20 June 2024

Latvia Lithuania Trip

  1. Time to explore the next Baltic country Jun 12, 2024

    Last year was Lithuania. This year, it will be Latvia.

    Meanwhile, this will be my 39th different airline I will be riding!

  2. Off to Kaunas Jun 12, 2024

    Landed in Vilnius and headed straight to Kaunas. Good old Gintautas (remember him?) was there to pick me up and take me there.

    This is how the sky looked as we went down Highway A1.

  3. That was funny! Jun 13, 2024

  4. Streets lined up with hundred year old buildings in Kaunas Jun 13, 2024

  5. Finally had a bowl of Šaltibarščiai (Pink Soup) Jun 13, 2024

    During my last trip to Lithuania, I had heard about this very local soup. Made of beetroot, dill, eggs, yogurt, lemon etc, it is served cold. I had tried every possible restaurant that trip but nobody had this soup. (It is a summer soup and I had come in November).

    This time, I got the soup at the first restaurant I had a meal!! Reminded me of Indian raita a lot!

  6. Is this flyfishing? Jun 13, 2024

    Not sure what that figure of a guy in a boat with a fishing rod was doing up in the air there!

  7. Tried something new!! Jun 13, 2024

  8. What would be your guess? Jun 13, 2024

    I had finished my dinner in a restaurant in Kaunas and on my way out, went to the restroom. And then waited there helplessly trying to figure out which door was for men. All that was there were these two symbols on the two doors.

    Finally, a lady came in and went into one of them. I went into the other.

    Can you guess which one is for men and which one is for women?

    Have you seen this anywhere before?

  9. This time, it was less of a surprise! Jun 14, 2024

    Do you remember the crazy story from last November how I had showed up in my penpal’s house in Lithuania and completely surprised her? Well, this time, I had written to her beforehand about my plans in Lithuania. Rita’s family was kind enough to drive to Kaunas and join me for lunch. My friends in office were incredulous when I had told them the story. Two of my colleagues – Renata and Rasa joined us too to meet Rita’s family!

  10. 5K run by River Nemunas today Jun 14, 2024

  11. That was a bit dis”concerting” Jun 14, 2024

    The sign says something about a concert. The gate has a padlock on it. And yet, out there in the open – completely exposed to the weather – is a piano!

    There was nobody around for me to ask about it on that street in Kaunas.

  12. Church of St. Michael, the Archangel Jun 14, 2024

    This is in Kaunas

  13. No points for guessing that I am in an European city! Jun 14, 2024

  14. Off to Latvia we go! Jun 15, 2024

    We started our ride from Lithuania to Latvia. Our route will basically cut across Lithuania from south to north till we enter Latvia and finish up in the capital city of Riga.

    But on the way, Gintautas has planned for a few stops on either side of the border.

  15. Detour to Birzai Jun 15, 2024

    On our way to Riga, we got off the highway and headed towards Birzai. We wanted to check out the tranquil waters of Lake Širvėna. This is the oldest manmade lake in Lithuania – built a whole four and half centuries back by putting a dam on not one but two rivers!!

  16. The long wooden bridge over Lake Širvėna Jun 15, 2024

    It is over half a kilometer long and was built more than a century back. The walk on it over the lake was one of the most peaceful experiences one can have with nothing but the sound of birds all around!

  17. View from the other side of the lake Jun 15, 2024

  18. Spent another hour in the lake Jun 15, 2024

    We were wondering if we could find someway to get into the lake. There were a couple of boats but they seemed to be private ones. Made some enquiries and found out a guy who rents out paddle boats. That was good enough for us. Some more quiet time on the lake.

  19. Kirkilai Observation Tower Jun 15, 2024

    Next, we drove to Kirkilai Observation Tower. It may not be apparent from the picture due to the distance, but that structure is over 32m in height. If you strain your eyes hard, you can see the small silhouettes of people on top of it. That is our target.

  20. View from the top of the tower Jun 15, 2024

    All these lakes (Karst lakes) are actually sinkholes. There are about 200 of them in this area.

