30.09.2015 - 06.10.2015
I received an email the other day from my mom, “WHERE THE HECK ARE YOU? You haven’t posted on Facebook or put up a blog since October 1!”
Only my mom would worry about me. The rest of you probably know that I’ve been having too much fun to stop and put some words on a page. But now that I’m solo traveling for a few days, I’ll try and play catch up.
We crossed the border from Latvia to Lithuania, surrounded by green farmlands, resting cattle and big blue skies. We had stopped at this random turn down the road at what’s called the Hill of Crosses. We only found out why it was called that when we saw what lay there.
Hundreds of thousands of crosses are placed here. Back when Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union, crosses were banned. In their act of rebellion, the Lithuanian people escaped to this countryside, where they posted every cross and religious relic they could. Apparently, this place has been burned to the ground at least twice, but people continue to rebuild. A personal theory is that Dracula had these all put here, far from Romania.
Another stop in Lithuania took us to the Curonian Spit. It’s only interesting in that today, the 90 km strip of land is split between the Lithuanians on one side and the Russians on the other. It's a fishing village in the summer where you can find dried fish. In the off-season, when we were there, you can find loads of closed restaurants, deserted beaches and cloudy skies. My tour members would argue that it was worth the visit.
We spent two days in Vilnius, a surprisingly happening city with an edgy subculture of artists who have even claimed their own nation, Uzupis, in part of the city -- going so far as to create their own Uzupis constitution, which I found incredibly amusing. If Trump is elected president of America, I know where I'm moving...
Our last stop in this beautiful country was in the Austijika National Park. We stayed with a family who cooked us homemade meals (a treat when you’re on the road). Amongst all of our city stops, I think we really appreciated the forced downtime and opportunity to explore nature in this awesome setting.
Some snaps of the lake in front of our country house where we jumped in after the sauna; kayaking; home-made Lithuanian meal of sausages, potatoes and turkey in gravy; the owner of the kayak company insisted we partake in some moonshine post-kayak.