On the Road AgainJune 10, 2019 in Lithuania ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C
Although our time in Warsaw and Vilnius has been very pleasant, we didn't come all this way to just wander about sightseeing. We are a cycling group after all, and we want to experience what it is like to pedal our way through the Baltic States.
We knew that the day would begin with a bus transfer, but we had no idea of what type of bus would be provided for us. I had visions of all twenty of us jammed into some Soviet era minibus. This could not have been further from the truth. We emerged from our hotel to find a HUGE modern (and air conditioned) bus waiting for us across the road. If the bus itself was not of gigantic enough proportions, it was enlarged even further by the very impressive bike trailer mounted behind it.
This was easily the biggest bus we have ever used on any previous Ghostrider adventure. The opulent size meant that our team members could spread out inside the bus and really enjoy the ride. We even found that the bus was so long that passengers in the front and rear seats were in different time zones. Our driver answered to the name of Vaidas, although it was a bit of a shame that he spoke almost no English.
In spite of his lack of English, he was obviously a skilled driver and managed to manoeuvre the behemoth through the narrow streets with comparative ease. About an hour later we arrived at Trakai Castle. While we explored the large lakeside castle, Vaidas unloaded the bikes from the trailer. Once again the temperature started to soar towards 30C. All that cold weather clothing stayed securely hidden in my case.
After a look around the castle we stopped at a lakeside restaurant for lunch, before finally getting on the bikes for the first time. We were relieved to discover that the bikes appeared to be brand new, although it was impossible to tell what brand they were as they had all been painted the same green. We spent a short time adjusting the seats and loading the panniers, but soon we were underway.
We had been promised that the Baltic States were "flat and cool". That was obviously a lie. After a couple of kilometres we encountered the first climb,and it was progressively followed by a succession of others. That was not in the agenda, nor was the blazing sun and high temperatures. We quickly realised that this was not going to be an easy ride after all.
Because of the large number of riders, we divided into two smaller groups, each one guided by a GPS equipped rider. From time to time we stopped to consolidate the groups and make sure that everyone was OK. The scenery was superb and the road was relatively quiet. The few vehicles that were there gave us a respectful separation.
The rolling green hills reminded me of Finland and Sweden, but the dilapidated houses reminded me more of some of the old villages we had ridden through in Hungary. At one stage we rode into a tiny village and found a general store that sold ice creams and cold drinks. That really was a welcome discovery.
At around 4 pm we were met by Vaidas and climbed back onto the bus for a transfer to Kaunas, the second largest town in Lithuania. It took about 90 minutes to reach our hotel - the Best Western Santaka. Judging by the enormous sizes of the rooms, this was probably once one of the finest hotels in the city, however it is now showing its age a little.
When I tried to have a shower I discovered that the hot and cold taps were fitted back to front and the plug hole did not drain. I was soon standing in 10 cm of warm water. All part of the experience.
Tomorrow we head off early for our second day of cycling. The weather forecast is for the weather to be even hotter. Sometimes the life of a Ghostrider is not as glamorous as you might think. On the other hand, it sure is a lot of fun.Read more