Hiking Adventure from Tallinn to Lisbon!

Kaliningrad

We have to admit that this part of the trip worried us the most. Would we get a visa? Would there be any issues at the border? Would it be dangerous? Would people in Russia be unfriendly, grumpy, closed?

To get a visa was easy as pie through an travel agent in Riga. At the Lithuanian-Russian border right after Nida, we went through a normal procedure, no questions asked. We had to take a bus, however, as crossing the border on foot is not part of the procedure. We got off in Rybachy, where we started the Russian part of our hiking adventure.

We have a habit of greeting people in the local language wherever we walk. In some places, they look at us in surprise or even turn away, but not in Kaliningrad. Our “dobryy den’ ” was always answered and in some cases, people started asking about our trip, and we tried to tell them as much as Moiken’s basic Russian allowed. On day 77, our first day of hiking in Kaliningrad, we had just walked through a field of wild plants, improvising our way to the road, when a lady from the farm we were passing stopped us. We thought she would scold us for crossing her field, but she asked if we wanted something to eat or drink and if we were tired. Then she offered us to rest on a bench at a small lake which belonged to the farm. Grumpy and unfriendly? Not even close! During our time in Kaliningrad Oblast (province), we felt as safe or unsafe as anywhere else.

DSC04870
DSC04875
DSC04883
DSC04884
DSC04870 DSC04875 DSC04883 DSC04884

The woods and beaches seemed to be much less explored, which we liked – except for the fact that there were no hiking trails. It was either beach walking or road hiking. Our first destination was Lesnoy, which we reached after hours of walking on soft sand. The sights at the beach were really beautiful, but they couldn’t compensate the great effort we had to make to get ahead.

DSC04887
DSC04890
DSC04894
DSC04901
DSC04887 DSC04890 DSC04894 DSC04901

The next day, we only had to cover 15 km until Zelenogradsk, a popular beach resort town. We tried walking on the beach again, but it was too difficult, so we changed back to the road. This is the only road on the Curonian Spit, so there was quite a lot of traffic. Without a side strip for pedestrians, hiking was not fun at all.
When we had reached Zelenogradsk, we decided to explore Kaliningrad and surroundings as much as possible in the coming days – but not on foot.

DSC04904
DSC04906
DSC04917
DSC04921
DSC04926
DSC04936
DSC04937
DSC04943
DSC04904 DSC04906 DSC04917 DSC04921 DSC04926 DSC04936 DSC04937 DSC04943

We took a train to Kaliningrad-City the next day, where we met our Couchsurfing hosts for days 79 to 81 of our trip.
 
Olga and Sergey were fantastic; they showed us around in the city, spent the whole Sunday with us and were extremely kind and helpful. Moiken needed to see a doctor (nothing serious, just an ear treatment) and Olga not only made a last-minute appointment for her, she also took a bus into town to help her communicate with the staff at the clinic.

The city of Kaliningrad is a fascinating mix of remnants of the Prussian city of Königsberg, Soviet urbanism and modern buildings.

DSCD04955
DSCD04959
DSCD04960
DSCD04966
DSCD04968
DSCD04975
DSCD04976
DSCD04997
DSCD05000
DSCD05004
DSCD05007
DSCD05059
DSCD05063
DSCD05064
DSCD05065
DSCD05067
DSCD05072
DSCD04955 DSCD04959 DSCD04960 DSCD04966 DSCD04968 DSCD04975 DSCD04976 DSCD04997 DSCD05000 DSCD05004 DSCD05007 DSCD05059 DSCD05063 DSCD05064 DSCD05065 DSCD05067 DSCD05072

Quite a number of green areas, rivers and lakes give the citizens and tourists some space to relax. The best place for that is the Kant Island, with the Königsberg Cathedral in its center.
DSCE04958
DSCE04972
DSCE04974
DSCE04979
DSCE04985
DSCE04989
DSCE04992
DSCE04998
DSCE04998a
DSCE04958 DSCE04972 DSCE04974 DSCE04979 DSCE04985 DSCE04989 DSCE04992 DSCE04998 DSCE04998a

This was were we had an amazing evening thanks to our hosts, two gifted musicians. They took us to the park to sit down and enjoy their music, as well as participate in it (pay attention to the percussion in the sample included in the Kaliningrad summary)

On Sunday, we went together to the coastal town of Yantarny, where a huge part of the world’s amber production is mined. We didn’t see the mines, but a very popular beach and a beautiful lake, which is a leftover from amber mining.

DSCY05010
DSCY05011
DSCY05014
DSCY05020
DSCY05021
DSCY05022
DSCY05024
DSCY05031
DSCY05039a
DSCY05042
DSCY05043
DSCY05045
DSCY05050
DSCY05052
DSCY05010 DSCY05011 DSCY05014 DSCY05020 DSCY05021 DSCY05022 DSCY05024 DSCY05031 DSCY05039a DSCY05042 DSCY05043 DSCY05045 DSCY05050 DSCY05052

We had planned on cooking dinner when we returned from our trip, but heavy rain in the evening delayed our arrival at Olga’s and Sergey’s place by several hours. First, the bus back to Kaliningrad – incredibly packed – got stuck in the traffic jam, then we had to wait another hour or so in the city until we managed to find transportation to their neighborhood.

On Monday, we had lunch with Svetlana, a very nice and well-traveled couchsurfer from Kaliningrad, walked around in the city, bought our bus tickets to Poland, had medical treatment, enjoyed the sun on Kant Island and finally prepared dinner for our hosts and their friend. A perfect evening to finish a great time!

The following day, we would be crossing another border; stay tuned for more about our adventures in Poland in the upcoming post “Copernicus Trail”.

loading map - please wait...

Bus Station Nidos: 55.304167, 21.007297
Rybachy: 55.159573, 20.842236
Fliegerhause: 55.010991, 20.617733
Baltijskaâ Korona Hotel: 54.962561, 20.481284
Train Station Zelenogradsk: 54.958527, 20.472765
Train Station Kaliningrad Severny: 54.721720, 20.500617
Sergej and Olga: 54.678000, 20.522833
Bus Station Kaliningradskij Avtovokzal: 54.693439, 20.502398
Bus Station Braniewo: 54.380944, 19.840980

2 Responses to Kaliningrad

  1. I am thinking of hiking the E9 too, and Kaliningrad is the part about which many other websites say “there is no hiking path”, nothing more.
    Thank you for your detailed report which makes me look forward to that part in particular. It would be my first time in Russia.

    • Hi Andreas! Thank you very much for your feedback. Although we can confirm that we didn’t find any hiking paths, it is not impossible to walk there. The eager hiker has to face soft sand at the beaches of the Curonian Spit, however, or be brave enough to walk alongside busy roads with little to no space for pedestrians. Still, we enjoyed our time in Kaliningrad a lot.
      Don’t forget that you really can’t cross the borders on foot. Take a bus to cross the border and get off at the first stop to start walking.

Leave a reply