Lithuania
Klaipėda County

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  • Day1067

    Parnidis Dune & Curonian beach car park

    May 29, 2019 in Lithuania ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C

    It's been a full and fun day today. We haven't travelled far but Lithuania's Curonian Spit has a lot to offer!

    There was a bit of good(ish) news this morning. The good part is our replacement door handle has been delivered. The 'ish' part is that it arrived at our billing address in the UK, not our shipping address in Lithuania! Oh well, you can't have everything! Thanks to our niece Vicky for waiting in to sign for it and Will's sister Sue for checking it was the right handle.

    We left our payed overnight parking before the charge period renewed at 9am and shuffled up the road to a free car park where we whiled away a leisurely morning. We'll often catch people peering at our registration plate as they go by, but two tourists seemed particularly interested and signalled they wanted to talk when they saw us sitting inside. It turned out they were on holiday from Israel and curious to know what 'GB' stood for. They asked about our route and told us that even though they didn't need a visa to visit nearby Russia, they wouldn't go because it would be dangerous for them, warning us that there were lots of criminals in the country. It's always interesting to hear the viewpoints of those from different backgrounds, although it is a shame that the most forcefully expressed opinions are often negative.

    We might not be able to visit the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad Oblast without a visa but we wanted to drive up to its border all the same, so off we went. The main road grew quiet as we drove beyond the most southerly Lithuanian settlement and a sign in the native language warned of customs. Rounding a bend we saw the standard muted buildings, wire fence and barrier. One thing we didn't expect to see was a fox approaching the guard hut! They must feed it because it was obviously looking for something before it got scared off by a vehicle coming from Russia. We pulled over on the verge and got out. Vicky began snapping away excitedly (mostly at the fox) before Will read the English section of a sign prohibiting photography and filming- oops! Luckily no officials emerged with a reprimand so we turned Martha around and headed back up the spit. There wasn't much to see at the border but the travelling bug pushes us to explore our boundaries and we are glad we visited.

    Next stop was the Parnidis Dune, a 52m high sand dune that was somewhat crowded (by Lithuanian standards). The Curonian Spit has the tallest drifting dunes in the whole of Europe, with an average height of 35m but with some that reach up to 60m! Depending on conditions, the sands drift between 0.5m and 10m eastwards each year. They are a fragile environment and the National Park has a difficult time balancing their preservation with access for tourists, whose footfall breaks down the unstable structure of these windblown hills.

    The little parking area near the top of the dune was full of cars. Not wanting to take up any of the three coach bays, we found a pull in a few hundred metres back down the track and returned, walking past the icecream and coffee vendor and stalls selling amber trinkets. A wooden boardwalk led us to a granite obelisk reaching almost 14m into the sky, on a semicircular base of rune inscribed steps. The structure is a sundial and calendar, with each step representing an hour and special stones marking the equinoxes and solstices. Will was especially fascinated but soon we were both drawn to the wooden platform looking southwards over 'Death Valley', a desert like landscape of 'dead' dunes that, like a slow wave, had swallowed 14 villages over the centuries. It was an awe inspiring sight with the forests of Russia beyond, the shallow sandy waters Curonian Lagoon on the left and the deep blue Baltic Sea on the right.

    In contrast to yesterday's constant drizzle, the sun was shining and the air warm, so after nipping back to the van for lunch we followed the board walk and steps down through intermittent woodland to the characterful seaside town of Nida. Brightly painted flapboard houses and wooden weather vanes were the standout features in this hub of activity. It was obvious that several coach loads of visitors had disembarked and it was strange to hear people talking English to one another, albeit in American and Australian accents.

    Despite seeming like a small town, Nida absorbed the numbers well and didn't feel too crowded. We found ourselves passing the Ethnographic Fisherman's Homestead Museum and stepped through the burgundy picket fence into the grassy grounds. There was a couple of old wooden fishing boats, a selection of painted weather vanes and a few thatch roofed dwellings. For the very reasonable total of €2 we were granted entry to one, where we stepped into the past to see what it was like for fishing families living on the spit. There was very little written information, even less in English but it gave you a good idea through the displays of people mending nets or spinning wool.

