Day 27 – Druskinikai
It was then time to leave the family to enjoy the rest of their holiday by the beach. We headed off towards Druskinikai, one of the smaller towns in Lithuania which is known as a rehabilitation town for anyone recovering from anything. It’s basically filled with expensive spas, long walks and fancy restuarants. We had come here specifically to visit the Soviet Statue park. That and it was a nice part way stop between Juodkrante in the far West of Lithuania and Warsaw. One of the highlights of our journey was being stopped by a casual herd of cows crossing the road!
As we arrived within good time, we headed into the park that evening as it didn’t close until 10pm. The park was created by a man by the name of Viliumas Malinauskas who has collected together lots of communist statues that were in cities throughout Lithuania and put them in a beautiful picturesque park right near the border with Belarus and Poland. It has the correct amount of eerieness with music playing through the woods, the powerful figures of Soviet time offset by the tall trees and wildlife noises. There are whole sections of Lenin, Stalin and Marx, ranging from heads to 20ft statues. Some of them were accompanied by stands picturing where they were originally sited as well as descriptions as to who the person was. It was quite fascinating to see the continual attempt to exercise power over the people of Lithuania with something so simple as a statue. At the entrance they even have an old train that was used for deportation from Lithuania to Siberia for forced slave-work, reducing the population of the entire country by a third.
What we hadn’t quite realised was that it wasn’t just a park, it was also part zoo… Now neither of us particularly like zoos all that much because we both like wildlife in the wild. The sight of alpacas, emus, deer and the rows of chickens we could deal with, but then we walked around the corner and were greeted by a huge male bear! Now I’m sure that his enclosure was smaller than that of the two swans we’d just passed, but it wasn’t just that that concerned us, it was the fact that the cage was about 3m tall. If he wanted to badly enough, I’m pretty sure he would have been out of there. As it so happens the chicken that he was eating in one was keeping him content for the time being.
Just around the corner from him was a mummy bear with three tiny little babies all curled up together in a ball. Again, we weren’t too sure about the size of their fencing, but just went about our looking at statues in the hope that she’d probably catch a child in the play park just next door to her enclosure before she’d catch us.
There was also a hilarious peacock who was strutting about desperate to catch the attention of the female in his cage! He was shaking his bum up to her then turning around suddenly and shaking his feathers. She was pretty fed up of it all and just wanted to get out of the cage!
There was also a cage full of bunnies which made us really sad, despite that fact that the babies were too cute! We discussed stealing them all and running away with them, but didn’t think they’d like to live in the van with us.
After walking around the park we decided to go back to see if the baby bears were doing anything more interesting than sleeping. They were… but so was the Puma that we had failed to notice next door in an enclosure that was even shorter than the bears, so we high tailed it out of there!
We spent the night just outside the park in the car park watching out over the lake.
Day 28 – Warsaw
Not all that much to report. We drove the rest of the way to Warsaw and parked up in another car park! Hey… They’re cheap and we’re on a serious budget.
After managing to find out how to get into town, we jumped on a bus to go and find the tourist office and most importantly, a map! The new centre of Warsaw is very modern, with lots of tall office type glass buildings and a shopping centre that looks like a giant bubble wave engulfing the buildings around it. We’re both excited to get going tomorrow.