It was going to be a long day finding Dels dead hampsters grave...
12th July 2007
Sigulda and Vilnius, Lithuania (euro trip part 4)
Current mood: Devious
Category: Travel and Places
Arriving in Siauliai I was immediately shocked as I was expecting a small town with one pub where the locals, who are all interbred of course, stare at you for being a stranger.
A bit like a Welsh village to be honest. But the place was quite big for a small place, if you know what I mean cos I certainly don't, and it's known as the City Of Sun which is a bit of a joke cos it was as sunny as a typical summer's day in Britain – pissing down with rain in other words. By the time we reached out hostel we were well on our way to getting soaked and to make matters worse the staff didn't speak a word of English. Ay up I thought, I could have a little fun here, and turned to Mands and declared out load I was going to go to my room and have a wank before taking a shit on the bed and sitting on it. None of the staff had a scoobies what I was talking about but just stood there smiling and nodding like a couple of lemons, bless em...
Publisists had created a rival to Where's Wally?
So then what did Siauliai have to offer I was thinking.
I left Mands in the room to sleep off a mad hangover whilst I had a butchers at the town and fuck me, I've only stumbled across another big festival haven't I. This one was the International Folk Dancing Contest where loads of people were yipping and yahooing like a cowboy getting his nuts gored by a bull – or a British fella at Pompey's running of the bulls in Spain, take your pick. Mands would be kicking herself for missing this one I reckoned and I took the opportunity to bust out a few disco Stu moves to some really crap music.
The Hill Of Crosses. No prizes for guessing why it's called that.
The next morning our agenda for the day was to visit the Hill Of Crosses and who knows, if no one was looking maybe kick over a few headstones. The place was a little way a way which really only meant one thing; the Tour De Eastern Europe had reached Stage 3 and we were riding 25km of cheap bicycles that tore my arsehole to pieces. Mand’s bike had no front break and the pedal fell off whilst I had a girl's bike that was pink and black, which I wouldn't have minded but it clashed with the shirt I was wearing that day.
We finally managed to get our sore arses to the Hill Of Crosses which on appearance is best described as, er, a big hill with lots of crosses on it.
And I mean lots of crosses, like over 100,000 planted on top of it. Put it this way, if Count Dracula was to ever turn up on a tour bus the guy would be fucked. The whole hill thing apparently began with some father planting a cross on the hill in memory of his daughter who died of plague one fine day. And the crosses grew from there with the local people having nothing better to do that stick pieces of wood into the ground. Obviously Cable TV wasn't available in their region back in their days. Anyroad, the whole crosses thing has given me inspiration to try the same thing on Henman's Hill and fuck up the spectators view for next years Wimbledon Tennis Tournament if any of you guys want to give me a hand. Soon later we were heading out of town for the 'big' city and whilst passing the bus station we saw yet another person who had collapsed with a hysteric wife crying over him. It immediately occurred to me with Amsterdam's train station, Stanstead's airport and now Siauliai’s bus station I had scored the collapsed person treble.
prison cells - Good news: Free accomodation. Bad news: Basic accomodation
Surely that deserves some sort of recognition eh? I wonder if any of them lived…
Del suspected Show Express had taken his shoe size incorrectly...
What I had discovered about the Baltic's was that everything was dead cheap, and on the train heading towards Vilnius I couldn't help wondering how much it would cost to buy a small boy, ha ha.
Of all the Baltic cities this one had my vote. It was the biggest city for a start, which wasn't too difficult when you consider the size of the other two – about the size of my bathroom now I think back on it. Anyroad there was lots of thing we had on the agenda here but fate, God, or sheer laziness got in the way of some of our itinerary.
For example, I read of another bungee jump here, this one was from a TV tower, and was well looking forward to it but only arrived in Vilnius to find out it was no longer open due to the whole thing collapsing. Blimey, I only wanted to go and add to my scar collection I started in Sigulda, not bloody kill myself. Anyroad, I can only imagine there's some poor bugger in a grave somewhere who puts my scar to shame. Then there was the skydive. I'd been looking forward all year for this so you can imagine my disappointment when we turned up at the station bright and early at 9am only to find out our train doesn't leave until 4pm later that day – a little late to get there for 10am me thinks, not to mention ruining my plan to ask the pilot to throw us out over Poland and save some train fares.
