There’s a nice pedestrian boulevard leading to the beach and is lined with bars and restaurants. It’s at one of these that we tried one of the popular local beer snacks, pigs ears. One bite was enough to put us off for life, chewy and gristly and not very pleasant.
We were amazed when we turned on the TV that night as we found a re-run omnibus of NZ Police 10-7, complete with Lithuanian audio.
Transport between major towns is pretty good, generally there’s a mini bus that leaves once it’s full of people rather than at a given time, although it’s not too long to wait for the next one. Palanga was a bit packed with tourists for us so we took one to Klaipeda (quite a speedy trip), our final stop in the Baltics.
The city itself has a small old town which like the other Baltic cities is the main tourist attraction.
Our accommodation was in a great location, easy walking distance to most things. It came with the use of a bike and we hired another and biked to the largest mall in Lithuania. In terms of size it probably isn’t as big as Riccarton Westfield but it does have an ice skating / hockey rink in the middle!
It turns out that this day with these bikes was to be our last because when we went to get them the next day the lock had been sawn through and they were gone. It turns out that bike theft is a major problem and people go to great lengths to secure their bikes even hiding them up trees! The ironic thing is that we then realised we were pretty much in the same car park as the police station, a lot of good that did.
Not letting the experience deter us we hired bikes another day (not from the same company) and biked a 53km track down the Curonian Spit to a town called Nida. The track itself reminded us of Bottle Lake forest in ChCh, it runs behind sand dunes and through forest. We were determined to make good time and completed it in just over 3 hours, no wonder it took a day to recover. Nida is one of the southern most parts of Lithuania, in fact the Russian boarder (the area of Russia where Kaliningrad is) is only 4km away, Matt was contemplating the swim.
A short ferry (5-10min) from Klaipeda across the lagoon is the settlement of Smiltyne. Not so much a town as just a gateway to the beach. The beach is long and has beautiful sand, the main deterrent would be the pretty constant wind that whips along it. The solution is to find a good sunbathing spot among the sand dunes which is nice and sheltered and you can still get a view of the water.
We’ve enjoyed our time in the Baltics, we both agree that we would definitely go back to Estonia but probably not to Latvia or Lithuania. Estonia just seemed to have a bit more life to it, people more optimistic about life and it seemed to be much more well kept.
Lessons from the Baltics:
1) Always take money to the toilet, it usually costs 40-50cents.
2) Don’t bike through cobbled streets, too hard on your backside.
3) Hide your bike up a tree.
4) There is no such thing as a laundromat, dry cleaning is available at 7 euro per item of clothing.
5) Estonian women have very good genetics.