Arrival in Lithuania

Trip Start Jul 07, 2007
Trip End Sep 22, 2007

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Driving across our first land border of the holiday proved easy enough. Immediately, we noticed that the countryside seemed more open. The roads were good quality (see Poland later!), straight, wide enough for overtaking and surrounding by lots of open countryside providing a wonderful feeling of space.

Siauliai, the 4th largest city in Lithuania, was the first major place where we could stop. We decided to spend a couple of days there on the basis of a couple of entries in the Rough Guide that suggested it might be an interesting spot with lots of small and unusual museums (including amongst many others a bike museum, photography museum and a museum of cats). There was also the "Hill of Crosses" to visit just north of Siauliai. We stopped at the hill on the way into town to discover that it matched its description very well as it was covered in hundreds of thousands, if not over a million, crosses. The tradition started in pre-Christian times and although the Soviets had the hill bulldozed repeatedly it was always replanted with fresh crosses. After a papal visit a few years back the number of Catholic pilgrims has increased significantly leading to the crosses sprawling left and right away from the main hill.

Unfortunately our stop off at the hill meant that we reached Siauliai fairly late and were unable to find details of any campsites, so we opted for a little hotel instead. Next morning we got off to a reasonably early start, hoping to visit as many museums as we could only to discover that the bike museum and pretty much everything else was closed because it was Assumption day. We met a couple of fellow travellers, who had cycled from Tallinn. They refused to allow the closure of the bike museum to put a dampener on the day and encouraged us all to climb onto the ancient bike outside the museum for photos leading to much hilarity. At times a ladder would have been very useful:-)

Afterwards, we settled for walking around the lakes, finding a few of the "sun" sculptures and going to the cathedral, where we heard some excellent organ music.
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