Hotal Molesta - no children over 14 allowed
But for the plans that did fall through it meant it left us with more time to get on with things we didn't have planed, for example visiting the Tibetan Tea house, which was run by a Lithuanian by the way.
I'd never seen one nor been to one so I was a little excited to the point of having a semi erection, although from what I'd ever seen of it I thought it was very unnecessarily time consuming. I mean what's wrong with a boiled kettle and a bag of PG Tips? Anyroad, our Lithuanian tea lady produces a bowl of tea leaves and starts banging on about how great the aroma is and all that unnecessary bollocks I mentioned earlier, then she only goes and sticks her nose in the bowl and begins snorting like Pete Doherty on her first night out of rehab. ‘Oi!’ I thought, ‘we're paying for that’. But it wasn't long before we were passing around a pot and filling up our cups that were no bigger than a sperm cup, which meant we must have had about 50 cups of tea each. It was an experience, I'll give it that, but an experience I have no interest in doing again – unless it was in the mountains of Tibet with those real Kung Foo monks who can snap my spine with their pinkie finger, that would be cool.
Memorial and entrance to former Nazi death camp
Another thing we did was visit a museum that was once a former KGB prison during the world war, KGB museum Of Genocide it was called.
It was quite horrific strolling through the building as it detailed the deaths of 100,000 prisoners and the awful conditions these people had to endure whilst holed up in the labour camps. Then out of nowhere I come across documents showing how they organised football squads, basketball teams and not to forget a bit of ice hockey during the winter. In a blink of an eye I had gone from being all tearful to searching for a member of staff to find out how I sign up for one of these camps. As one can imagine the insight was shocking what with cramped cells, torture chambers and as for the prison gym, well don't get me started – no treadmill, ab cruncher or Swiss ball in sight. How was anyone expected to keep an eye on their figure without the basic apparatus?
A burial pit at a Nazi death camp
At night time a group of us went to another sky bar like the one in Riga, only this one was 22 floors up. Again I was to feel really sophisticated sitting in a lounge with a cocktail, this time I ordered the pink balloon, before leaving to spend 2 hours looking for a club that didn't exist and another that wasn't open.
Don't you love it when nights go to plan?
A view from Voke...
After swallowing down breakfast the next morning Mands and I along with our American friend John, who we were at the tea house with the previous day, boarded a train and headed to Paneriai to visit the site of a Nazi death camp and burial site of 100,000 Jews. We packed our water, ham sandwiches and a shovel to dig myself up a souvenir skull. The place was completely deserted except for another American couple who pretty much got as far as the entrance before the lady had to turn back because of overwhelming emotions. I somehow reckoned it wouldn't be anytime soon she'd be heading to Auswitch, Poland. After a little bit of death in the morning there's nothing like chilling out at a castle surrounded by a lake. Absolutely beautiful it looked. I say looked because the closest we got to seeing it was in a magazine because when we got back to the train station we inevitable got on the wrong train. Typical really, we got on the first train that came along not really with any idea where it was heading to. So it was to be that we ended up being dumped in a place called Voke, so deserted that even the Russians had abandoned the place. And from there we waited for our train back… and waited… and waited until a light bulb moment occurred to me – check the timetable. We'd been waiting one hour, which left only another 5 hours waiting until the next train was to arrive. And there's us wondering why the platform was empty. Ever seen the brilliant film Stand By Me? Well we ended up doing a stand by me and just like the film, except there was three of us instead of four and one of us was a hot chick, walked along the train tracks for a hour back to the next station at which point we must have looked the most unusual train the locals waiting at the platform had ever seen. Getting back to the hostel was a tad stressful and all as we had forgotten to book another night in the dorms and feared the owners had thrown out our bags and we walking around wearing all our clothes.
The next day included visiting Uzupis, a small little republic run by some whacky artist within the boundary of Vilnius, eating some traditional potatoes wrapped in animal guts, eating a traditional Chinese, which was run by a Lithuanian by the way, before catching a night bus heading towards a city that supposedly had a bit of war history to it – Warsaw.