17th June 2008
Lithuania 2: Skydiving In Vilnius
Current Mood: Jubilant
Fact for the day Del: Del has two life ambitions he wants to achieve. The first is to touch, or happy slap if I have a mobile phone handy ready to record it, a great white shark. Preferable without getting my arm ripped off. The second is to gain a skydiving licence - which brought me back to Lithuania. After landing at Kaunas airport I had much more important things to attend to than trying to find out how to get to the Kaunas city centre and then on my way to Vilnius. Diced chicken, sweet red paprika, fresh fried onions all cooked within Homepride curry sauce and wrapped in a cheese topped bread baton ensured my taste buds were in flavour heaven as I sat on a bench and watched a lone bus disappear into the distance. Sure, if I had known at the time it was the bus I was supposed to take into the city centre I may have made a bit more of an effort to board it instead of stuffing myself silly and waiting over an hour for the next one. So I grabbed the chance to catch up on some much needed sleep whilst waiting for my ride.
A couple of days before I left London I found myself at a squat rave that ended up being raided upon by the police. Why are they trying to stop things illegal? Anyroad my friend and I managed to escape the raid by hopping over fences, ducking down side streets and doing lots of other things that weren't really that difficult to perform but is dramatic sounding from the way I write. If the police ever find out that I escaped on a plane to Lithuania they'll think to themselves, 'Fuck me, it's a bit much for a lousy squat rave'. So here I was, an international fugitive in Eastern Europe and I was fucking tired from the previous many days lack of sleep. I managed to stay awake for the bus journey into Kaunas whereupon I met two nurses from London who explained they just returned a Lithuanian alcoholic to his friends cos he was drinking too much in England. I know what you're thinking here, cos I way ahead with the plans already. Drink loads and blag a free trip to India. I think I can get away with looking like an Indian. Carrying on, the bus ride to Vilnius was much more exhausting and I found myself at the front of the minibus doing a great impression of one of those dogs with the rocking heads. You know the ones - I had no control of my neck muscles and at one point I awoke to find the driver leaning away from me and avoiding the drool.
Out in Lithuania I was couchsurfing with a great chick called Aiste, who introduced me to her friend Linas. Upon hearing I was going to Kaliningrad Linas told me the story of when he went there with friends and his couchsurfing host came into the apartment and declared that he was ordering prostitutes. Apparently the women who arrived were real stunners too that left me hoping, or really I should say wondering, if I would be using by coincidence the very same couchsurfing host - a long shot considering I was staying with a female student, her mother and a cat. Linas also told me about the latest craze sweeping through the Ukraine - Wife Hunting! Seriously, apparently there's a load of old British men making their way over there and coming back a few weeks later with a gorgeous Ukrainian wife half their age who have managed to convince their new husband that they will stay with them forever and always, and shan't be doing a runner once they've received British citizenship after 2 years. I'll have to keep this in mind when I'm 70. I also met a group of Portuguese guys and I kid you not, one of them was a Prince - a real Prince. He is heir to some tiny little independence in Indonesia and, whilst he doesn't brag about it, his mates were more then willing to tell everyone they're hanging out with royalty. I also managed to lose my bloody bank card on the first day, which sucked. One the second day I was speaking a bit more of the Lithuanian lingo and on the third day I even managed to open a Lithuanian bank account. At this rate I reckon by next year I'll be running for Mayor. The there was the buzz of the European Championship. What with England not in the euros I decided to become an honorary German and at first it felt great to have that winning feeling after they beat Russia. Then they only go and get spanked by Croatia and suddenly I feel the urge to change alliances. Or worst still go back to supporting England.
