Siauliai And The Hill Of Crosses

Trip Start Oct 30, 2005
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Trip End Ongoing


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Saturday, July 15, 2006

This time, we decided to break our journey on the way to our destination for the night. We caught an early bus to Siauliai - a town famous for its nearby Hill of Crosses. Our guidebook described Siauliai as the fourth largest city in Lithuania - which we were surprised at - it felt like a small country town!

We wanted to put our luggage into storage at the bus station, but first needed some local currency. Glenn set off (after basic directions) to find an ATM, although it proved more difficult than he first imagined. Passing a basic currency exchange place, it just didn't look convincing that it would accept foreign cards, so on he continued. Failing to find the one explained to him, Glenn kept walking and after seeing a sign for tourist information, he was off on a wild goose chase to find it. However, the signs were very misleading and some 20 mins further walking and several times asking, he eventually found it! He found out about transport to the Hill of Crosses (bus, taxi) and of course where an ATM was, and so now, armed with cash, ran back to Christie, still guarding the luggage, wondering where Glenn had got to.

We put our luggage into storage, and checked with the buses - the next one was in 2 hours, so we decided to catch a taxi to the Hill of Crosses. We first booked our onward tickets to Klaipeda, our destination for the night. Glenn negotiated with the taxi and couldn't quite get him down to the fare suggested by the information centre, so instead agreed to an extra 10 mins of waiting time for the taxi, giving us around 3/4 hour to visit... which still proved a bit short.

Visiting the Hill of Crosses was a unique experience... The "hill" was a lot smaller than we had expected but every inch was packed with crosses - there must have been thousands of crosses - it was quite a sight. We are not sure on the full history here, but it was an early tradition to plant the crosses here and when the Soviets bulldozed them during their occupation, each night people would risk their lives to creep past soldiers and plant more. We spent some time wandering through them, some pieces of art, but all interesting in some way or another, but as always time is short.

We got the taxi back, and jumped off at the main street, where we had lunch and went back to the information centre to see if we could organise accommodation in Klaipeda for the night. We wanted to stay at the one hostel in town, but the lady at information tried the number and couldn't get through. She found alternate accommodation on the Curonian Spit (short ferry ride over, where we had hoped to go in the next few days) at a yacht club. It was quite cheap (we wondered why), but were happy to have something as the area apparently booked out quickly.

Siauliai was quite a pleasant town, but with not a lot to do, we made our way back to the bus station ... and soon onto a bus to Klaipeda.
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