Every journey has its life cycle. From the early amazement, through slow disapproval, until the final satisfaction, and game-changing learnings. As a traveler you need to be prepared to experienced it all, otherwise, somehow, it’ll feel kind of incomplete.
You have the childhood when everything is new, fresh, and exciting. You want to see and touch everything. Next, comes puberty with its characteristic 'question everything' mindset. All of a sudden every corner brings frustration and disappointment, instead of adventure. Finally, you have your mature years. You are a bit of an expert now, you know how to explore new stuff. When you end the life of a journey, you can feel complete: your job is done here but starts somewhere else.
As my epic 6-weeks Lithuanian adventure was coming to an end, I felt more secure and more confident with discoveries. Asking a random man about the local history was a no-brainer and done with grace, same for entering bravely in a forest full of sticky swamps, just for the fun of it. Key learning: life’s too boring not to take risks. Also, key learning:
Key learning: life’s too short not to take risks. Also, key learning: friends are everything.
If you ever travel on the West side of Lithuania – alone or with a group – make sure to:
- sleep in a tipi on an Indian-style camp in Vinetu Kaimas and ask for the evening jam sessions
- take a long walk on the dunes in a beautiful Nida island
- have a swim (if you dare) in the freezing Baltic Sea
- eat waffles in Palanga (Lithuanian sea resort)
- spend at least one night in the beautiful rustic house of Sodyba „Eve” near Šilutė and go to the fields to watch the sunset
- drink a giant beer in BlueOrange bar in Kaunas and take part in Xbox competition
- visit the medieval Kaunas Castle (fans of Polish literature will find it especially interesting because of its connections with the book 'Konrad Wallenrod')
- sleep in a tree house in Tauru Parkas – to get there, you’d need to challenge yourself in the Adventure Park
- get a sip of history in the famous Trakai Castle, 28 km away from Vilnius and inhale the atmosphere of medieval lifestyle and charming landscapes of the nearby lake and forest
I experienced all (and more) of the above. To have a good time, as I did, I recommend you to do it with a group of friends, with a limited budget, and a good camera.
I visited Lithuania thanks to my participation in Roadtrip Lithuania – a 6-weeks social project, organized by AIESEC Lithuania. In short, Roadtrip Lithuania was a 6-weeks long, meaningful adventure across the country. Being part of the international group of 6 volunteers was a dream come true as the project was a pure definition of what I call ‘awesome’. We were packed in a small hippie bus with a mission to travel around Lithuania, give presentations about our culture in local educational and social institutions, get to know Lithuanian traditions, places and people, and document everything like true travel journalists.
To find full content simply go to roadtriplithuania14.blogspot.com. Photo and video credits belong to Rogelio Robledo, Kamia Fernandez, Li Wu, Caterina Falvo and Zé Vieira Lopes.
Here’s the last tribute and the last report of this incredible adventure.
Stop number 6: Kaunas and Palanga, where WIND BLOWS as a group of travelers in an old hippie bus discover new places, taste new experiences, and learn new skills.
Laaabas! My name is Eleanor and I am a hippie bus. This summer, I was chosen to be THE one, which will get this unique opportunity of carrying 6 strangers around Lithuania. Nice and easy job, you’d think? Well, not exactly.
So, you would like to know how was it? To tell you the truth, after those 4 weeks I cannot recall all that I’ve experienced during this journey. But I’ll tell you what, for them, I might have seemed quite and dumb all the time, but in fact – I heard, saw and felt EVERYTHING. All their conversations, all their thoughts, all their emotions. So you think you have watched all the photos and videos, read all the articles and now you know what REALLY happened during the project? Shhh… my child, you know nothing. Since this is the last piece of the RoadTrip diary, let me share with you some pieces of their personal stories. Because I’m Eleanor and I know things.
The one where wild Mediterranean appears
So Lithuania is very different from my country. Example no. 1: it’s not raining that much. But it’s OK, I was a scout once so I know how to survive in extreme situations. But the thing I really cannot understand about this country is freezing water in the sea. Seeing Baltic Sea for the first time in my life, when we visited Palanga, was a remarkable experience. And the sand was not burning my feet! Other beautiful things to discover were the dunes in Nida – just like a desert, but a cold and windy one.
