Day 68 was the day we crossed the second border of our trip. We almost missed it, because a) we were practically on Lithuanian territory since Pape and b) the borderstone at the beach marking the real border between both countries was well hidden. As we learned from our Lithuanian hosts the evening before, the coastal properties up to 15 km North of the border are mostly owned by Lithuanians. Because the Lithuanian coast is so short, they like to buy summer houses in Latvia. In fact, all signs were already written in Lithuanian and Latvian, cars had Lithuanian number plates, and people greeted us with “Laba diena” or “Labas”. After following a beautiful path through the forest, we changed to the beach, where we found the border mark thanks to our GPS.
At first, we didn’t notice any difference, but as soon as we saw the first beach bars – almost non existing in Latvia – we realized: There is a lot going on at the Lithuanian beaches. Lots of people were in the sea despite the really windy and cool weather. In the beach town of Šventoji, the feeling was of Tenerife in high season. Hundreds of stalls selling beach articles, souvenirs, waffles, ice cream, kebab; wooden huts for rent everywhere; holiday apartments, restaurants, bars with live music – the full program. It was a bit of a shock for us, coming from the quiet Latvian coast, so we didn’t remember to take any pictures. We went for an evening stroll to the beach, however, and discovered this peaceful scenery:
On day 69 we reached Palanga after an easy hike on a bicycle trail and on the beach. Like in Latvia, we saw former observation posts from Soviet times, reminding us that this part hasn’t always been so idyllic.
Palanga is the biggest beach resort of Lithuania, so to all the bling of Šventoji you can add a huge sea bridge and a beach promenade full of people. To be fair, Palanga is a bit more classy and there is life after summer in this town.
The next two days, we were hiking to Klaipėda, one of the biggest Lithuanian towns and important harbour. We could have done the distance in one day, but then we would spend even less time in the country. Plus, José’s foot frequently started to hurt a lot after 10 km of walking, so we reduced the daily distance a bit. Lithuania is a really bicycle-friendly country, we always found good hiking trails if we followed the bike routes.
On day 71 we arrived in Klaipėda, where we stayed in a cute little apartment for three nights. It was quite rainy that day, so once we settled in, we just went shopping, stayed in the apartment for a home-cooked dinner and watched the rain from inside.
The next day was really special, because we would meet Moiken’s cousin Thomas and his wife Ines. They spent their summer vacation in the Baltics and fortunately we could be at the same place at the same time. But first, we had to run some errands; José needed a barber, and Moiken had to go to the post office. The main post office, from the time when Klaipėda was the German town of Memel, was an attraction by itself:
At noon, Thomas and Ines arrived at our apartment and we soon set off to explore the city and catch up on each other’s adventures.
The weather was in our favour; after a rainy morning, the clouds opened up and we could walk the charming cobblestone streets and admire the half-timbered houses.
We had one more day in Klaipėda, which we mainly spent relaxing, reading and writing in the apartment. In the afternoon, we went for a stroll around the harbour. One of the ferries from the Curonian Spit had just landed and out came hundreds of tourists, many on bicycles, more than we thought could fit on the small boat. We would take the same ferry in the opposite direction the next morning, so we decided to leave really early to avoid the masses.