Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Only got the briefest look at Vilnius, Lithuania's capital. Here's why

Ironically, writing the previous blog (about how relaxed Nida made us) took longer than expected (flickr was misbehaving) and so our last 2 hours in town was stressed and frantic. Typical. But still a wonderful experience. We hopped on the bus in the afternoon and took the 6 hour ride to Vilnius with super cranky bus driver guy, who almost got himself arrested when he tried to run over/bump the guy directing traffic off the ferry (evidently he wasn't letting us go soon enough).

Arrived in Vilnius a little after 9 pm, and, as appears to be par for the course for us, realized (though we already knew it) that our sleeping place was on the opposite side of the downtown/old town from the bus/train station (same as in Klaipeda, Sigulda, Kuressare, etc.). 30 + minutes and two steep hills later we made it to the youth hostel. Stayed up until midnight writing postcards and trading travel ideas with 3 cool brothers from France (who highly recommend the area around their home town) and a nice lady from the lake country in northern England. Both offered to show us around/let us stay with them if we passed their direction. I love hostels. Crashed into our beds around midnight in our 9 person dorm. Was kept awake most of the night by coughing (one of the other travellers must have had bronchitis). I hate hostels. Despite the really far location for 1 night's stay, we are glad we stayed there. The hostel is in the U┼żupis neighborhood which has (somewhat jokingly) declared independence from the rest of Vilnius. Once a year the mayor stamps passports coming in and out and they even have their own constitution (which has line items like a person has the right to celebrate his/her bday or not, and that cats have full rights of roaming and should be taken care of). It's a bohemian neighborhood with lots of galleries and would have been fun to explore further.

Stumbled sleepily back down the hill and walked all the way back to the station to drop off our bags so that we could sightsee until our 5 pm bus. However we ended up spending most of the rest of the day trying to figure out how to send our first souvenir home (as we have no room to take anything with us). We loved Nida so much that we wanted a reminder of it, and really liked the fishing license weather vanes that I took so many pics of. So we had a mini one of those. Plus Brian was ready to buy himself a new jersey so the Ajax one needed to go. Anyway, after an hour plus of walking we got to the DHL office and found out that it would cost us $85 to get our goodies home. Hmmmmm. After more walking and some creative packing, we found the central post office and figured out a way to send it home for $10. Better.

Walked in a daze through the rest of old town and got groceries and picked up our bags and climbed on our bus for the 14 overnight trip to Krakow. We had been dreading the trip and it was pretty much as awful as we had expected. The two biggest issues were probably the fact that the seats were sooo small and the fact that in the middle of the night the air conditioning must have been turned off so we couldn't sleep/couldn't breathe/felt sick. And that was after they had subjected us to Meet the Fockers and Night at the Roxbury!!!! (dubbed in Lithuanian...even better) Eventually someone opened the roof vent and things got a little better so we got a few hours of sleep (probably about 3 hours total?) broken up by a 45 minute stop at 3:30 am at a McDonalds somewhere in the middle of nowhere, Poland.

Arrived in Krakow at 5:45 am, and managed to negotiate our way to the train station, find an ATM, and push our way onto a bus for Zakopane that left about 6:15 . 2.5 hours of a beautiful drive and full Brian crank/crash mode later, we were dropped off in Zakopane. Brian will cover all this in the next entry..


A couple more funny stories from Nida before we go:

1) As you will have picked up by now, we have managed to book ourselves into places that require long (mile plus) walks from the bus/train stations with our packs. (Of course most of these places tell you how to get there (and recommend) by tram/bus/taxi/etc., but we're a) too cheap, b) too stubborn/proud and c) enjoy walking too much to ever take that advice. Anyway, we arrived in Nida and we're trying to figure out how to find our rented flat. The joy on Brian's face was a sight to see when he realized we were across the street and over one house from the bus station. Saying that he was giddy would probably be putting it too mildly. The location ended up being super convenient and nice (albeit a little louder than we would like) and certainly made a nice change from our average commute (which we promptly got back to again in Vilnius)

2) Our clothes were getting pretty nasty by the time we got to Nida and needed more than just sink washing (plus the water stunk of sulpher and was kinda brown, so I wasn't super keen on trying to wash clothes in it). So when we got going on our first morning, we took a big bag to the (only) laundromat. It's not self-service, it's the kind where you leave it with them and then come pick it up all folded. We hadn't really prepared for that, and so were a little dazed (and feeling a little silly) when we walked out of the place 5 minutes later with no clothes and a receipt that said it wouldn't be ready until after 5 pm the NEXT day. All of a sudden we found ourselves with pretty much no clothes but those on us at the moment. It actually was a good thing that it rained most of that next 24 hours, as all we had were pants and long-sleeved shirts. It really was a helpless feeling to know that if anything happened we would have nothing clothes-wise, so we were pretty happy to get them all back (clean smelling!!!) the next evening.


Anonymous said...

Ummm....please tell me you don't have a picture of this:

"when we walked out of the place 5 minutes later with no clothes"

Anonymous said...

Nida is laid back and has nude beaches (all sorts in fact with all sorts of confusing classifications on different signs) but not that laid back...

Perhaps in Oregon you can get away with that but not Lithuania!