Now those of you who read my last blog on Lithuania may remember that myself, Mands and an American called Tom attempted to catch a train and visit a place called Trakai. Instead of bothering to check which train we should get on we decided to board the first one that arrived and we ended up in a place called Voke, otherwise known as 'the arse end of nowhere'. We ended up walking for a couple of hours back along the track we had earlier ridden on to reach civilisation before waving a white flag and heading back to Vilnius. Well, I decided I owed it to us to visit this Trakai place and my first attempt ended in failure as by the time as sorted out all the bank account bullshit I had left things a little late to go on an excursion. A higher power, an unseen force was attempting to prevent me from seeing Trakai. But I have seen off Darth Vader and the dark side and I knew I had it in me to beat this challenge. So I went the next day. And what is there I hear you ask? Whilst it's not quite up there with Voke, Trakai has a sort of tranquil relaxing vibe about it, not to mention an old fort surrounded by a beautiful lake that made me wish I'd brought my Baywatch swimmers to go for a swim, although a Lithuanian pikey would have only stolen my wallet which was now stuffed full of cash. Legend has it, or this could be a figment of my imagination, that resting at the bottom of the lake are hundreds upon hundreds of skulls as a result of the many battles the history of the fort has seen. Could be true, could be a load of crap, either way there I was standing on the bridge looking at a family looking at the water, back to me looking at the water. I can't say for sure we we're seeing any skulls but I can probably say the locals were looking at me looking at the tourists looking at the water back to me who was now also looking at the water and thinking, 'Idiots'.
Boarding the bus to go back to Vilnius I had a woman who was stood in the aisle blocking my way cos she couldn't decide where to sit. Round and round she span until I thought she was going to drill a hole in the floor and fall out the bottom. You think I'm exaggerating but she was so ridiculous that I thought she was worth a mention here. Finally she was ready to stop playing musical chairs with herself and I got to sit down only to be followed by genuine Trakai drunkard. There were quite a lot of drunks staggering around Trakai as it happens, a bit like Harrow Town centre only it was daytime, and here I had this guy slowly shuffling his way towards me with a cardboard sign hanging around his neck that looked like it was made by his 5 year old Grandson. He was mumbling something to musical chair woman and other passengers before he finally reached my seat. Again he mumbled something in the Lithuania lingo and held out his hand which contained some loose change. I said, 'ta' very much, don't mind if I do' and promptly took the coins from his hand and put it in my pocket with the rest of my change. He was mumbling a lot louder after that.
Cracking on with the skydiving lark now. Slowly rising to 3000 metres on a rust bucket of a plane I had little doubt I'd soon be leaving the plane, either via the exit door or through the bottom as I reckon the plane was any moment about to fall apart. Eventually after about 30 minutes we rose to a height of 3km, probably not the best time to tell my skydive trainer Linas I needed to go for a pee. Nope, no time for that ��" we were ready to jump. The first jump was a tandem whereupon I was hanging from Linas in what looked like an oversized baby suit new mothers wear, and I could not wait to leave the plane. In fact I thought Linas was taking a bit much unnecessary time with the whole thing and was going to pull out my smuggled aboard Rambo knife, cut myself free and jump out myself. But that would have ended in disaster. And so the tandem will do for now instead and… well yeah, it was okay. The second jump on the other hand was much more better. I jumped out on my own with Linas and another trainer, Justace, by my side holding onto me as I elegantly fell towards the earth imitating a tortoise turned onto its back. Great impression of the tortoise, not a great impression of a skydive. But I'm here to learn am I not? And after a few more jumps I was looking great, even though I swear I was kicking Justace in the head every time I exited the plane. One of the jumps took me into a white fluffy cloud which was amazing. It was like falling through cocaine, which was probably why Linas questioned if I was hyperventilating during that particular jump. The final jump of the two weekends was the greatest of all, which not only was me achieve level 5 status but also allowed me to jump out on my own without any interference from Linas. That leaves me with only 2 levels to pass, level 6 consisting of me performing a load of somersaults and flips - something I'm pretty sure I done during the second jump, although this time it has be voluntarily done... A lot of people are asking me 'What was it like Del?' and I've discovered a way to not only tell, but show them exactly what it was like. So exact that you can save yourself a lot of cash by not bothering to pay for skydiving and take a 'Del Patent Pending Skydive' instead. It goes like this if you want to try it out. Stand in front of a powerful office fan with its setting taken off rotate - this is absolutely imperative. Hold your hand in the air, I personally recommend your left hand, and use your other hand to grab hold the fleshy part of your cheek. Begin rapidly pulling away at your cheek creating a slapping sound with bits of saliva flicking out at nearby people and hey presto! You're skydiving. That'll be £50 please.