A Baltic swing
Maximum capacity - 6 adults
Baltic Road Trip May 2016
Day 1 Saturday – 6 hours driving Minsk to Riga
Up early – 4:30 a.m. to depart for the Belarus-Lithuania border before it gets busy
2 hour drive to the border; only five cars ahead of us
1.5 hours to cross with much checking of the trunk;
a helpful Belarus border agent with minimal English;
Belarus immigration check; drive
Belarus customs check; drive
Lithuania immigration check; finally inside the European Union
Stop near Lithuania-Latvia border for coffee and special cake – sakotis
on into Riga, Latvia using our great phone navigation app (OsmAnd)
We entered Riga during a huge motorcycle rally
and maneuvered around closed roads
to our nice hotel in the old town – huge room.
Lunch on a square in the glorious sunshine.
walked to see some of the city’s famous art nouveau buildings
and museum at the Riga Art Nouveau Centre.
George got a big kink in his neck from looking up at the amazing architecture
Beer pub veranda for dinner wrapped in blankets against the evening chill.
Back to hotel to discover that
the beautiful 5th
is above a very noisy street – we found ear plugs 2 days later at checkout.
Day 2 Sunday
Central Market housed in old airship hangers,
reminded us of a tamer Minsk Komarovski Market
A walk around the Stalinist Academy of Sciences (Stalin’s birthday cake)
Shopping, lunch at Portuguese restaurant in the Miera iela neighborhood
with amazing wine and food
walk around the old town and along the Daugava River
happened upon a Baroque pipe organ and flute concert in Dome Cathedral
dinner of soup, salad, and dessert at a quaint restaurant
a short walk outside old town.
Day 3 Monday – 5 hours driving Riga to Tallinn
Stop en route to walk along the sandy shore of the Baltic sea
Lunch in the coastal town of Parnu
Check into quaint White Villa
then bus into Tallinn old town
The search was on for the post office to mail our tax return – success!
toured old town with the most intact city walls and towers
of any European medieval city
above the square at recommended Bathazar garlic restaurant – yumm!
Day 4 Tuesday
Sea Plane Harbor museum; KUMU art museum and lunch in their cafeteria
Shopping; evening in old town pub and then dinner; bus home.
Day 5 Wednesday – 2 hour driving Tallinn to Lahemaa Park
a few stops: forest cemetery; Tallinn TV Tower (with breakfast at the top);
Viru bog with boardwalk a meter above the bog leading to an overlook tower
Arrive in the tiny village of Altja
and our beautiful quaint countryside cottage for three days: Toomarahva Farm
A short walk from the boulder strewn sandy shore of the Gulf of Finland.
Dinner in Vosu at O Korts.
We notice that the Baltic region has many log cabins.
New ideas form in our minds that the log cabin is much older
than the popular American frontier home.
Ula fixed us a yummy breakfast
drive to Kosmu and funky private nautical museum
and a walk along the sea and through erratic boulder field
drive to Palmse Manor –
one of many German baronial estates
to tour the mansion and grounds built in the 18th
Wealth was obtained similar to the U.S. southern plantations with
natural resources and free labor (Lithuanian surfs in this case).
Greenhouses filled with tomato starts
Delicous lunch at Palmse Korts with engaging waiter
and yummy cream kamu dessert
drive by Sagadi Manor and home to rest
drive by Vihula Manor and then hike the old forest trail (5 km)
then the beaver trail (1km)
back home for wine on the porch enjoying the long northern evening
Did I mention the amazing sun and unusual warm weather
we were enjoying (nearly 20 degrees C)
The days in early May are quite long and the dusk lingers
and it hardly gets completely dark
– locals from this region call these “white nights”
yummy breakfast with Ula’s homemade strawberry jam
walk along the beach finding beach glass
geese flying in v-formation overhead
to the sea for the day
Sagadi Manor visit – larger but not as nice as Plamse
to Palmse Kort for lunch with our friendly waiter, Een.
He recommends beetroot and minced meat cutlets
and, of course, Plamse dark beer and hearty bread spread with butter
the butter covered with salted water (for flavor and to keep insects away)
This evening we are rewarded with the much anticipated rural sauna experience
The wood fired sauna is in an old cabin.
the stove is fed from the bathing room
The body of the metal stove is in the sauna room surrounded by stones
add spoonfuls of hot water to the stones to increase the heat intensity
wash first with tub of hot and cold water
sauna until you can’t stand it, step into bathing room,
douse yourself with cold water, stand on the porch in the cool evening air
drink water, repeat process until done and thoroughly relaxed
Day 8 Saturday – 5 hours driving from Lahemaa to Dikli Palis in Latvia
goodbye Ula and your yummy jams (today is plum pumpkin)
Our entire Baltic road trip had elevation gains of only a few hundred feet.
being smoothed by the
last ice age; it must be one of the flattest places on earth
Dikli Palis is another beautifully restored manor
and home to our beer gourmand's vacation
It starts with a peeling using barley grains scrub and then a hop oil massage
Step out of the massage to a pitcher of Valmiermuiža craft beer
Delightful! But the beer gourmand fun didn’t stop there.
We enjoyed a detailed tour of the Valmiermuiža brewery
and then a gourmand dinner paired with, yes, Valmiermuiža beers!
Day 9 – 5 hours driving from Dikli Palis to Kaunus, Lithuania
We strolled around the manor grounds -
imagining that this small piece of refined privilege
must have been maddeningly isolated and boring!
Guests were rare and very welcome.
Kaunas has a very lively old town with many restaurant choices
We checked into the efficient Apple Economy Hotel and explored,
finding a good meal and retiring early.
Day 10 Monday – 4 hours driving home from Kaunas
We found a yummy coffee café in old town,
packed up and headed for home
confused passing through Vilnius
stopped at the new mall near IKEA
Short line at the border and through within 45 minutes!
The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are small,
but there is still more we want to see and do there
We will return one day!
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