The determination of our holiday destination this year was not difficult. We pointed to a place on the map and that was it!
We knew that Lithuania was worth visiting from several TV reports and from magazines. What can we say - but that Lithuania is worth visiting.
We decided to take the car and to manage the longest distance by using the ferry connection between Sassnitz and Kleipeda. Thus we were able to retain the holiday effect for a long time.
Well, we were, as usual, late with our holiday planning and bookings. The cabins on the ferry were fully booked and the only option we had were Pullman reclining seats. That didn’t sound bad when the booking was made. But the disillusion came when we saw the seats. They were as old as the ship was.
Anyway, a very kind lady on the passenger service team managed to find a cabin for us and we were able to sleep more relaxed. We decided to try the same procedure on the way home.
We arrived at Klaipeda on a rainy day.
Kleipeda is an old harbour town and was able to retain a lot of maritime flair and has an attractive pub scene. We saw teens performing a public Break dance contest. It is not really the type of music we like, but it was nice to see. </br>By the way, one has to whisper the wishes one has to the mouse and hope that they will be fulfilled. Some contemporaries tried to push it by providing secret commission.
We managed a tour to Nida on Curonian Spit by ferry and bus.
The highest sand dunes of Europe (68 m) are to be found near Nida. We have seen very special pieces of drift wood on the way to the dunes. Gesine meant German florists would be chuffed seeing those woods.
Surprisingly we realised that the dunes were located at the Curonian lagoon and not at the Baltic sea side. Since we wanted to see the Baltic we made a little walk heading westward. That turned out to be a good choice. We passed an independent artist colony located in an old grain store.
At the beach access we noticed that Lithuanians designate beach areas for nudists and for women. The latter we haven't expected. We were also surprised to see how often the cabanas were being used. As one says: Other countries, other culture!
We left Klaipeda and started our way to Kaunas, a 200 km ride. Different to German Autobahn it was very relaxing to drive with 110 km/h. Apart from the normal traffic we saw some very surprising facts. We saw walkers, bus stops and bicyclists. The latter were along the way in our direction, opposite to our direction or they just crossed motorway's median barrier.
What we intentionally avoided was to bring along a car navigation device. We only had a general map of Lithuania in 1:800,000 scales (1 cm=8 km), the addresses of our hotels and a map of the respective city centres kindly provided by the "Inyour Pocket" press for free.
After following a road sign saying "Centras" and proceeding along a 6 lane street for a while, we had the feeling that we were not really on the way to the city. I asked a kind waitress at a sports bar and she said that we were outside the city map and we drove back. One stop and a short map discussion later, we were still outside the map, but we managed to find the way to the hotel quickly.
Kaunas is a nice town. The old town is in very good condition. Looking carefully around one can see the remaining pieces of a time nobody likes to remember. Some arts shops offered art which was not the usual tourist trinkets. Luckily we have seen some wedding preparations and that abide impressions.
I was really surprised about the fact that one could pay at even the smallest kiosk with a credit card. That is what we call service for the customer!
From Kaunas we drove to Vilnius, the capitol of Lithuania. Well we should better forget the fact that we used on our way a street on which was a flurry of commercial activity. Vilnius is a great town. There was no language of this world we didn't hear during the few days. O.k. we don't discuss Suaheli or Samoan now.
In any case, we visited a lot attractions and the town is worth being visited again.
Remarkable, as a side note were the lamp variations we found at a covered shop area and the little coffee shop around the corner. They served all varieties in paper cups but the coffee was very delicious.
We visited Trakai, a Medieval moated castle, on a guided tour. They are saying Trakai is the largest moated castle in Europe. Our guide told us a lot about Lithuania and the people. It was very interesting to get a bit deeper information about the country. We hadn't known that Lithuania extended from the Baltic to the Black Sea 1,000 years ago and that the language is unique in Europe. We can definitely confirm the language fact, it is very special.
From Vilnius we drove to Sventoji a small but popular sea side resort close to the Latvian border. We collected some small amber pieces at the beach. From Sventoji we made a little detour to Palanga.
Palanga is the amber town of Lithuania and some local amber artists have opened their galleries. Gesine couldn't resist their offers and I was pleased to buy the desired pendant for her.
From Sventoji we made the short ride back to Klaipeda to get the ferry back home. The later cabin booking worked fine. So we were able to get a cabin on both tours and to enjoy the crossing.