Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lithuania! Vilnius, Trakai and Siaulai


2257 (localtime)

Vilnius, Trakai and Siaulai, Lithuania

Written in: Riga, Lativa – in my dorm room.

Howdy all, another update coming your way and it concerning Lithuania! When I was in high school I never ever imagined myself going to Lithuania, its really funny how you predict life to go, but actually you have no idea what’s going to happen in the next 5 years… sometimes its nice to take life as it comes. Have no expectations and you will have no disappointment… Probably not the best way to tackle life in a professional sense… but for a travelling sense, its not so bad!

Ok, so lets talk a little bit about Lithuania!

I arrived to Lithuania from Warsaw, Poland on the 20th of August. I had to wake up so early to catch this bus that was leaving at 605 in the morning! Meaning that I set my alarm for 5am – washed my face with a little bit of water, and had some breakfast. I started walking to the bus station with plenty of time, but I couldn’t find the place where the bus was leaving. People kept on telling me different places where the station was. I eventually found the bus station with 7 minutes to spare, showed the guy my ticket and was set!

I was trying to sleep on the bus but to no avail instead I watched Blade! Wesley Snipes is so bad ass in that film!

I eventually arrive at Vilnius by 3pm (ish) and with the clocks going forward 1 hour due to timezones it wasn’t that bad of a journey. I quickly found my hostel checked in and went wandering around the city.
The city itself isn’t all that bad, there are plenty of street signs pointing you in the right direction its quite  a fun city to explore. I walked past pretty buildings and even climbed to the top of a old castle. I was full of energy from sitting on a bus all day that I walked until it was dark.

The Lithuanian guys are friendly too, I got chatty with a local skateboarder about skating, he was telling me that he has worked all summer, getting paid hardly anything so he could afford to go to London to go skating! His English wasn’t bad, so I was trying to explain to him that he should try and find a job in London somewhere so he can stay a bit longer… maybe he listened, maybe not… either way its nice to hear a young dude saving his money to do something he wants to do!

I also wandered into a local music store, where I checked out his old LP’s, he had some absolute classics in there… I could have spent a fortune, everything from – Creedence Clearwater, to Bob Marley! It s awesome.

Anyway, I took my photos and headed home before it got too dark.
Back at my hostel, I got chatty with an English guy called Barney, anyway we were talking about going for a day trip to Trakai, which is about an hour away from Vilnius. Perfect, looks like I had company for my day trip.
So we got up pretty early and caught the bus to Trakai and 1 hour later we were there.

We walked around the little village, one of the main sights to see if the old/very much refurbished castle, that is situated on the lake. It’s quite a nice looking place, the lake itself has several islands scatted all over the place, it would have been really nice to go for a Stand Up Paddle board.

Me and Barney tried to find out more about the Karaims or Karaites, who are a religious group of people from Trakai who, to my understanding believe in Christanity and Islam and a bunch of other religions, it would have been interesting to find out more but the museum was closed. Google It…

We walked all around the city all day. I even tried some Krass (I think that’s how its spelt) which is a type of cider…? Which is quite commonly drunk in the Baltic states. Its quite cool, just served off the street in a big vat, normally surrounded by aggressive wasps and bees… GREAT!

When we got back, we just chilled out as tomorrow we were getting up really early so we could go and spend a day in Siaulai.

The plan was too catch the 6.30am bus for 3 hours to Siaulai to see the ‘hill of crosses’. I got up at 5.45am and had a quick breakfast, woke up Barney and headed to the bus station with all of our stuff.
From Siaulai I was going to head to Riga and Barney to the Caranatian Spit, in western Lithuania. When we got to the bus station, we dumped our bags in a baggage storage place, found out the required information about bus times and what not, and then headed to the information centre because we wanted to rent some bikes to ride to the Hill of Crosses which is 10km out of town.

We grabbed some food before the trip and started our ride to the hill of crosses, by 30 minutes we were there.

The Hill of Crosses is like a small hill, where hundreds and thousands Christians come every year to place  crosses in the hill, either for a family member that has passed away or even just to mark a place… its very weird and I imagine at night time it would be pretty haunting!
Check out the photos, it’s a very photogenic place.