    Nida was such a tourist attraction it even had its own Tourist Information Office, where Will asked whether we were allowed to park overnight on the spit, to which the answer was yes! We'd been prepared to hot foot it back to the mainland but were really pleased to be able to stay another night. He also asked about a fishing licence and was told he could buy one from any supermarket if he showed his passport. A source on the internet says that over 65s don't need one, but at €15 for a year they are cheap and having one would save any confusion or the need to prove his age.

    We stayed at a quiet and free beach car park that night and were joined by two little campervans, one German and the other French. Will went for a dip in the Baltic and we took a stroll just after sunset to the see the sky colours grade from blue to flame orange over the water. It had been an idyllic day.
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  • Day1064

    Dovilų Karjeras, another nameless lake

    May 26, 2019 in Lithuania ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    We're wild camping once again, this time in a small gravel car park looking out over the calm waters of a shallow lake with sandy shore. No doubt this lake has a name locally, but it isn't published on any of our online maps.

    We've had a bit of good news. The replacement door handle we ordered from an Italian company has been shipped so with any luck, it will arrive at the UPS office in the Lithuanian seaside town of Klaipeda before too long 🤞 We've therefore headed westwards today, deliberately avoiding the motorway for most of the time in order to get to know the country better. The weather has turned chilly and wet, so its a good day to travel.

    Keeping our eyes open for fuel, we pull in at a station selling cheap LPG and diesel for just €1.09 per litre! It's cash only, but luckily we have enough notes to fill the tank. Accross the road is a kebab trailer in a small car park with wooden shelters and picnic tables. We've made our own meals since arriving in Lithuania 5 days ago so we make an impulse decision to sample some street food. The servers speak a little English (and take cards) so Will ends up with a tray of skrudinti koldūnai (roasted dumplings stuffed with sausage meat) while Vicky has fries with a salad that includes pickled cabbage, carrot and gerkin. The whole lot comes to €4.30.

    Continuing on, passing through the outskirts of Kuliai town, we skirt round our nameless lake on a narrow track, choosing the farthest parking area. Here, a backdrop of pines and shoreline reeds make it feel more rural, although its a shame about the litter. Will picks up the worst and disposes of it in the large bin provided.

    The only other car belongs to a fisher, but other vehicles soon arrive. A family with teenage children bravely bear the intermittent rain to bbq and spend quality time together. Meanwhile groups of guys in their mid twenties, huddled in hooded puffa jackets, stand around their cars listening to loud music and getting noisily drunk. Somehow it doesn't seem as antisocial as it would in the UK. Possibly because we're new to the country, possibly because more people do it. But they are no trouble and in a way its nice to see friends outside, talking and enjoying each other's company.

    Well, the evening wore on and it rained and rained and rained, right through to the following afternoon. The EU election results were announced and the success of the Brexit Party was the first headline in every bit of news. Although analysis shows remain votes outnumbered leave, we worry what Nigel Farage's populist success will mean for the Conservative leadership election, the future of the UK and our post October travels. Here in Lithuania, we've seen very few political posters, despite the country electing a new president on the same day. At 53% their turnout was better than our mere 37%.

    With the pitter patter of raindrops on the roof, we stayed indoors, editing videos, updating our journey map, blogging and binging on YouTube with plenty of cuppas on the go. After lunch Vicky got her wellies and umbrella out for a wet walk. The snails were certainly enjoying the weather on the tarmac cycle track alongside the lake, less so on the muddy road that branched off to the side. We've seen a number of good quality walking and cycle routes which look as if they've been recently created. There is definitely a sense that Lithuania is working well to improve its infrastructure. At this stage many routes lead to a dead end. We've no doubt that in time, the country will develop a great network of paths, providing options for circular hiking and biking trips.

    The evening sees the return of the sun and with it, the groups of guys in their cars. Come 10pm Vicky goes to bed, only for the van walls to start reverberating with the booming bass of their 'music'. It's disappointing when we look out in the morning and see more litter strewn on the grass than when we first arrived. Oh well, time to move on.
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  • Day1069

    Palanga parking & the Dutchman's Cap

    May 31, 2019 in Lithuania ⋅ 🌧 11 °C

    We were a little worried before we arrived in Lithuania about where we would stay. Unlike many western european countries, Lithuania doesn't offer dedicated motorhome overnight parking and its campsites average more than €20 per night. You can imagine how the costs would mount up were we to pay this nightly fee for 8 weeks! However, wild camping is tolerated and Will has found plenty of campgrounds and car parks for us to use, such as this one in parkland on the outskirts of Palanga.