Cool weather conditions recompensed with the warm atmosphere of music, which surrounded us all the time. When we visited the absolutely unique Vinetu Village, I felt like in heaven. In the evening we all sat in the biggest tepee, with bonfire inside, and the owner of the camp gave us Indian instruments to play with. It was just like a jam session!
The next time when I felt like this happened in Šilutės, in a Culture Centre. We heard live traditional Lithuanian music, played by a professional musician. Plus, we were treated in a typical, extremely hospitable Lithuanian way – with food and drinks. Apart from all this, I still sometimes felt nostalgic for my country. But guess what? A little part of Italy appeared unexpectedly when we were staying in a beautiful place called Sodyba „Eve“. In one of the bathrooms, we found a bidet! Some of my teammates have seen it for the first time. I couldn’t believe that – how can you live without it…?
The one from the Hunger Games
Today I saw a cat. It was SO CUTE; little and black and it was running away from me but I didn’t care – I love you, cat. I could play and feed him all day long, but we had to move for another adventure. Those Hunger Games are killing me. OK, I was trained for this at school, so I could manage perfectly with shooting arrows and extreme camping, but come on – walking in swamps?
When we visited Šilalė, the amazing young people from Youth Centre ‘Pulsas’ took us for a trip in the forest, where we took a challenging stroll in the mud. And because I’m quite tiny, I thought I’m gonna stay there forever. Luckily, my friends helped me survive those sticky moments. The expedition continued: they made us climb the trees in the Adventure Park and, when we were in Tauru Parkas, we had to sleep in the trees, too! So as you see, I’m becoming a true ninja here.
Although, I must say that I’m experiencing some brief times of joy. It’s always a relief not having to run and fight for my life every time I cross the street; the drivers are so polite in Lithuania. In my country (funny fact: it consists of 7107 islands!) it’s really different. Apart from that, one of my biggest dreams came true. When we were in Palanga, the city which I liked the most, we had a chance to try ourselves in the roles of the radio stars. We participated in the radio audition in radio LRT, and it was absolutely unforgettable! The best part though happened in Kaunas, where in BlueOrange bar I took part in the Xbox competition – and I won! I even got a delicious award – can I keep it?
The one with maternal instinct
I really didn’t realize what I’m putting myself into, when, at the beginning of the trip, I said to the interns ‘don’t worry guys, I will take care of you!’ They really took it seriously. They started to call me their ‘mamma’ (and because I speak the language, they tried to translate it to Spanish. But guys, ‘mamasita’ doesn’t particularly mean ‘mother’!). Anyway, every day I heard the same set of questions, with ‘where are we eating today?’ and ‘is there wifi?’ as the most common ones. Luckily for them, I am the best mom in the world and we had a chance to eat in some really nice places, as for example Bulvinukė in Palanga. And when we were staying in a Honey Valley campsite I was kindly offering them delicious cookies all the time.
Still, there were some advantages of being a Lithuanian mother for a bunch of strangers from foreign countries. I discovered that I can raise them all the way I want it and so I made them learn Lithuanian language all the time. It was perfect because at some point I was really tired of translating everything for them. I figured – why not make them believe that speaking Lithuanian is easy? My best student was Kamia, who learned to introduce herself fluently in my language, but what’s better – I even trained her to order food in the restaurant by herself – all in Lithuanian!
There were also some other nice moments, where I could transfer all my maternal love to animals, too. Just to mention amazing animal shelter or a winter garden, where I could touch a cute little bird – a dream come true!
Because you see, it’s not like something starts and then ends. It just starts… and goes around – but never stays the same. And so they just went each other’s ways in every direction possible, but they surely didn’t go the same way they came from. They took off for other adventures, much richer with what they’ve experienced, survived, seen, heard and been through. At some point, they all put their backpacks on their backs for the last time on this trip. Was the luggage lighter or they’ve just got used to constant carrying all their belongings with them? It was filled with memories counted in every measure – hours of long conversations, decibels of loud laughter, miles of walks, liters of rain and kilograms of eaten potatoes.
Damn son, it was a hell of a ride. And as challenging it was, for sure it made me happy too. Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you one more time to my children, who I carried through this crazy Roadtrip. 6 strangers – the most random family on earth.
If you’re interested in getting to know the rest of the Roadtrip Lithuania adventure, check my other traveling articles here.