Ok, so we road back home and wandered around the city until our buses arrive. I was told that you can just buy a ticket on the bus to get to Riga, so when the bus… no not a bus more of a Ford Transit arrived I knew I was going to be in trouble, as the bus was completely full… Lucky for me a Chinese couple were in the same situation as me.

A taxi driver arrived after he noticed that not everyone was going to fit on the bus and he stated his fee of 240 litai, for 3 people which is about 23 euros each… almost 10 euros more expensive than the bus… what this taxi driver didn’t realise is that I have come from Egypt where bargaining is a skill – I persisted and got the taxi driver down to 150 litai, which is only 15 euros each! PERFECT!

The taxi ride itself was very boring, I fell asleep for most of it.

Eventually we arrived into Riga – I said my goodbyes to the Chinese couple and found my hostel…

I was in Riga!
Till next time

Another building in another city... 

another church!

this place was cool, i met a local skater who i chatted to here!

a view of the city!

Lithuanian flag!

ok, so this is in Trakai, and the lakes there!

the castle in Trakai!

Barney - off with your head!

the courtyard of the castle! 

my turn to do something stupid!

Now these photos are taken at Siaulai - hill of crosses!


Getting Arty!

Our contribution! 

Barney and the big J!

Hundreds and Thousands!

Hope you enjoyed! Stay Tuned for the next update!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Riga and Segulda - Latvia!


1328 (localtime)

Riga – Segulda, Lativa

Written on: a bus to Tallinn, Estonia.

Riga… hmm it’s a interesting place. It’s probably not my favourite city, but if you get on a bus to Segulda then it’s a different story. Segulda and the Gauja National Park is awesome.

I came to Riga from Siaulai, Lithuania. As soon as I checked into my hostel, I knew it was definitely not going to be all that great… there were the standard dumb Australians there travelling in groups of 6 or more just being loud and rude… Right now I’m genuinely worried that when I get back home, I’m going to see all Australians this way. It was so embarrassing when people asked me “where are you from?” and the amount of people that would instantly judge me as soon as I said Australia… it was shocking.

I thought the further I went East, the less touristy it got… I was wrong.

Not to worry… so when I got into Riga it was night time so I wandered around the city at night enjoying the live music.

The next day, I just cruised around the city all day, looking at all the pretty buildings – but walking down the old market was the most fun.

That night I had a pretty early night, as the next day I was going hiking in Sigulda.

It was a late start for me, I didn’t get to the bus station until 11.30am, and I instantly caught the bus to Sigulda.

The bus journey took a little over an hour I hopped off the bus, got a map and met some German girls who were going the same way as me.

We had a great day of hiking through the forest, they weren’t the fastest of hikers, but it was good fun just having someone to talk to. We hiked all around the national park. Looking at old castle ruins and lovely scenery.

Ill tell you what was cool, was that in one of the castle when you go inside you can dress up as a Knight, fully equipped with swords and armour! It was so awesome! It was fantastic to feel just how heavy everything was, with all the equipment on it weighs about 30-40 kilograms!
 Check out the photos to get a proper understanding of what I’m talking about!
 I think for this photos speak louder than words… check them out.

That night I went out with the English guys, had beers it was a good night…

So now, I’m on a bus to Tallinn, Estonia so I can hang out with Margus and Teele. They are an Estonian couple that I met out in Egypt. Its going to be so much fun to spend some time with them.

So the next update will be Estonia!
Cant wait!


The following photos are of Riga.

As i jumped out of the car, i was greeted with some AMAZING CLOUDS!

Europe does clouds well...

The main church.

Really nice looking buildings in the city centre.

A nice looking church... but why the renovations...?

The lovely lane ways of Riga

A park with a lovely river running through it!

Gotta enjoy a bit of nice flowers!

So i stumbled across this whilst walking back to my hostel... not sure what was going on, but good fun!
From Left to Right - Estonia, Latvia, Germany and Lithuania 

A lovely bridge, its a pity you cant cross it, as its for trains.

A beautiful view across the river
These photos are of us hiking in Segulda Park

The german girls i met

part of the old castle

the beautiful palace taken from the castle walls

All dressed up... apart from the watch it looks legit!

A spear man! YEH BOY! - gear was sooo heavy!

a shot of the river!

good bit of cloud formations!

We found this beautiful rehab centre on our walks! 

very pretty

so more castle ruins!

ahh, we found a cave!

so lovely to get out of the city!

another cave with markings on the walls