Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Malta is waiting :)

By the end of this week, I and my friends will be in Malta. I'm really looking forward to this holiday trip, because the summer was cool and rainy here, and I'd be so glad to go to some warm places where I can take sun, swim in the sea and enjoy the free days!
Even when Malta is as small as my home island Muhu, it will be such a different experience... Malta has a long history, loads of historical sights, and a beautiful seaside. Right now, I know it only from pictures, but soon, it all will be a reality :).

It will be a special trip also because I'll meet my Maltese penpal Pauline for the first time. We have been good penpals for years and both are very excited to see each other.

So, Malta, here we come!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lithuania - Lietuva

In August, I had another trip to Lithuania - almost our neighbour (Latvia is between), and one of the three Baltic States. This time, I spent five days in 4 different places in Lithuania - in the capital, Vilnius; and in the western part of Lithuania - in Klaipeda, summer resort Palanga and the lovely Curonian Spit.

Even when Lithuania is somewhat neighbour for us, we do not share similar history (apart from the near-history during Soviet times) nor are our languages related. During the 14th century, Lithuania was the largest country in Europe: present-day Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Russia were territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. With the Lublin Union of 1569 Poland and Lithuania formed a new state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Estonia has never played as important role in Europe as Lithuania did. It's always nice to return to a country which is full of interesting history such as Lithuania.


Vilnius with its 540 000 inhabitants is a charming small European capital. The Old Town of Vilnius was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994 just because the town "has preserved an impressive complex of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and classical buildings as well as its medieval layout and natural setting"

Photo: Vilnius Cathedral - the main Roman Catholic church in Vilnius. Its belltower is 57 meter high and is built on the remains of the defensive tower of the Lower Castle.

Photo: My favourite place in the old town of Vilnius - a nice tea shop :)

Photo: Gediminas Tower is the only remaining functional part of the Upper Castle of Vilnius (First the castle was built of brick in 1409). It was my first time to go up there and enjoy the view over Vilnius - the photos you can see next.

Photo: A view over Vilnius from Gediminas Tower.

Photo: A view over Vilnius Old Town from Gediminas Tower.

Photo: Nice houses in the main street of Vilnius Old Town.

Photo: The Town Hall of Vilnius, Nowadays it is used for representational purposes as well as during the visits of foreign state officials and rulers, including George Bush and Queen Elisabeth II.
Photo: A narrow street in Vilnius Old Town.

Photo: Some charming views to old town narrow streets and courtyards.

Photo: Vilnius University - founded back in 1579. The photo is taken in front of the door of Vilnius University Library (founded in 1570) in Old Town.
Photo: The Church of St Anne - the most impressive building in Vilnius

Photo: Vilnius has hundreds of churches. It makes the city different than for instance Tallinn. And for Lithuanians, religion is much more important than for us.

Photo: Some more churches

Klaipeda is well-known as the only Lithuania's seaport (having connections to Sweden, Denmark, Germany) and populates about 185 000 inhabitants. It is situated in the very west of Lithuania, at the mouth of Curonian Lagoon where it flows into the Baltic Sea. The town Klaipeda Memel was found in 1252.

Klaipeda has a different old town than other Lithuanian towns because its architectural style is similar to many western European cities, especially German Hansa towns since it has many houses with fachwerk style. Photo: The symbol of the city - the sailing vessel "Meridians". Nowadays, it's a restaurant.

Photo: Nice old houses in Klaipeda.

Photo: I in the centre of Klaipeda.

Photo: A mouse statue in Klaipeda; somewhere should be similar cat statue. I wasn't able to find it, though I could photograph the mouse statue with a real black cat in back..

Photo: A dog statue is represented in Klaipeda as well.

Photo: And a spider...

The Curonian Spit

The Curonian Spit is a narrow sand peninsula of 98 km of length. Half of it belongs to Russia, half (54 km's) to Lithuania. It's called a pearl of the Baltics - the most typical element of the spit's nature is the sand dune. There are about 2 km3 of sand totally in the spit. It has many small idyllic villages, and tens of kilometres of friendly bicycle roads. In the start of the Spit, there's a Lithuanian Sea Museum.

I was able to rent a bicycle and cycle through some nice dunes as well as visit a lovely old fishing village (now a summer resort) called Juodkrante.

Photo: The lovely sand dunes in the Curonian Spit.

Photo: there are many nice beaches in the Curonian Spit.
Sea Museum
Photo: The Sea Museum in the start of the Spit. It was bigger than the Finnish Sea Museum having many different exhibitions, a dolphin show and a sea lion show.

Photo: I in the Sea Museum.

Photo: The Dolphin Show.

Photo: There was a sailing vessels exhibition next to the Sea Museum.

Photos: The port of Klaipeda... Full of tankers (photographed from the Spit).

Juodkrante means Black Shore in English. It's an old fishing village, nowadays a quiet Lithuanian seaside resort village, where you can still buy smoked fish (and loads of it) in every corner. I bicycled there and then, just enjoyed the smell of the sea, sound of the waves and nice, quiet sunny day!
Photo: Some restaurant in lovely houses in Juodkrante.

Photo: A sailing-ship, nowadays a restaurant, in Juodkrante.
Photo: I in Juodkrante.
Photo: Fishing nets in Juodkrante.

Palanga is a very busy summer resort - probably the place where every Lithuanian goes to have a week of relaxing sandy-beach-holiday! It was too crowded for me..
Photo: Palanga beach in the afternoon.