22 July 2006:My morning wake was at 8:30am. After my awake I headed straight downstairs for my breakfast. Before 9 I should have reached the well-known spot “Hill Of Crosses” for a few photographs. Hill Of Crosses was one of the most significant sightseeing in Lithuania, gathering a lot of people (local and tourists) on a daily basis, to admire that really interesting sightseeing.
The setting was spectacular, although a little bit spooky. Thousands of crosses (no, it was NOT a cemetery) one over another, one next to the other, all of them gathered over a hill. Between them there were narrow paths were the visitors could wander around freely. After taking some photos this interesting and original spectacle, I took the road back to my hotel, where I would begin my trip for Palanga, Lithuania’s beach and summer resort.
The route from Siauliai to Palanga was around 150 kilometres. Many parts of the road were in a good shape, although some others were full of bumps. I reached Palanga around 1 in the noon. The city was reminding me how a Greek summer resort looked like. I managed to find a cafeteria with parking in the central road and I hang there for a while. A beautiful waitress with enchanting huge green eyes served me, as usual, a cappuccino. She was speaking English, due to tourists.
During my time sitting at the cafeteria, a message from Suzis came with the phone of Tomas, a guy that was living in Palanga. Tomas would assist me on finding a room to stay for the night. We settled for a meeting at 2 in the central gas station, which was close to my cafeteria. He came with a friend of his (Jonas) to meet me and proposed to me to stay at a guest house, since it was offering the same accommodations as a typical hotel, although a lot cheaper. After all, as he explained to me, all the hotels were full due to a festival that was taking place that specific weekend.
We went to the guest house that he mentioned, which was really close to the center of the town. The woman owner of the guest house talked only French and Lithuanian (she was a French teacher). She would give me the room for 180 Litas for two nights. I agreed, talking half French and English. My schedule was straight-forward. On Sunday I would leave Palanga, without luggage for Klaipeda and Nida and I would return to Palanga to leave on Monday, with an … unknown destination!
Right after the woman owner shown me my room, the guys told me that after 1 hour they would come back and pick me up with their car to show me the sightseeing. So I did a quick shower and got ready. After 1 hour, Tomas came along with his friend again, Jonas (which unfortunately didn’t speak English) to pick me up with his car.
The first place we went was the familiar pedestrian street that would lead up to the pier. The pedestrian street looked like Ermou Street in Athens, during high traffic. This was the place that everybody was walking up and down all the time of the day. The temperature was 25 degrees and everybody was wearing a swimsuit. Reaching the pier after 10 minutes of walk, I discovered that this was actually my first time that I was seeing the Baltic Sea. Of course, at the beach, things don’t change a lot from Greece, a huge crowd, one right next to the other, but nobody seemed to complain. The most interesting part of this was that even though everybody was sunbathing, only a few daring people were actually swimming in the sea. That’s because Baltic Sea is considered one of the coldest seas in the world. Temperatures in the summer start from 13 degrees if there’s a North wind and end up to 22 degrees if there’s a South wind … and 22 degrees is considered one of the best cases!
As Tomas told me, in the afternoon, a lot of people would gather up in the pier to stare at the sunset. After sitting for a while at the pier enjoying the view (!!), we decided that it was a good time to go to eat something.
We took once more the car and headed for a place 8 kilometers outside Palanga. The restaurant was a huge area, decorated as a typical Lithuanian village. There were many big kiosks in the area, where people could sit and enjoy food. The area included kid’s place, tennis, horse riding, paintball, basket, football, small shops and of course, lots of foods, at logical prices, considering the place you were. After a while I discovered that they were brewing their own beer. At the restaurant I tasted (ok, the guys convinced me!) cold soup, another fantastic Lithuanian specialty. Highly suggested solution for the hot summer, since it’s cold enough to freshen you up. We’re not talking about a hot soup chilled out, but an actual cold soup, very tasty and filling. In order to be sure that I would fill my stomach up to the top (typical Greek behavior), I also ordered the classic pork shish kebab. Portions were huge and relatively cheap, according to the Greek standards. In order to get a clue, I paid 12 euros for one 500ml beer, the cold soup and the shish kebab and finally I concluded that the portions were too huge to manage to eat all of it by myself!!!
After our lunch, the guys left me to my hotel. After that, I went out by myself at the pedestrian street to enjoy a cup of coffee and stare at the beautiful sightseeing. Unique experience!! Seeing how my schedule was shaping, I decided to announce to the guys in the capital that I would pass by them on Monday, to salute them.