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 busy with people doing their Saturday morning shopping the town looked quite different from yesterday when the weather was gloomy.
Despite the remoteness and distinctly rural feel in Poland of Augustow the town boasted a small 7D movie theatre seating about 20 to 30 people.What is 7D you ask.Well apparently it is a 3D movie with 4 other effects that give you
a physical experience while watching the 3D movie such as rushing water etc.If you are interested read up more about it and wait for it to come to a cinema near you........or move to Augustow,Poland to feel the experience.
After the communist era came to an end and Poland gained its independence along with Lithuania the Russians retained an area called Kaliningrad and between it and Belarus(previously also part of the Soviet Union) there is a narrow corridor into Lithuania on which there are only 2 main and 2 minor border crossings.Not that that really matters are of course there are no formalities when you leave Poland for Lithuania.
Tour director Gretchen had plotted a track on the R16 to the border which then became the R135 and then the R132 which took us through some very picturesque rural countryside before we entered an area of small lakes and pine forests.
With the sky clouding over again and looking a bit threatening we decided to stop for lunch before it rained spoiling any chance of being outside of the car.
With no towns or villages of any size to hope to find a small park to
have lunch in we opted to stop on one of the many bus stops that we had been passing as we travelled north.
It seemed there was a bus stop at each place there was a house and/or a farm close to the main road.There was a pole marking the bus stop on either side of the road although never opposite each other presumably in case a bus arrived in each direction to pick up or drop off its passengers at the same time and therefore potentially block the road.Whether this would ever likely occur though is extremely remote due to the lack of traffic,at least in our experience today,and whether buses would be so 'unlucky'to arrive at exactly the same time on a rural bus run.!At some of the stops there were also small shelters which seemed a bit over the top for the few people that each stop would be servicing.
Each bus stop had a name and a timetable(there were about 7 or 8 services on one we looked more closely at).The name we assumed referred perhaps to the owner currently or in the past perhaps of the house/farmlet that the bus serviced.
we chose one to pull into and parked at the end of the pull off just in case a bus should happen along in the 15 minutes we would probably be stopped for lunch.
Murphys law does really exist in Lithuania at least as far as bus stops and the BBA V2 stopping for lunch on one is concerned because lo and behold...........
We had just buttered the bread and were slicing up the tomato and what should pull but a bus!With no one getting on there had to be someone getting off and he said hello(we assume)and passed comment probably about our lunch and unconvential place to stop as he walked passed and down the driveway to his rural home.
After the bus pulled out we checked the timetable and found the bus was an hour early.Or was it?We discovered later when we arrived in Vilnius and checked the time set on the TV in the apartment that there was a one hour time change between Poland and Lithuania that we hadn't realised and we had to put our clocks forward thereby 'losing'an hour of the day.Not that we would recognise much of a change because
the sun is setting so late now and the twilight is such that it doesn't get any where near dark until after 11pm and even then there is still a sort of light in the sky.
After lunch we moved onto the R220 and soon after we were in the outskirts of Vilinus with the apartment blocks all around us as we negotiated our way to the apartment we have for the next 3 nights.
We found the street the apartment was on and crawled along looking for the building number we needed and hoped that the ones we were passing weren't going to be the one we would be staying in as they looked very tired with plaster fallen off the outsides and marked with graffiti.They actually looked worse than the one we had stayed in during our stop in Moscow in 2009 when we didn't think there could be an apartment building that could worse than that one.
We rang the nephew of the young couple we were renting from via AirBNB and he was waiting for us just around the corner and directed us to the building we needed.We were relieved to find it
was a more modern block,perhaps 10 years old,and he showed us into the apartment on the second of 9 floors.
The apartment was very well laid out with modern fittings and we were pleased to find that the cable TV had several channels in English as well as the many in Lithuanian or Russian.
After settling in we took a walk to the Maxim supermarket a short distance away to get in supplies including a T-bone steak that we found in the meat department amongst a very small amount of beef amidst all the usual chicken and pork.
The suburb the apartment was in had some wide streets for the trolley buses which serviced the area from downtown about 5 or 6 kilometres away,and it was a challenge to get across them in the time the traffic signals gave the pedestrians.
The T-bone steak was a bit of a disappointment as the red meat turned greyish when Gretchen put it in the pan to cook and the taste just wasn't like we expected.But it was red when it started out and we felt better getting a much needed dose of iron.
We have got our
fingers crossed for fine weather tomorrow and a day exploring the old town of Vilinus.
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