Beginning of a new era; starting in Lithuania

I could see it now, the border to Lithuania. My two-wheeled friend had almost made it, it had come down to four kilometers. Instead, I was drumming the dashboard, as we, the Polish guy and I, raced over to the first Baltic country. This man was heading to Vilnius and coked up on Red Bull, he was about to show me how the people around here drive. Lawless this is, something I now got to experience on the inside of the metal cage, in opposition of next to it. The car flew over the road, going way over the limit, overtaking at ever possible moment, whether it was in a corner, with oncoming traffic or prohibited. He even managed to get a few ‘text and drive’ moments in there. I did enjoy the lovely surroundings of the many fields and forests in Lithuania, when the shrieking tires and sudden brakes didn’t interrupt the moment. Nonetheless, I made it in Vilnius without a scratch, after a meal was offered. Oh you Polish…

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For unexplainable reasons, I felt more drawn to Kaunas and not even the slightest to Vilnius at the time, even though I didn’t know a thing about either. I went for my feeling and stuck my thumb up in the air, enjoying the sunset in the meanwhile. A young couple had pulled over at the gas station and the man was waving me over. They were heading home, which happened to be in Kaunas. I quickly jumped in. A long ride gave plenty of time to get to know each other. Giedre and Remigijus are both filled with lust of travelling as well – actually, as this sentence is being written, they are in Italy. Most of the times only for a day of 2 or 3 however, as their jobs and kid occupy a lot of time. The kid was all the way in the back, where he prefers to sit, dozing off. With all my free time, the lady admitted to being fairly jealous of me. She teaches moms and the husband keeps himself busy with filming, such as music clips. Arriving in the second biggest city of Lithuania, the night had already fallen and the campsites were closed. As they did not feel comfortable leaving me in the woods at night, I was invited in to sleep on the couch. A hamburger for dinner followed by waffles decorated with sugar filled goods as breakfast. After some time of beans, old bread and hunger, my stomache did not mind the unhealthy meals. De-li-cious!

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Going into the City of Green, I named it that, I wandered around, realizing my backpack is incredibly heavy for an all-day walk. Unprepared as cyclist, I had begun hitchhiking with the loads of things my panniers used to carry. However, every mistake made now, I will have to live with and it will be a lesson for my next trip. Taking a break at Old Town, I met a Swiss biker, who seemed to be much more prepared for his trip. The idea is to travel for a year, started in Switzerland and to return going through the Baltics, Russian and Scandinavia to make his way back. However, opportunities on the road might change his plan, he told me. I wished him good luck and he was off, going towards Riga. A little bit later, I met an enthusiastic girl, excited to see a backpacker. She helped me carry my handbaggage for a bit, as she showed me around. The city in a way amazed me. Wherever I went, it was green. Big trees, filled with leaves everywhere. Besides the many beautiful parks situated here, these trees are amongst the houses, a strip of them perfecty lined up and well-kept grass. This city has found a way to thrive with the nature, and given that the two biggest rivers of Lithuania, Nemunas and Neris, meet here, makes for beautiful scenic viewpoints.

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As drops of sweat began crawling down my face, I made way out of the centre to find a garden for the night. The first houses, without a doorbell, remained with a closed door. I do not know why, yet I tried the house next to these ones as well, which had its garden filled with spare auto parts and other junk. Two unhealthy looking cats were eating what looked like the remainings used in a horror movie. I knocked on the door, while a dog kept barking through the window. There was a smell in the air so thick and gruesome – probably the cat’s dinner – that even Death himself would dislike going there. The man kept shouting in what sounded Russian, leaving the door shut. I slowly backed up, regretting ever entering. Opening the gate, the door flew open and the man with bended back and a glass of eye gave me an angered look, as if I had awoken him from his beauty sleep. I asked if he spoke English, feeling slightly uneasy. He shouted his response – no – where upon I put up a smile and waved him goodbye. I skipped the next few houses and tried one a street further. An old couple came out. With gestures I managed to explain that I would like to put up my tent. Instead, I could sleep on the first floor where I had a balcony with a gorgeous view. Much better!

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Even after I had showed pictures of my two German shepherds and clearly let them know I didn’t mind, they kept handling their playful dog of two years as if it was a wild K9 dog with rabies. It was a sweet dog. When walking him, he was so happy as he ran and swam in the river. Of course he had to wait with shaking off the water until he was next to me. In the evening, the neighbours around my age had come down – or well up, at the balcony – for a chat. Mainly to be the tolk. I stayed here for a night extra, to explore this city. When coming back late in the evening, when the couple had already gone to bed, I would find a meal prepared upstairs. The man helped me coming up with a route to the road that leads both to Klaipeda and Riga. I had no idea what I wanted yet.

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I waited for over an hour, when a young lad pulled over. He had nothing to do that day, so even though he was going to the opposite direction he gave me a ride. With experience in hitchhiking in the Netherlands, he told me that the people in Lithuania don’t seem as happy. In Amsterdam, the people seem less worried and troubled by daily problems. We swapped stories, before he dropped me off in a small town. Finding rides didn’t go as well as planned. A lady had explained to me, that the people don’t like to stop. She was right.. It took me a few rides and nights to get to the border to Latvia. Nights with grand fires and rides with great people. One man however, amazed me by his skill of changing subject. We went from the colour blue, while naming colours, to Adolf Hitler. I don’t see the transition either.. Nearing Latvia, there was a family guy that dropped me off a few meters before the border. His English wasn’t perfect, but he was very enthusiastic and cheery. At the border I stopped for the usual and crossed.

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4 thoughts on “Beginning of a new era; starting in Lithuania

  1. Prachtig weer Dan! Met veel plezier weer gelezen. Ik zie het gewoon voor me, zo beeldend geschreven. En prachtige foto’s natuurlijk.
    Dikke kus Willie

    Liked by 2 people

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