Blogs from Lithuania, Europe

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Europe » Lithuania » Vilnius September 30th 2013

Three hours by train North of Minsk, and we are entering in a complete different world! We know the European Union has spent a lot of money making sure some of their new members could catch up faster in terms of development and infrastructure...well, it shows here, and it's pretty nice. Vilnius is our first stop, before going North later on to Riga and than Tallinn. The Lithuanian train was modern, comfortable, and packed! Our taxi driver spoke Russian, like around 30% of the population here. We were in Vilnius for 28 hours, time to discover a world I had heard a lot about...but in reality, I knew nothing about... We stay at the Novotel right in the middle of town. Cheap, comfortable, efficient....that did the job. The good news, is the Capitals of the Baltic ... read more
KGB former jail...
Up to the Castle...
Vilnius

Europe » Lithuania » Vilnius September 2nd 2013

Still heading north through Eastern Europe. Ashlee and I spent a week in Vilnuis, Lithuania. The cities in E. Europe seem to be of two major kinds, those influenced more by Soviet style city plans with huge wide open spaces, wide streets, and crazy big buildings, and those influenced more by European style with small quaint streets, small ornate city squares, and moderate sized buildings. Vilnuis was a bit of both. It had the Soviet style outside the old town area and European influences inside the old town area. It also has a completely modern area just over the bridge from the old town area. There is something for everyone here, but I probably would not want to come back and live in Vilnius. We also did a day trek to Trakai. In the pictures, Trakai ... read more
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Europe » Lithuania » Vilnius August 4th 2013

Needing a break from both churches and castles, we spent a couple of hours one afternoon walking along a boardwalk over the Kodru bog in the Korvemaa Landscape Protection Area in Latvia. We'd never have found the trail without the help of the young girl selling tickets for a museum there who walked half way across a mown field full of sharp stalks in flip flops to point out the beginning of the trail. When we emerged from the trees the landscape looked like something from a post-apocalyptic movie, with wizened-looking trees, quite different from field after field of grain or the herds of cattle we'd been driving past, and we had to watch out for tiny brown frogs and small lizards leaping from the boards as we put our feet down. Driving on to Viljandi ... read more
Salaspils
Salaspils
Old Mill hotel

Europe » Lithuania » Vilnius July 31st 2013

Our GPS has been of great help guiding us around Latvia, Estonia and now Lithuania but it needs to be used with discretion, as one morning it took us down a cart track which ended in a very rickety and narrow pedestrian suspension bridge. It also tends to send us in circles when trying to get us to a tourist information centre that can only be accessed on foot. And several of the centres we have tried to reach can only be accessed by foot or via complicated one-way systems which, when you want help finding somewhere to stay for the night and only have ten minutes to reach the information centre before it closes, can be frustrating. We've also noticed, when asking for a room for the night that as soon as we ask whether ... read more
GPS dilemma
Ventra falla
Sundial

Europe » Lithuania » Vilnius July 22nd 2013

Another 4.5 hour bus ride on Simple Express and we are in Vilnius, capital city of Lithuania - cost is all of $24 each !!! No change in scenery or farming practices that I could see. Weather still quite cool (under 20) and the odd rain shower too. We arrived at lunch time, so after finding our hotel we wandered into the Old Town and found a cafe for lunch, while it rained. Didn't find NZ fruit anywhere but they have our Sav Blanc. Continued walking, past many churches - Catholic and Orthodox - it must cost a fortune to maintain these old buildings. The main Catholic Basilica dates from 1251AD, although fire destroyed the first one, and it has been rebuilt over the years. The Soviets used it as an art gallery and they also ... read more

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Europe » Lithuania » Marijampole July 10th 2013

We should have known by now that Vicky(our GPS)loves roads that takes us to the centre of cities and to the backblocks,if she gets the opportunity.Today it was the turn of the backblocks in a major way!The town where we are staying is in a rural village but we did think there were some reasonable secondary roads to get there and so plugged in the shortest route to the GPS.Needless to say we have learnt our lesson once and for all,more later. The weather has remained fine although as we get closer to Poland we are not sure this will continue given Poland's weather patternsBut we shall make the best of what is ahead today. Its back into Lithuania today and a stop at an attraction in a field about 10km before the city of Siauliai(get ... read more
Our hotel across the road from the old wooden house
Approaching the Hill of Crosses,Lithuania
The Hill

Europe » Lithuania » Vilnius June 30th 2013

Another city,another old town to look over and take it in the history and architecture and the weather has come right for some serious walking. The suburb the apartment is located in has some wide open spaces between the apartment blocks and the land in the area is not dead flat giving an aesthetically pleasing view. Yesterday when we walked to the supermarket we noticed two signs pointing to Centras(middle of the city)one saying 3km and the other saying 6km.Which one was right or perhaps there were two different routes to take?We weren't sure but if it was only 3km it would be worth walking rather than taking the car and having to find a park.However if it was 6km then that would add another 6km return to the journey and make it a long and ... read more
Funicular,Vilnius
New city skyline and River Neris,Vilnius
Hill of three crosses,Vilnius

Europe » Lithuania » Vilnius June 29th 2013

Our gang of close friends at home(The Flamingos)are having their mid winter Christmas Party tonight and we won't be there.But......by the wonders of technology,namely Skype,we can at least get a look at who has brought what to eat and salivate if there is lamb on the menu and of course also get to catch up with those there.The party is at Ruth and Owens and we jacked up the connection day and time about a month ago so we had to make sure our internet connection in Augustow was going to work.And it did a treat! The weather had picked up since yesterday and the sky was clearing as we packed up for the short drive to cross into another country on the BBA V2,Lithuania. What a difference the sun coming out makes and with Augustow ... read more
Polish lake near Augustow
Fishing for lunch perhaps?
Straight road through the forest near Polish/Lithuania border

Europe » Lithuania » Vilnius June 14th 2013

As soon as we crossed the border (which does not involve stopping) it started to rain. The rain became progressively heavier as we approached the city. CS had booked to alight the bus at a place called 'Panorama'; a big shopping complex on the north side of the river Neris which had seemed the closest spot to our destination hotel. There was no shelter there so the bus driver suggested we stay on board until we reached the Bus Station. Ultimately both stops were about the same distance from our hotel but the driver kindly procured a taxi for us virtually as soon as the bus arrived at its terminus, and we were undercover, which was welcome because by then it was teeming. A smiley driver who spoke virtually no English managed to communicate that he ... read more
Gedimino St.
CS dwarfed by the Cathedral Basilica columns
Clock tower of the Cathedral

Europe » Lithuania » Kaunas » Kaunas June 2nd 2013

This blog entry is coming to you from Kaunas, Lithuania, but it isn't supposed to. It is supposed to be coming from Minsk, Belarus, a place that I have this strange obsession about visiting. My original plan was to take an overnight train from St Petersburg to Minsk before flying out of Vilnius, Lithuania, which is only a two hour bus ride from Minsk and from where there are cheap flights back to London. Four days before I left the UK for Russia however, the Belarusian embassy in London put paid to Plan A - I had applied for the cheaper "transit" visa for my visit to Belarus which would have allowed me in the country for 48 hours, but my application was refused on the basis that there is no physical need to go through ... read more
Kryžių Kalnas
Cool Cross
Lithuanian Countryside




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