Weekend in Lithuania
1997 A Holiday
FridayHaving caught the overnight bus to Heathrow, duly caught my Lithuanian Airlines 737 to Vilnius I arrived. Once clear of the Airport i caught the bus into town and made my way to the Centrum Hotel. The staff were very friendly and gave me a tourist book with places to see, eat and popular phrases.

Having unpacked and it was late decided to brush up on my Lithuanian before going to the restaurant. Being in my usual cheeky attitude I had noticed that after the usual good mornings, yes /no and thank you there was an unusual phrase for a tourist phrase book so waiting for the attractive receptionist to be on her own I went up and asked how do you correctly pronounce this - well she got a little embarrassed - the phrase was == May I have kiss Please (not in the last Official City Guide).

She always seemed a little flustered when I walked through the foyer with a smile. Well in the immortal line from the Magic Roundabout -- Time for Bed.

SaturdayWell after an early start and a hearty breakfast it was time to take my little booklet and walk around the town centre. The first place was to find the old KGB building where after a small entrance fee I was shown around by one of the lasts guests of the KGB who returned the building back to the Locals in 1991. It was amazing that the Lithuanian had left it just as it was complete with blood on the padded cells where they had tortured the occupants.

The next was to find the Jewish ghetto of which there were 3 but only one was within walking distance. One of the locals saw me looking at the map and Insisted on taking me to the ghetto not leaving me until I was at the commemorative plaque, despite not being able to talk any English and it was obviously out of his way.

I also crossed the Neris River to the national Gallery and during the day I took photos of several churches of various designs, wooden houses and the Parliament buildings. There were so many styles as well from different periods in Time. I also found a downstairs bar frequented by the young people and had a typical Lithuanian meal.

SundayI had previously written to a friend that I was visiting Lithuania and would be in Plunge for a few days so I walked down to the station to get the train, The journey was interesting including passing an air base with Mig 21s but I did not have my camera handy otherwise I would have loved to have got a photo.

I arrived at Plunge - no friend having waited for a hour and no friend I phoned only to be greeted with that I was not expected despite having received the letter.

Eventually we arrived at my friends flat at it was evident not only was I not expected but there was nowhere to stay and there were no vacancies in the only hotel. So after a walk around the Museum and the town having a coffee en route we visited some relatives for tea. In the evening I was taken to a brother whose daughter had just returned from the UK. The welcome here was totally opposite and the welcome was like a lost relative. I was to have her room for the next 2 days. Before I knew what had happened they had arranged the next 2 days trips and the son and daughter would accompany us.

MondayAfter breakfast we set off travelling west to Klaipeda then south stopping of at the Juodkrante (Witches Mountain , walking through the forest of carved faces and statues after a quick bite at the cafe we set of again to Nida (Neringa) for the highest sand dune in Europe at over 200ft

During the whole time my friend said very little , almost ignoring me - later I was to get a letter apologising for her attitude, but it was great to talk to her niece

TuesdayDuring the night the temp had dropped to -7oC and there was 6 inches of snow but un daunted we set to Siauliai (mount of crosses). The trip was reasonably uneventful and it was time to return to Plunge so that I could catch my train back to Vilnius

Back to the Hotel Centrum and early night after walking to the Bus station ready to catch the Wednesday afternoon flight back to Heathrow.

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