  21. Hotel for insects? Jun 15, 2024

    I believe that is the translation of what it says here. Basically, it is a 8 feet half-boat structure filled with stuff to attract insects!

  22. We finally entered Latvia Jun 15, 2024

    Right behind a good old Lada car (a relic from Soviet days). This is the first time, as I can recollect that I have entered a new country by road. Twice I have done by rail (Denmark to Sweden and Germany to Austria) but the rest of them were all by flights.

  23. The Bauska Castle Jun 15, 2024

  24. Some of the views from Old Town Riga Jun 15, 2024

    Regrettably, I have never grown a curiosity nor an appreciation for architecture or long dead people. Most of Europe cities’ charm to other tourists is lost on me. On the other hand, I love the natural beauties that Europe has to offer and of course, the Europeans, in general.

    That said, here are some shots from my walk in Old Town Riga.

  25. Fireworks in Riga to cap off a long day Jun 15, 2024

  26. I assume that is a German one meaning “My Ship”? Jun 16, 2024

    Overnight this monster had shown up. I ran past this today. First time seeing a cruise ship up, close and personal. They are gargantuan in scale. This one was much, much bigger than the one we went past in the Panama Canal.

  27. Run in Riga Jun 16, 2024

    Put in a 5K by the river Daugava and Old Town. This marks the 34th country I have put in a 5K or more in.

  28. Fascinating Facade Jun 16, 2024

  29. Next stop, Jurmala Beach Jun 16, 2024

    Tried out a train in Riga to go to the beach.

  30. Interesting sign on the beach Jun 16, 2024

    Have you ever seen a sign like this on a beach? It has clearly marked one side for active recreation and the other for passive recreation!

  31. Speaking of “active recreation” Jun 16, 2024

    On this Sunday morning, a soccer match was in full flow on the beach. The average age of the players was clearly 50 or above. For some of them, the jersey could not get past their beer belly. But when it came to soccer, they were all too serious and were giving it their all. Loved the spirit!

  32. Jurmala Beach Jun 16, 2024

    The beach is fairly hard and the sand was quite tightly packed. There are dense forests on one side of the beach and the Baltic Sea on the other.

  33. A very different side of Baltic Sea Jun 16, 2024

    You may remember from my Nov 2023 visit to Nida in Lithuania how angry and cold the Baltic Sea was. Today, in Jurmala, it was as docile and inviting as it could be!

  34. Tried out the Latvian version of the Pink Soup Jun 16, 2024

    I could not taste any difference (liked both of them) but I understand that the Latvian version has marinated beet (instead of chopped beet) and is not usually had with boiled or fried potatoes like they do in Lithuania. This Pink Soup, served cold, is becoming a favorite of mine. (I have been a big fan of beetroot ever since I was a child)

  35. On to a boat now Jun 16, 2024

    Came back from the beach and now got on to a boat down river Daugava to check out the shores of Riga

  36. Lot of picnic going on around here Jun 16, 2024

  37. That was no sun for sure Jun 16, 2024

    It suddenly became overcast while we were on the boat. The glowing bulb created a nice contrast against the mean looking clouds.

  38. Have you ever heard of this airlines? Jun 17, 2024

    Freebird!! I wonder how their airfares are.

  39. Airport #170 – Riga Jun 17, 2024

    And as we scream down the runway, that is curtains down for this Latvian trip

  40. Another first in flying! Jun 17, 2024

    KLM has delayed us from boarding the plane. For a very unique reason, too.

    I have had delayed boarding due to all sorts of reasons – cleaning not done, attendants not arrived, pilots not arrived, plane not arrived, mechanics are still working on a problem, lightning outside, airport closed temporarily, Air Force Two flying in (happened to me once!!) … but never this…

    We are all standing inside the terminal in the AC area because apparently inside the plane is too hot now (28 C / 82 F)!!!

    I wonder how they will cool down soon. The engines are off (the plane is at the gate). The auxiliary units will take quite some time I presume. Of course, my late dad’s usual suggestion while facing such situations – “open up the doors and windows” is not going to work much either!!