Archive for the 'Lithuania' Category

Road Trip: Riga and Kaunas

May 8, 2015

Hi Family and Friends,

Happy Friday! Today I drove from Klaipeda to Riga (Latvia), then to Kaunas (2nd largest city in Lithuania), and then back to Klaipeda. It was a very full day. I was on the road from 9 am – 10:15 pm and and drove around 500 mi. (800 km) in a big triangular loop. WP_20150508_11_09_27_ProI used one and a half tanks of gas. I managed to arrive back at the hotel just as it was becoming super dark. This was good because I prefer not to drive on unfamiliar roads in the dark. Fortunately It gets dark very late here. It was an ambitious day and while I would have liked to spend more time in Riga and in Kaunas, I’m happy I made it all around.

The first leg of the trip was the longest, it took almost four hours to get to Riga. There was a lot of construction on the road around the Latvian border that took a while to get through. WP_20150508_12_41_38_ProThe drive, not just on this leg but on the next one too, had long stretches of road with only two lanes, one lane for each way, and a lot of trucks. There was a lot of truck dodging and passing. There was also a lot of traffic on the road leading into Riga. But when I finally got to the city, I got an amazing parking space in the old city and walked around and then ate local fish. WP_20150508_13_55_54_ProIt was very pleasant! At 2 pm sharp, it was time to head to Vilnius, another three ish drive.

But by the time I got back into Lithuania, I realized that Vilnius might be a little far, especially after hitting more construction and delays, so I decided to revise my plan and instead headed to Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania. Vilnius is three hours away from Klaipeda, while Kaunas is only two hours away. WP_20150508_17_55_15_ProI figured, correctly, that I wouldn’t want to drive another three hours in the evening. I arrived in Kaunas at 5:30 pm, and had a coffee near my parking space. You don’t need to pay for parking after 6 pm in Kaunas, so I decided to risk not paying. I didn’t get any ticket!

Kaunas doesn’t get too many foreign tourists so the women in the coffee shop were interested in what I was doing there. WP_20150508_18_59_59_ProI was told to walk down to the old city and that’s where I could get the best drink and snacks and view. I was told it would take 20 minutes. I’ve heard this before in Lithuania a few times. It’s funny, when you talk to a Lithuanian person, and they tell you “it will take 20 minutes” it really takes 10 minutes, maybe 15. This was true today also. It’s the opposite of what happens with one of my friends who tells me all the time “oh it will take me just 20 minutes to get there” but I know I shouldn’t expect him until at least 45.

WP_20150508_19_44_57_ProIn Old Town Kaunas I enjoyed two (not very strong, and also small, but still delicious) beers, some snacks (dinner), and sat in the sun and enjoyed the late afternoon. I really liked Kaunas.

Then I walked around the regular city center and down few other streets, and then back to my car and drove back to Klaipeda, where I am now. I left for Klaipeda at 8:15 pm, and arrived at 10:15.

Have a nice weekend! Love, Annie

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Working in Lithuania

May 7, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. Not too much to report for today – it was just a working day. Breakfast is included at the hotel so I had a nice breakfast and read the news. Then I went to two meetings. WP_20150507_12_13_53_ProBetween the meetings I had time to visit a cool store with cork shoes and bags from Portugal. I didn’t buy anything but chatted with the store owner for a while. The store owner is a lady from Klaipeda who had spent some time in Portugal. Now she sells products from Portugal in a store in Lithuania. I don’t know Lithuanian and she didn’t know much English, but we were able to communicate a little in Portuguese!

The second meeting went better than the first. In the first, they didn’t want to talk to me. In the second, I met with a young guy who provided good information and then we chatted about kite-surfing. WP_20150507_15_13_57_ProThere is an amazing spot for kite surfing not far from Klaipeda, near Nida and the Russian border. It’s going to become a big deal in the next 10 years. After those meetings I got my hair washed and dried at a salon. It was a nice luxury and was very inexpensive at less than half of the price for the same service in the United States.

I had lunch and then got stood up for my third meeting. WP_20150507_20_32_00_ProI had a laugh with the receptionist at the hotel where my meeting was supposed to be, and then she helped me figure out alternative businesses to meet with. I ended up having a productive afternoon. Then I went to the new mall to check it out and got gelato, and went back to my hotel to relax. For dinner I ate at a cool restaurant called Momo Grill. I had delicious steak and wine.

Now I am back at the hotel and intend to watch Parks and Rec. I’m planning to wake up early for a fun road trip to Latvia tomorrow.

Love, Annie

Sveiki Klaipėda!

May 6, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope all is well. Today was a great full day. I took the metro to the Copenhagen airport in this morning. It was so easy and cost only 36 DKK, which is around 6 dollars. WP_20150506_16_35_37_ProI just walked from the hotel to metro, got on, and in 20 minutes I was checked in. I got a nice pat down at airport security. I was at the airport early, so I had a coffee and then a green juice and sandwich at Joe and the Juice (a Danish chain I’ve come to enjoy) and walked around the airport.

I got some Lakrids (liqorice) as gifts to give during my meetings in Lithuania.WP_20150506_16_42_21_Pro Danish people (Scandinavian people in general, I think) really seem to like licorice. There are designer licorice companies that sell licorice and other things with chocolate around them alllll over Copenhagen (and Reykjavik too). They also have salted licorice. WP_20150506_16_58_43_ProThe chocolate ones are pretty good. The salted must be an acquired taste.

I was one of 5 women on the flight to Lithuania, which was pretty interesting. At the rental car desk at Palanga aiport, I got an upgrade so I’ll be cruising around in a sweet Jetta.WP_20150506_17_26_49_Pro The guy at the rental desk had a really great pen – it was one of those cheap cvs-type ones, but really good. He said he didn’t know where you could buy it, he got it from his friend. WP_20150506_15_28_55_ProJust as I finished gushing about how awesome I thought it was for 5 minutes, I clicked it the wrong way and the top flew off and the spring flew across the room. Noooo. We had quite a laugh about it, but I felt so badly.

WP_20150506_16_35_05_ProWith GPS, the drive to the hotel was easy and took about half an hour. The radio stations were totally on point! They had some nice vocal trance. I felt like I was back in high school driving around to vocal trance. The hotel is pretty good and my room is larger than both of the other hotel rooms I’ve had so far put together, x2. WP_20150506_18_48_06_ProThis says less about the hotel room here, and more about the tiny closet rooms in Reykjavik and Copenhagen. It’s nice to have some space to dance around. There’s also a nespresso machine.

WP_20150506_18_39_03_ProI settled in and set up the meetings for tomorrow and then set out on a walk around Klaipeda. The city is really awesome. By the time I got to the old city area it was 5ish so I drank some Lithuanian beer(s) and ate a beer snacks assortment. I liked the cheese, enjoy like the smoked pigs ears. WP_20150506_18_52_25_ProWP_20150506_19_08_30_ProAfter that I walked around more and every street was cuter than the last one.

My first impression of the city is extremely good. It’s a small port city, and a few times a month cruise ships stop there. There is a cruise ship here now but still I did not notice big crowds. I found a great park and saw an adorable puppy that was too frightened to come over to me, and found a bar on a boat and had a beer on the boat while people rowed by. WP_20150506_19_34_52_ProI told one of my colleagues that it was like the Santa Cruz do Sul (little town in southern Brazil) of Eastern Europe. Then I got some waters at a supermarket and walked back to the hotel.

It didn’t get dark until about 10:30! Tomorrow I’ll get up early to get to my meetings.

Love, Annie