There are plenty of options for weekend travels from Warsaw. This time we're heading to Lithuania. I'm excited about visiting my first ex Soviet Socialist Republic and seeing where my Aunt Elaine's family is from. I'm also interested to see how it differs from Poland as it was all once one big country, the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth formed in 1569 and lasted until 1795 (Thanks, Wikipedia!). I’ve been brushing up on my Polish literature, and I’m also learning about some of the cultural connections between the two countries. The first line of Poland’s great epic poem “Pan Tadeusz” by Adam Mickiewicz, refers to Lithuania: “O Lithuania, my country, thou Art like good health; I never knew till now, How precious, till I lost thee”. In Polish: “Litwo! Ojczyzno moja! ty jesteś jak zdrowie; Ile cię trzeba cenić, ten tylko się dowie, Kto cię stracił.”
Driving to Vilnius is a little far, but for someone who grew up in Southern California, spending hours in the car isn’t a problem. With a lot of new scenery to discover, it’s even a pleasure. Lithuania is a country I never expected to visit. Actually, if you would have told me I would end up living in Warsaw I would have answered that that is highly unlikely, nearly impossible.
The journey to Lithuania, once a part of Poland, took me through Białystok and Augustów. Białystok will have to wait for another trip, it was getting too late and I didn’t want it to get too late. By the time we got to Augustów, I needed a break from driving (nearly the entire road from Warsaw is two-lane highway and there’s a lot of wild passing!) Actually, I kind of like driving in Poland. There’s nothing boring about it at all, and if you’re alert and careful it's no more dangerous than a lot of other places I’ve driven. The only problem I have with Polish roads is that they aren’t always too well marked and it’s easy to get off track.
Anyway... Augustów is definitely worth seeing. I'll get to that in the next entry.