Monday, 4 April 2016

Discovering the Baltic states - Latvia and Lithuania

Why go there? Well this was kind of an odd one. Let me sum up how the decision was made:

Me: I want to go somewhere over easter, maybe Rome.

Friend 1: but we have both been to Rome. Why not Morocco?

Me: I don't want to go there.

Friend 1: Ok how about Scandinavia?

Me: My bank account says no. Wait a minute. There is that other "North Europe" too...

Friend 1: Great

Friend 2: I want to come with you!

Friend 3: Hi guys, just letting you know, I booked my flight to Riga, I'm coming with you.

That's pretty much exactly how it went. Two months later we landed in Riga and fell in love with the city. We felt at home. Everything was nice, people were friendly and things were CHEAP. I mean CHEAP CHEAP. Cheap as in 3,99€ for a proper meal or 1 € for a drink or dessert or like 60 € for our rental car that we hired fully insured for six days. As a German, that's like paradise. Combine that with the excitement of a discovering two countries you never really heard about because "nobody goes there" (why??? Change your mind people, both countries are super interesting!) and you get a great trip. Speaking about food - amazing. Go for restaurants that serve national cuisine because you will totally fall for bread juice, filled dumplings and red beet soup. Sigh...

I only spend two days in Riga so i can't say too much about what to see and where to go but do check out the lovely city centre , the riverbanks in sunshine and at night time too - it's great.

The second day we drove down to Lithuania. Driving in the baltic states is fun. It seems the only rule that reigns here is "there is no rule". Completely normal to make way for other cars on a two lane road by driving on the emergency lane. Well if a car is suddenly coming your way like a ghost driver because he is overtaking someone - that's exactly what is expected from you - make way! But everyone looks out for each other, it's cute. Really.

Vilnius was nice. The old town convinced us even more than Riga did, yet we prefered Riga's "small town charme". When in Vilnius , do take the walk up to the tower - you get rewarded with a brilliant view.

What i enjoyed even more than the city was the small places like Trakai castle near Vilnius or the famous hill of crosses ( great energy at this place) . My favourite however was the Curonian Spit. We went there by ferry ( 14 euro for a car and 4 people return ) and drove down to Nida. The dunes will make you think you are in Egypt. Such a breathtaking landscape! The Curionian Spit has a border. Basically half of it is Russian land, the other half Lithuanian. Don't go to the border without a Visa. Seriously, don't even try. We tried - it was a bad experience. If you want to get the experience of being 2 feet into Russia then expect to get shouted at by a furious Russian officer.

I seriously hope more people will want to discover these countries. They deserve the tourism and are totally underrated . What are you waiting for?

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