Baltic Blitz

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July 11th 2010
Published: July 12th 2010
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Unfortunately I didn’t have much time to travel around the Baltic states as the entry date on my Russian visa was fast approaching. The area’s quite compact though and it’s extremely easy to get around.

Buying the train ticket from Minsk to Vilnius was a bit of an ordeal but the surprisingly friendly staff and a Russian phrasebook got me through. It’s only about 4 hours from the heart of Europe’s last communist dictatorship to the edge of the EU. The border crossing was relatively easy and unlike the last one did not involve me standing shirtless in the middle of a packed train carriage.

Vilnius is a small city but the old town area is the largest Baroque old town in Europe. It’s literally impossible to walk for 5 minutes without passing a church. You can see the whole city from a viewpoint beside the river called Gediminas Hill. The only downside to my visit was the weather. I'm actually missing the 40 degree heat of the Egyptian desert! It wasn't really raining just cloudy and overcast all day. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt but there was a constant feeling it was about to pour down raining. It felt like being on holidays in the summer in Ireland. The city's not quite as bleak as my photos make out!

Next stop involved far less churches and far more Jagermeister. I was fairly tired when I arrived at the hostel in Riga but they were serving a free dinner in the hostel’s bar so I headed down to check it out. One thing lead to another and suddenly it’s 1pm the next day I’m in the middle of old town Riga, so unbelievable hungover I have to get sick into the river while a small child watches in tears. Starting this trip in the Middle East was like an alcohol detox so I’ve now lost all any tolerance I once had.

After that experience I’ve seen about as much of Riga as I have of Munich. I can’t really give an objective opinion of Riga (I only walked around the city sober for about an hour). The nightlife is great though. I will be back.

Half recovered from the previous night I got on the bus to Tallinn. I'm not sure if it was just because the sun was shining or because I wasn't publicly vomiting but I absolutely loved the city. The suburbs are dominated by grey soviet blocks but in the center glass and steal skyscrapers stand right next to a fantastically preserved old town. Most of the old town area is still surrounded by the old city walls. Just outside the centre there’s even a long stretch of beach.

All in all quite an enjobaly blitz through the Baltics, except Riga. When will I learn...

Additional photos below
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Contrasts VilniusContrasts Vilnius
Contrasts Vilnius

Soviet Realism, Baroque Church & Glass towers

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