    Before driving here we wanted to visit the Olando Kepurė also known as the Dutchman's Cap, a 24m high sea cliff. We chose to leave Martha at a free, hard sand pull in and walk a little further, instead of paying fees at the new tarmacced area nearer the cliff. A well maintained forest trail led us to a wooden staircase descending to the narrow strip of beach. Strolling northwards along the shore the land to our right rose up. It was made of a muddy brown earth and whilst it wasn't the most impressive cliff we'd ever seen, there was significant evidence of erosion, which kept our interest. Water worn tree trunks lay on the pebbles at our feet, while live trees clung on for above us, their roots dangling in mid air. We also passed a series of large mudslides.

    Beyond the Dutch Cap was a further flight of stairs, up which we climbed. The forest protected us from the wind which had a chill to it today. Much of the fauna we are seeing reminds us of our walks in the Swedish forests when we visited this vast country in 2016. It's an amazing feeling to be able to compare and contrast different areas of Europe like this.

    We managed to get back to Martha before the worst of the rain came and journeyed north to the seaside town of Palanga, parking over the other side of the road from the botanical gardens. We were only a few kilometres from the town centre but it was grotty weather and we'd visited a number of places in the past few days. We wanted to slow things down, so happily stayed put for the evening.
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  • Day3

    Klaipeda

    August 11, 2019 in Lithuania ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Sommer Sonne, Strand und Meer. Urlaub! Heute sind wir mit dem Rad vom Campingplatz nach Klaipeda geradelt. Von dort ging es mit der Fähre auf die Kurische Nehrung. Viele Dünen und endloser Strand. Anschließend sind wir noch durch die Altstadt von Klaipedia gewandert. Nach insgesamt gut 30 Kilometern radeln waren wir wieder beim Campingplatz.Read more

  • Day15

    Kaliningrad Russia Camping

    June 29, 2019 in Lithuania ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Stop for the night at a beach in Kaliningrad for food, beers, and rest.

  • Day14

    Haus gebaut!

    June 28, 2019 in Lithuania ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Es tut jetzt schon ein bisschen... ach was, papperlapapp! Aber unsere Residenz hoch über den Dächern von Volvo, wird uns heute zum vorletzten Mal beherbergen.
    Unser Tauschgeschäft in Litauen: Kakao gegen Slibovitz (das kann man nur richtig schreiben, nachdem! man ihn getrunken hat) und einen Schokoriegel 🍫. Schade, schade, den Slibodarfmannichtwitz müssen wir in Polen gegen was anderes eintauschen. Mal sehen, was es so wird ...Read more

  • Day3

    Kurische Nehrung

    August 11, 2019 in Lithuania ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Auf der Kurischen Nehrung sind wir nach der kurzen Überfährt mit der Fähre zunächst in ein nettes Lokal eingekehrt. Gestärkt ging es dann mit dem Rad durch die Dünen. Viel Strand und Natur, auch ein paar Caches waren dabei.

