I’m going to mash all of the next few days into one. Our next stop was Juodkrante, where we basically gatecrashed Adas’s family holiday! Even Pasca the tortoise had come with us. Tatjana had rented an appartment on the little island just off the coast of Lithuania where we were then going to spend the next few days. On our way there we firstly stopped at a monestry just outside Vilnuis. It was a beautiful monestry which had lived through both World Wars, despite being partly destroyed, looted, turned into a hospital and just about everything else in between. In is now a convent which is home to 12 nuns. There was part of the original crypt that you could also go down into which was very spooky in itself.
We wandered down through the beautiful grounds of the church to the little lake where we could hear the weirdest noise. We walked around the lake trying to find out what it was making the noise before spotting a little cluster of frogs in the lake. None of us had ever heard anything like it!
Our second stop on the route was a little restuarant along the route where we challenged ourselves to eat more traditional Lithuania food. I chose some little pork dumplings called koldunai, which are a bit like ravioli, Adas ordered cepelinai, which is a large dumpling with pork inside and covered with mash potatoe and then fried, Jack had schnitzel, which although it isn’t Lithuanian, was definitely something we don’t eat so we allowed it.
It was then time to keep moving towards the coast. A quick food shop and a small ferry later we arrived in Juodkrante and were greeted by some sun and a beautiful beach. Before dinner, all 5 of us went for a stroll along the beach in search of some amber. Apparently Lithuanian’s coast is one of the best places you can find natural amber just lying on the shore.
Dinner turned into a bit of a competition between Tatjana and Victoria (Adas’s sister). We were having varskeciai which are kind of like small thick pancakes with this favourite Lithuanian cheese they put in everything. Both Victoria and Tatjana like theirs slightly different, so made two batches and made us all choose which one we liked best. I also decided to increase the competition further by getting my mums raspberry jam out of the fridge in the van to have alongside Tatjana’s blackberry jam.
The next two days we spent on the beach, eating, sleeping and generally not doing very much. Between us there were burnt feet, bums and shoulders.
We were treated to another Lithuanian soup/stew called barsciai, also made with beetroot, carrot, potatoe, cabbage and onions. We’ve decided that Lithuanian’s can only eat soup if it’s pink!
On our last day we took a trip to Nida to hike up another hill to see the parnidzio kopa, which is a giant sundial. This is one of the furthest points of the island and from this top point you can see the border with Russia. In the sea there was a boat sat on either side of this border acting as the border control.
That evening we ate out in the family’s favourite fish restuarant, before finding more traitional festivities for Jonines. This celebrates the longest day, where people dress up in traditional wear and sing, alongside making headresses of flowers for all the girls. These are then put into the sea to float away in the hope of finding a man. It also celebrates the name day of anyone called the equivalent of John. The oldest John in the town then handed out a shot of his home made brandy to anyone brave enough to try it while wearing a reef of oak leaves. Every name in Lithuania has its own name day, but none are quite celebrated in the same fashion.
Our last evening was spent avoiding the rain and playing board games which had been packed especially for the rain that was forecast for the entire time we were in Juodkrante.
The end of this blog has to be an incredibly large thank you to Adas and his entire family who have been amazing to us over the last week. We really appreciate you not only driving us round and showing us everything we needed to see in Vilnuis, but then to extend our stay by letting us gatecrash your family holiday. I don’t think we could have had a better time in Lithuania.