Doin' the baltics!
I blog, therefore i am!
I will never forget the weeks in the Baltics. I absolutely loved Lithuania and Latvia. Surely, it has something to do with the people i met but most places i have seen were just fantastic.
I first spend about 3 weeks in Vilnius at my friends place. He was kind enough to let me stay on the couch when i was ill which i am very thankful of. I wouldnt want to imagine me couchsurfing in this condition or staying in a hostel for 3 weeks... After recovering, he and his sister showed me around Vilnius and we also drove to the countrysite on one week-end to their house in the forest. I expected a small hutt without heating and water but it was a huge villa next to a lake for swimming with all the facilities you can dream of: we all had our own rooms, a living-room with an open-space fire, sauna and on top of that even internet! Its funny that they call it forest-house... well maybe just because it IS in the forest. We had great fun all together, walking at night without light and singing, getting scared by some monsters who were trying to kill us.... out there in the forrest... uhhhaaaa
Also i very much liked talking to my friends mother who had grown up in Siberia. Her parents have been deported to Siberia before she was born. It was shocking to hear and to learn about that past in Russias history. Also, when i was at the occupation museum i Riga (the one and only museum i have visited during my entire 5 months trip, but really worth it Never has anything toughed me so deeply. If you ever get to Riga, please visit it and find out about GULAG
Reading all about GULAG in there made me finally understand why the people in the Baltics are still almost in a "waiting for the evil to happen" position 24/7. They fear thet Russia is going to occupy them again. This is also the reason for them to work so hard day and night. To get their economy rise what would make them eligible for joining the supportive organisations....
Staying on that farm in Latvia was such a great experience. I got to meet all the family of my host including, father, mother, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces and uncles and aunties, also the farm hand who spoke in Russian to me. The little niece (probably about 4 years only) spent most time with me. I didnt understand her but we got along very well. When i was about to leave, she asked where i was going to. Her parents said Riga. But she does not like Riga, because its far away. How cute! She had accepted me as her "auntie" I could say... altough we could not communicate in one language. The farm was quite big, many cows which they were milking and lots of food. All you can imagine: cucumbers, berries, herbs, peppermint for tea, salads, apples and pears as many as you wanted. Just bend yourself and pick one of them! Of course much milk and everything that comes from it and is made out of it, meat from the cows... And when i say meat i mean like a kilo for each person. One evening there was some sort of leaving party for my hosts sister, who left for being an au-pair in France the next day. There was a 10litre bucket full of meat. Me made "shashlik" which is just grilled meat and fries came with them too. But don't think of Mc Donald's fries, no no! Real french fries, made in the oven, cut by hand and seasoned with fresh herbs and salt. None of the modern-western-world inventions needed, not even baking paper as we do use it here. .. the fries were so sticky and were glued to the baking tray.... but it was natural and true, tasting absolutely fantastic!
I have a 1000 questions, but nobody to answer them. I asked the flatmate of my host in Klaipeda (i spent more time with him as my host did not "have time" to talk to me while he was there) about the future of lithuanian agriculture. To explain it for you, here is how it works still nowadays: Older people often still live in the country site and grow their own food there. As they own loads of land, they are able to grow enough for themselves and all the family, their kids and so on. However, thats all they have, no money. The kids often choose to live in the cities, because they do not want to work for food only. -- we are talking about countries in the EU now folks!!! -- They have enough money to support their family on the country site and would get them the things they need. Also, what i learned from my host in Tallinn, its not necessary to go to the supermarket that often (more than once a month would be considered "often" i guess) as she didn't need anything. She got fresh vegetables and fruit from their parents and rarely got something from the shop. Its not so common to go to the supermarket because a) they dont need anything and b) they dont have so much money anyway. Ok lets get back to the problem i was going to portray. Nowadays, young people want to live in the cities, have money, nice clothes and travel. Nobody wants to live in the country site anymore. So i whonder, what will be in 20 years time? Will they all buy their overpriced imported and tasteless food from the supermarket too? The answer of the roommate surprised me "don't worry about that".
I spent 6 weeks in the baltics in total. Visited Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Unlike many other travellers i have met along my way, i do not only visit the capitals. Oh no, that would be a shame! I like to see the smaller towns, i visited Klaipeda, Talsi, Ventspils, Paernu: Have you ever heard about these places before? Still, these were quite populated areas and i would have loved to see more small towns. Unfortunately, the baltics are not so densely populated, which is why i could not find accomodation so easily out of town. It will all be changed in my furture travels! I was able to learn alot form the people i have met and i am very thankful for that!