Travels with V

Estonia & Lithuania

A city party and an island of sand

Lithuania part three, Klaipeda

Klaipeda, our last stop on this journey is an old port city that for many years belonged to Prussia and went under the name “Memel”. That ended with the first independence in 1923. But the city dates back to 1252 when German crusaders (Lithuania was the last pagan country in Europe) built the castle. It was destroyed by Swedish attackers in 1629.
In WW2 the nazis had a submarine base here and because of that it was heavily hit by allied bombardment. The castle that the crusaders built has been razed and rebuilt many times. Today practically only the ramparts remain.

RESTAURATION OF ONE OF THE TWO ROUND TOWERS THAT ONCE ADORNED THE CASTLE

Klaipeda is not a big city but it has a rather active cultural ambition. The little central square is dominated by a nice 19th century theater, and right next to in they have built a modern drama theater. 

FROM THAT BALCONY HITLER DECLARED "ANSCHLUSS"
THE NEW DRAMA THEATER

Klaipeda also has a big sculpture park with works of Lithuanian sculptors. It’s sort of “modernistic” , but still with one foot in the “Soviet modernism”.  

A MORE AMUSING SCULPTURE IN TOWN. REMINDS US OF PIPPI LONGSTOCKING

Klaipeda is without a doubt a city you can spend a day or two in. They have a very old brewery still making beer that you can visit. Along the river Danè you’ll find lots of bars and cafés and restaurants, children play in a water art fountain and a beautiful big sailing ship is moored.

Most tourists going to Klaipeda have one goal above all others, the Curonian split, a bowed sandy strip of land in the Baltic sea and a National park. It’s a hundred kilometers long but just a kilometer wide, and its south end is in Russian Kaliningrad. To get there you have to go by ferry from Klaipeda. So that’s what we do, to see the picturesque villages, pine forests and beaches, and of course the pièce de resistance, the big sand dunes that has given the spit its nickname “Sahara of Lithuania”. The tallest dunes are over fifty meters high.

It was all luck and no planning, but returning from the spit we find ourselves in a maelstrom of people. The streets are lined with tents selling food, amber and beer. and one woman bakes a cake that looks suspiciously like a spit cake, a local south Swedish delicacy. The big yearly Sea Festival is on, and some beautiful sailing ships are moored by the sides of the river. 

And expectant crowds in front of a huge stage on the pier is the last view we get as we sail out of Klaipeda harbour. And a beautiful sun setting in the Baltic Sea.

Top 5 in Klaipeda:

  1. See: The Castle. Not much is left of the buildnings, just some ground stones from two round towers. But there’s a modern and interesting museum with excavation treasures on display.
  2. Visit: The Curonian spit, just a short ferry trip away. Very bike-friendly (free ride for bikes and bikers on the ferry) but you’ll have to be strong and fit to pedal the 80 kilometers down to Nida and the high dunes. And back again! . If you go by car you have to pay a €30 road fee and parking in the villages. A pretty village nearer the ferry landing is Juodkrante.
  3. Eat: In Klaipeda we found a couple of good places in Old Town. A Casa Mia, an Italian joint, packed and lots of atmosphere almost the real thing. Mosso in the harbour hotel Old Mill is a little more elegant in both interior and food. In Nida on the spit we had yummy smoked fish in the pleasant garden of  Tik Pas Jona
  4. Bar & Café: Outside or inside? At Cremia Cafeteria on Theater Square You sit in a greehouse, so it’s a bit of both. Ecxellent pastries and good coffee. But then the coffee is good almost everywhere in he Baltics, except in the café chain Caffeine. Bars are found everywhere in Old Town, we tried Urzaa by the river but we didn’ like people smoking hookahs at the surrounding tables.
  5. Shop: Do you like amber? Then you’re in paradise, it’s sold in many souvenir shops in all kinds and sizes. But the best amber shop in Klaipeda is Amber Queen, a fashionable business in Old Town where there’s lots to see and buy, and even an exhibition of animals trapped in amber.
Resebloggar finns det gott om men vi har en lite annan tanke med våra berättelser. Vi vill främst beskriva våra upplevelser av udda platser, människorna vi möter och miljöer som är rätt annorlunda mot vad vi möter hemma.

Därför hamnar vi ibland i avlägsna indianbyar i Guatemalas berg eller bland andetroende bybor på en ö i Indonesien. Men också på mer kända platser som Machu Picchu i Peru eller sandstränderna i Goa. Allt sett genom våra ögon och kameror.

Den som vill ha restips får också sitt - varje resmål har en avdelning med sånt vi kan rekommendera. Eller undvika. Vårt fokus är framför allt att sporra er läsare att göra som vi - resa rätt ut i den vida världen.