Blogs from Lithuania, Europe

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Europe » Lithuania » Trakai August 27th 2019

Monday was hot & ideal for the activities planned. We started with a 2 hr train trip to Ignalina and then a private bus to the charming village of Ginuciai & a two night stop at a homestay. The village was an ideal base to explore the Aukstaitija National Park that comprises numerous pristine lakes and rivers, small villages and ancient pine forests. After a quick check-in we headed out in kayaks for a 2 hr (6 Km) paddle along a picturesque shallow river. The river meanders through fallen trees & flanked by charming log cottages & nesting bird habitat before running into a large lake. Across the lake we stopped to hike a hill to an ancient pagan site with a wishing tree before another short paddle to our pickup point. Regardless of whether your ... read more
Kayaking through the National Park
Nesting swan
Hill top view of lake

Europe » Lithuania » Vilnius August 25th 2019

Thursday started with a 4 hr train ride to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The temperature on mid afternoon arrival was a barmy 30 deg. After a quick check-in to the Corner Hotel for a 2 night stay we headed straight out for an orientation walk around the picturesque old town. Like the whole Baltic region, Vilnius has been occupied over the last 800 years variously by Sweden, Poland, France, Germany and Russia with each occupier leaving its mark on the city. The walk mainly centered around Cathedral Square in the Old Town and its beautiful Cathedral and free standing belfry. The Cathedral has had many versions over the centuries due to fire & foreign occupation. The classic current version was completed in the early 1800’s & this time has remarkably survived a conversion into a ... read more
Church of St. Casimir
Gediminas Castle Tower
Gate of Dawn.

Europe » Lithuania » Klaipeda August 23rd 2019

Thursday was a 5 hour bus journey crossing the Lithuanian border and a two night stay at the Litinterp Klaipeda Guesthouse. The journey was broken with a short stop at the Hill of Crosses at Siauliai, a pilgrim site in defiance of anti-religious Soviet rule. Upon arrival we wandered to the old town on the waterfront with it's old brick warehouse buildings converted into appartments or small businesses. While Klaipeda is historically the oldest town in Lithuania, devastating fires & modern war has meant the city no longer has any of the iconic buildings that we have encountered in all our stops up to now and instead is now mainly a gateway to the Curonian Spit. Friday was a perfect bike riding day & an excursion to the Curonian Spit, a long and narrow sand dune ... read more
Our group at the Russian border
Kieran in front of Curonian pennants
Baltic Sea beaches

Europe » Lithuania » Vilnius July 31st 2019

or Trans-Siberian Adventure – Prelude 1: Lithuania (and a bit of Poland and Latvia) This trip actually began in Poland but, seeing as that leg involved only a train from Puszczykowo to Warsaw immediately followed by an overnight bus to Vilnius, I shall spare you the few details and commence this series of blogs in Lithuania. As can be surmised from the subtitle, I have finally gotten around to taking the Trans-Siberian Railway from Europe to Asia. I’ve been wanting to do this for as long as I can remember. As a kid who was very much into geography facts, there was something alluring about the longest train ride in the world, across the world’s largest country, skirting the bottom of the world’s largest forest, past the world’s oldest, deepest, and most voluminous lake, to the ... read more
Varnikai Cognitive Walking Way
Vilnius Town Hall Square
Trakai Castle

Europe » Lithuania July 24th 2019

24 July 2019 We left the Curonian Spit today and returned to Klaipeda on the mainland to catch the overnight Baltic ferry to Keil in Germany. On the way we had a couple of interesting stops. Half way up the spit there is the resort of Juodkrante where we inspected the sand sculptures created by a symposium of Artists held this summer and had a lunch of smoked fish, a local produce. After catching the ferry from the spit to Klaipeda, the afternoon was enjoyable wandering through the cobbled streets and squares of the old town and strolling around a huge sculpture park in the lovely early evening sunshine.... read more
An example
Tucking into smoked seabass
A Klaipeda old town street

Europe » Lithuania July 23rd 2019

23 July 2019 A relaxing day which enabled us to recover from the previous evening’s festivities. We walked up the nearby Parnidis Dune and finally got round to having a swim in the Baltic.... read more
A giant sundial on the summit
Looking along the Curonian Spit into Russia with the lagoon on the left and the Baltic on the right
 The dunes overlook a very attractive bay

Europe » Lithuania July 22nd 2019

22 July 2019 There is a cycle path running the length of the Curonian Spit and we cycled the first 15k of it to the village of Pervalka where we had fish soup for lunch in a restaurant overlooking the lagoon. Although most of us are starting the journey home by ferry through the Baltic to Keel in Germany, today was the last day of the actual tour and we had a very enjoyable farewell dinner in the campsite restaurant which enabled us to reflect on the experiences the group had shared over the last four weeks.... read more
Lunchtime bird watching
Pervalka had a number of thatched buildings. Some in good order
And some not so good

Europe » Lithuania July 21st 2019

21 July 2019 Behind the Curonian Spit there is a huge lagoon and on the mainland a low lying delta where the River Nemunas breaks up into many smaller channels before reaching the sea. The Nemunas Delta is a national park and the the home to many species of land and sea birds. We had a magnificent day long boat trip across the lagoon and into the delta.... read more
Our boat for the day
The captain explaining or route
The port of Nida is backed by some of the sand dunes which run down the spit

Europe » Lithuania July 20th 2019

20 July 2019 From Rundale Palace we drove South into Lithuania and after 50k stopped to look at the Hill of Crosses. This a small hillock where Lithuanians from across the world have planted hundreds of thousands of large and small, elaborate or simple devotional and memorial crosses in a haphazard way. The Lithuanians kept it going during the Soviet era despite the authorities attempts to outlaw the practice. We found the place quite disturbing and commercialised , but when Pope John Paul II held a mass there in 1993 he suggested that a monastery be built as a place of prayer. This now stands 100m away. We then continued 200k back to the coast and the port of Klaipeda where we had a short ferry ride to the long and narrow Curonian Spit. We drove ... read more
The Hill of Crosses
The jumbled mass
Small crosses were fixed to large ones

Europe » Lithuania » Vilnius July 14th 2019

27th June - 14th July 2019 After our great clean up in Nikkala we crossed the border into Finland. No border controls were in evidence so it was very speedy and smooth. As in Norway and Sweden the roads are decorated with signs warning of elk (called moose in Alaska) every couple of kilometres but we never saw one. Jim read that in Sweden each year some 35,000 elk are killed by hunters. Finland is a flat country and if you like lakes, forests and mosquitoes you would love it. It is beautiful in places but the forests make it difficult to see very much as you travel. We chose a road which runs along by the Gulf of Bothnia for fifty miles or so and we did not view the sea once, only forest alongside ... read more
Town walls, Tallinn
Lots of alleyways
Bar staff




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