Monday, 6 August 2007

Lithuania - Tallinn by Bus....

From the streets of Poland's depressingly unfriendly capital we trudged via tedious night bus through the plains that lie to the east in the land of the Pole, to the unknown entity that is Vilnius.
The first thing we noticed about Vilnius was that our Pole funds were obsolete, thus noting how we had now entered a new realm of law and order. The once Grand Duchy of Lithuania (now just the plain Republic of Lithuania, the Grand Duchy moved to Stevenage to open up a pub in his own name if I'm not much mistaken) welcomed us with arms wide open, but these wide and open arms carried treasures our disheveled and tired bodies greatly required. So after partaking in a swift couple of Lithuania's finest Svytury Ekstras (local alcoholic beverage, 1 pound a pint!) we were forced to hit the hay after 10 hours sitting on a coach. A coach that felt the need to stop every 2 hours for a break and thus go about waking all the journiers up from their blissful slumber. This cycle got tiresome (literally) and was the main cause for our only getting a poultry 2 hours of nap time in. Other causes of this travesty being the big smelly Polish person with a beer belly the size of Andorra being very noisy next to me, or even "her" annoying son and his insessant chair bouncing.
Vilnius itself has a lovely quaint "old town" which maintains an authentic medieval feel with a touch of modern capital city class. Then across a river is the developing "new town" with a couple of token sky scrappers and an umbiquous shopping mall. We decided to venture from our accommodation in old Vilnius over to new Vilnius just once but got side-tracked by a strategically located pub which sits half way between each shore of the dysecting waterway on a foot bridge, perfect for catching unwitting wanderers at the point of no return. So a few drinks and a pizza later and three decidedly more wobbly explorers decided to sack off the prospect of the modern world and return to the traditional establishments of yesteryear.
So while in Vilnius we kept busy doing a number of activities ranging from 360' spins on the magic tile, too wandering up hills to gander at castles and spectacular panoramic views. In the mean time we befriended a couple of Aussies, a Scot, and a Kiwi, I broke my flip-flops, had my trainers stolen and we dined Al Fresco in the middle of a cobbled street. All in all Vilnius was grand, plus it was lovely and sunny the entire time, with bright clear blue skies. (However I hear the weathers picked up with you folk now anyway so I needn't have come half way round the world to chase it, can't complain though!)
Estonia, the original stamping ground of Ram's legend Mart Poom, came next. With it's enormous church tower looming on the horizon we endured a couple of further bus rides, visiting the Latvian capital of Riga briefly, to get to our intended destination of Tallinn.
During our 3 days in the heart of this Baltic state one member of our team enjoyed his coming of age 20 years. For the fine fellow's celebrations we traipsed across town in search of the most splendid culinary experience we could muster. Unfortunately for the now aged traveller, the only place willing to accept us when we came knocking at nearly 11pm was the local town hall gift shop, so we indulged on a piece of quiche and a chicken wrap each and set about discussing the pros and cons of the governments proposed Identity Card scheme. Agh, the joys of being young, free and single!
Tallinn offered everything that Vilnius offered plus some more, bigger churches, more exquisitely preserved old town charm and heritage, but it charged marginally more for this pleasure, a jaw dropping 2 pound 50 pence for a half litre of beer (fast becoming the common standard for price comparison the world over... no arguments here!) But the people were friendly, the atmosphere agreeable, and the weather again excellent indeed (who would of thought we were further north than Newcastle at this point!) Bravo Tallinn and Vilnius, bad news for them though is at some point we intend to go back!!!
And so on we go, many a time we had wished to stay a little longer in a place, but we have a timetable and if schooling taught me anything, it's that you keep to your timetable. Any deviations for personal gain are received with letters being sent home to your parents! So onward to Russia, St. Petersburg and Moscow if they let us it!
Until next time, Dasvidanya comrades!

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