Lithuania: Day 1
While I wanted to try and travel to the Curonian Spit on the coast of Lithuania running from Kailpeda to Nida, Lithuania on down the coast through Kalingrad Russia, it was difficult to locate transfer there at the last minute. You can certainly fly from Riga to Palang for $107 on Air Baltic however, there are no routes leaving Saturday so instead I stuck with my original plan of visiting the capital of Lithuania – Vilnius – first and in that regard, I am traveling via Lux Express for 18€. I found an outstanding number of Airbnb’s in Vilnius ranging from $37 to $100 per night, But I decided to book the Conti at $63 a night as I will likely leave the capital after one day and one night but not before first trying again for a Belarus visa at the US Embassy in Lithuania and hope that the cost is not $436 like I’ve seen online for when you fly into Minsk.
So here we go on a 4.5 hr bus ride with my 1€ hot dog purchased at kiosk at bus station in Riga and my 1€ Redbull. During travel times, you can plan your trips while looking at the countryside listening to your favorite tunes. Remember all of it, even travel days, is part of the journey. Here is what I learned during my research on this travel day: in Lithuania you finally get the choo choos back! Yes. I learned I can stop looking for expensive private transfers and take the train from Vilnius to not only The Hill of Crosses in Šiauliai but go to Curonian Spit in Klaipeda as well. Yes sometimes you have to travel backwards to get where you want to go. This is true in travel by public transport in remote countries and, more importantly, in life. So now I’ll reserve train ticket from Vilnius to Šiauliai for tomorrow evening or early the following morning (2 hr and 7 min trip) and then from Šiauliai to Klaipeda! So excited it’s going to work out. I do note for educational purposes that unless you have a Eurorail pass you, like me at least on this trip, to go to train station and buy your train tickets. Moreover, for educational purposes, since my Latvian SIM card no longer works, I’ve google mapped my directions from bus station to train station and then from train station to hotel and took screen shots of both so in case I can’t get a Lithuanian SIM card right away ie internet data, I’ll know how to get to my next two stops on foot.
It’s official as I write this I entered into country no. 48 at 1:51 pm on Saturday 9/17/16.
Checked in at Hotel Conti in Old Town and for a single room in the attic the cost was $63US and now off to explore Old Town Vilnius, shop for family and eat traditional Lithuanian food at a popular restaurant called Forto Dvaras. It’s a good thing I’m a potato lover bc this is the most popular dish here in Lithuania and this restaurant alone has 38 different recipes surrounding potatoes alone! I chose based on Iveta’s recommendation the most traditional style which is a boiled potato cooked with a beef center covered with sour cream and crackling sauce (not sure what crackling sauce is but this potato was AMAZING!) and no I didn’t stop there. My next course was more potatoes and beef. I will have to walk the entire city to walk this off! I’ll start with hitting a Navarseen for tomorrow’s red bulls and a Lithuanian SIM card. Cost was a mere 3€ for 1.5 GB of data and the red bulls cost half of what they do in the good ole USA.
Following is a little background info on Lithuania: this small country made up of 2.9mm people is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea and is the last of the 3 Baltic states I visited. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast (a Russian exclave) to the southwest. It, like Latvia, was occupied by either the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany from the 1940’s to 1991 but Lithuania was the first to declare its independence from the Soviets in March 1990 which was finally recognized by the Soviets in September 1991.
On that note and following completion of some legal work, I’m off to sleep so that’s all for now. From Lithuania with Love.