  • Day6

    Nicht unbedingt ein Traumhotel

    September 13, 2019 in Lithuania ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    Beim Abendessen erzählte uns Maik, dass das Hotel nicht unbedingt für gute Organisation bekannt sei. Schon öfter wurden Abendessen vergessen und das Hotel hat so viele Zimmer, dass sie Putzfrauen nicht hinterher kommen und nicht alles putzen können (17 Stockwerke!!). Unser Abendessen wäre auch fast vergessen worden....
    Auf meinem Zimmer sind auch die ein oder anderen Flecken auf Teppich und Möbeln, aber es ist ja nur für die Nacht.
    Jedenfalls gibt es für uns morgens zum ersten Mal keine Stadtführung (obwohl wir in einer neuen Stadt sind), sondern wir fahren auf die Kurische Nehrung. Auf der Fahrt zum Hafen sehen wir die schönen Fachwerkhäuser in der Altstadt an uns vorbeiziehen.
    Die Kurische Nehrung ist eine Halbinsel und ein Nationalpark. Sie besteht zu 70 Prozent aus Wald und im Sommer ist dort anscheinend so viel Autoverkehr auf den wenigen vorhandenen Straßen, dass oft auch die Parkplätze überfüllt sind. Deswegen wollte man auch keine Brücke zur Insel bauen. Unser Bus wurde also mit der Fähre ans andere Ufer gebracht und wir fahren zu den Sanddünen. Wir können dort auf der Sanddüne neben der Parnidis-Düne laufen (eine der größten Wanderdünen der Welt). Die Holzstege, die auf die Dünen führen, müssen jedes Jahr neu angelegt werden, da sie vom Sand verweht sind. Direkt bei den Dünen ist die Grenze zu Russland, weswegen an dieser Grenze im Wasser auch die litaunische Küstenwache mit ihrem Boot schwimmt. Bei der Düne steht auch eine Sonnenuhr, welche unter anderem mit den litauischen Monatsnamen beschriftet ist. Diese sind nicht so "langweilig", wie im Deutschen, denn sie heißen übersetzt zum Beispiel Roggenernte oder Roggrnsaat. (August und September)
    Von dort laufen wir in das Fischerdorf Nida, wo uns bereits ein kleines Boot erwartet. Wir fahren entlang der Küste und entdecken sogar einen Seeadler.
    Früher war die ganze Insel aus Sand, doch da die Dörfer dadurch immer vergraben wurden, beschlossen die Bewohner, die Insel zu bepflanzen, um sich zu schützen.
    Das Gebiet wurde 1991 zum Nationalpark erklärt und steht auch unter Schutz als UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe. Deswegen gibt es auch nur ein kleines Hotel auf der Insel, denn es dürfen keine neuen, größeren gebaut werden. Maik erzählte uns, dass Klaipėda nur so gut besucht sei, weil alle auf die Halbinsel wollen und es da nunmal nicht genug Schlafplätze gibt.
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  • Day7

    Chorgesang und Segelschule

    September 14, 2019 in Lithuania ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Jetzt machen wir doch eine (Mini-) Stadtführung durch Klaipėda. Mit den Koffern im Bus halten wir nochmal kurz in der Altstadt und schauen uns etwas um. Das wichtigste Ziel: der Platz vor dem Theater. Dort steht eine Statue "Ännchen von Tharau". Das ist auch der Titel eines Lieds von Simon Dach aus dem Ostpreußen des 17. Jahrhunderts. Besungen wird Anna, die Tochter des Tharaher Pfarrers. Sie überlebte drei Männer (alles Pfarrer). Das Lied wurde anlässlich ihrer ersten Hochzeit (mit dem ersten Pfarrer) verpasst.
    Die Statue wurde während des 2. Weptkrieges emtfernt, da (anscheinend) Hitler, der bei seiner Rede vom Theaterbalkon, nicht einsehen wollte, dass ihm jemand den Rücken zuwandte.
    Erst als die Sowjetunion abzog, wurde wieder eine Statue zu Ehren Annas aufgestellt.
    Das Lied wurde früher immer von Reisegästen gesungen, wenn sie an dem Brunnen standen (sagte Maik), doch dass sei in den letzten Jahren immer seltener geworden.
    Wir kamen auch an dem großen Segelschiff "Meridianas" vorbei, das früher für die Segelschule verwendet wurde und heute als Restaurant dient. Die Segel sind in den Farben der drei Länder des Baltikums und sie erinnern an die Menschenkette im Baltikum am 23. August 1989. Sie war 650 Kilometer lang und wird auch der "Baltische Weg" genannt. 50 Jahre nach dem Hitler-Stalin-Pakt, nach dessen Zusatzprotokoll, das geheim gehalten wurde, Estland, Lettland und Litauen an die Sowjetunion  fielen, schlossen sich über eine Million Esten, Letten und Litauer zu einer menschlichen Kette durch die drei Länder zusammen, um ihre Einigkeit in dem Drang nach Freiheit und Unabhängigkeit von der Sowjetunion zu demonstrieren. Sie ist die längste bekannte Menschenkette der Geschichte.
    Danach geht es zum Mittagessen an eine Raststette. Das Essen war... gewöhnungsbedürftig, aber ausreichend. Jetzt geht es noch zu einer Wasserburg, bevor wir in Vilnius ankommen.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Klaipėda County, Klaipeda County, Klaipėdos apskritis

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