Lithuania II

After walking back into Lithuania, our first stop was a place that had been top secret for twenty years: an ex-Soviet missile launch site, which is now a Cold War Museum. It’s creepy to say the least and we were happy to come back into the warm sunshine after visiting the exhibition and peeking down the missile silo.


Stopping for gas in Palanga was a good choice as we discovered what a nice little seaside town it is, but we had a room booked further down the coast in Klaipėda, where we arrived with plenty of time to explore the pretty old town.



The Curonian Spit was next on the agenda – an absolute highlight. The Baltic spit coast is very special and this is one of the finest examples – so much sand, such high dunes, such extraordinary landscapes, such cozy little villages – and the border to Kaliningrad, Russia. Strange again to see a marine vessel in the lagoon guarding the border on the water.



The next day we went down the coast of the lagoon an enjoyed it just as much as the spit.


And then it was time to turn East again and South eventually: home.

One last stop in Kaunas showed another thriving city with a lovely old town.


We’ll be back!

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Latvia

Spending each night in a different place can be quite tiring, so we took a break from the road when reaching Latvia and spent a few days at the beach in Jūrmala.
When I first walked up on the beach there were people in bathing suits to one side and people with coats and hats to the other. 10 minutes later I was wishing for a hat too – it was quite windy.


But it got nicer and warmer every day and we were able to fully enjoy and appreciate the Latvian beach culture with the cafes/bars in the tents along the beach.


And the sometimes quite impressive new and old buildings along the beautiful tree-lined roads.

 

Of course we also spent time in Rīga – a beautiful city, full of history and wonderful (art nouveau) architecture. Also full of tourists, mostly in groups… and you can tell at every corner that the city lives off those tourists. I found it a little overwhelming at times.



Next stop: Kuldīga, a small city (ca 12,000 inhabitants) in Western Latvia: very charming. 




They also feature two prominent waterfalls and quite impressive sandstone caves in a village nearby. And yes, in case you were wondering, we did do the walk across the river just above the falls.


Just as nice as staying at the beach and visiting the cities was driving through the country side on small roads.



Finally crossing back into Lithuania… I walked…

Water falls

The little town of Kuldīga in Western Latvia offers several superlatives (according to our guidebooks – and they look “impressive” in real life too).

There’s the brick-lined bridge over the river  Venta – it was built wide enough for two carriages to pass each other easily in 1874. Not sure what the superlative is exactly, but I read something about one – somewhere…


The waterfalls Ventas Rumba right next to the bridge are the widest in all of Latvia: 275m across (300 yards). They are only about 1m high (3 ft), but who cares about that.


Just beyond the bridge the little creek Alekšupīte empties into the Venta – forming Latvia’s highest falls right there: 4m (4.4 yd)


What can I say, it’s a small country too… but charming…

There’s also an medieval square somewhere in town where the first potatoes were sold in all of Latvia – yet to be discovered by us.

Travel companion needed

I don’t mind travelling alone and I don’t mind driving for several hours by myself either. But twice on my trip today (5 hours on the road) I really missed a travel companion. 

I wanted (needed) to stop for a break and pulled into a service station directly on the Autobahn. There usually is a gas station and a restaurant, not necessarily in the same building, often even a few hundred meters apart. As was the case where I pulled in. So I followed the signs to the restaunt – and ended up amongst all the trucks already parked there for the night. And as you cannot reverse or turn around I had to park there too.

I have no idea how I ended up there instead of the nice car parking – I would have needed someone to help me interpret the signs. It made me feel a little better though when I noticed another car also parked in my area when I returned from my coffee break.


The nice weather made for the most beautiful sunset a little later. We had the brightest, clearest sky! There was snow on the fields. The trees were backlit by the most perfect round red sun – slowly sinking lower and lower.

And I did not have anybody to take a picture. Really! Not just to post – that one would have been a keeper to go up on a wall somewhere.

In that moment travelling alone really didn’t cut it at all.

Mountains and medieval towns

When travelling, we go on road trips often enough, but now, for the first time, we are taking such a trip through Germany – not the entire country of course, but we are hitting some highlights!

The Harz mountains with the famous steam train, the Brockenbahn:


The mountains are located in the center of Germany. There used to be a West Harz and East Harz. There is nothing higher in Germany to the East and the North than the Brocken (1,142m, ca 3,740 feet):

Our gateway to the mountaints was the quaint little town of Quedlinburg, where we also had the first (but not the last) locally brewed beer of the trip:

Also famous for the Harz are the witches and their dancing ground:

Going South we came across the Kyffhaeuser, a mountain range with quite a remarkable landmark: one of Germany’s still existing 43 (of well over 100 at some point) Kaiser-Wilhelm memorials:


Next, one of the most visited cities in Germany (at least by international visitors) is medieval Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which is indeed beautiful day and night:


We still have a few days left…