Lithuania Road Trip 2022
Lithuania is tucked between Latvia and the Russian province of Kaliningrad on the Baltic. Klaipeda is the only port city of any significance and became our base during our visit to Lithuania. Due to our size, we could not fit in the marina and were directed to a spot along the canalized river wall behind a naval destroyer. The following day we relocated to a quieter spot that also had power.
We were very fortunate to have a friend in Lithuania, Algimantas Bublys. Algimas was a neighbor of ours in Coconut Grove who summers in his native Lithuania. We kept in touch after he moved to Arizona and he offer to be our guide when we visited Lithuania.
After a couple of days of site seeing in Klaipeda, Algimas joined us for one night on the boat. We then set off for resort town of Palanga with its Amber Museum and great beaches. Then on to Kretinga, where we visited the local castle with it’s amazing greenhouse and had lunch in the restored village.
On route to Plunge where we stayed overnight, we stopped to visit Algimas’s friends restored mill house in Zemaitija National Park. Also in another part of the part was the Cold War museum with its extensive underground missile set up…spooky.
Plunge is a city of about 25,000 and hosts the beautiful Oginskio Rumai (Castle) and its grounds. In the winter, this town is a ski resort. On route the next day to Siaullai, we stopped at the Hill of Crosses. During the Russian occupation, locals would plant a cross on this hill, then more crosses would come, then the Russian bulldozers would come, then a new cross would come….resistance. In Siaullai we were able to visit one of the many arenas that Algimas designed over his architectural career, both in the US and the Baltics. This arena featured a very unusual glass that changed color depending on the angle of the sun.
We made one more stop in Kedainai on our route to Kaunas. The old town of Kedainai dates to the 17th century and is one of oldest in Lithuania. This town was in remarkably good condition with it’s beautiful cathedral.
Kaunas is one of those places few Americans will ever see as it is inland without a major airport, port or river cruise. Aside from being very charming it houses the larges Art Deco church in the world, an extremely ornate Basillica and spires that reflect it’s role as a Hanseatic City. Over the entire summer we tried to visit as many of the Hanseatic League (a trading block in the middle ages) as possible….we stopped at a least 25.
On route to Vilnius, we stopped at the Trakai Historical National Park, home of the Island Fortress dating from the 14th century in Gothic style. Mostly restored, this was a half day visit to tour the half that remains today.
When we got to Vilnius, we could immediately sense this was Algimas’s home city. Fortresses, churches, museums, public sculptures, medical streets, fashion shopping districts and many restaurants. Gediminas Castle Tower being a favorite as one can tell from the pictures.
Leaving Algimas, we headed straight back to Klaipeda, naturally with a couple of stops along the way to see a castle, fort, church or have lunch. Arriving back in Klaipeda, we discovered all the roads into the city were closed off….another festival. After explaining our situation, we finally got back to the boat. We were now surrounded by an amusement park, concert set up, vendors tents lining both sides of the river and Fleet Week for the Baltic navies.
Dan ended up with three Polish sailors on the boat taking pictures with the flag and drinking a lot of beer. The following morning we were headed for Poland, having to skirt around the Russian province of Kaliningrad…by skirt I mean 25 miles off shore. Turns out our new sailor friends where on Polish warship 241 and returning to Poland also tomorrow…now we had an escort.