Klaipeda and the Curonian Spit

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July 23rd 2015
Published: July 23rd 2015
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If you thought that Farewell Spit sounded like an abusive way to say 'goodbye' then the Curonian Spit is Europe's answer to it. The Curonian Spit is about 100km long, currently belongs to two countries (having changed hands about 7 or 8 times in the last 100 years), a couple of km wide, and made mostly of sand held together by pine plantations.

Just across from the Lithuanian end of the spit is the port of Klaipeda (previously known as 'Memel' if you're older than Dickie).

I took a bus ride to Klaipeda from Riga, and had a few hours to look around the town. In the 20th century it belonged to Russia/Soviet Union and Germany about 3 times each, and to Lithuania twice.

The following lovely sunny day I hired a bicycle and took a ferry-and-bus ride to halfway down the spit. Beyond halfway, the spit becomes part of the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad (previously known as 'Koenigsberg' if you're older than Dickie). Without a Russian visa, I wasn't going there, so I cycled back to Klaipeda, stopping to climb the odd sand-dune, visit the beach, and generally see the sights.

The lagoon (and surrounding area) is the world's main source of amber.

50km of cycling is more than I've done anytime recently, so I ended the day with a sore ring-piece. Apart from that, it felt pretty good, since the previous two weeks had been looking at cities, so it was awesome to spend a day in some countryside. There aren't a lot of water-supply options on the spit, so it's never been heavily occupied.

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