011s; cc: 11; qc: 55; dbt: 0.0699s; 55; m:apollo w:www (50.28.60.10); sld: 3; ; mem: 6.5mb