The long haul

With sore heads and romantic thoughts of Polish cabbage on our minds we went north, making it just over the border at sundown. There we camped by a lake campsite run by an overly-lubricated Polish man with a knack for finger-counting, and got ready for the enormous push we had to get to the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, by the next night.

The next day our determination once again turned out to be naivity and wryly Warsaw’s traffic put us in our place. For three hours. On the hottest (or only hot) day of our trip thus far. Delayed by Warsaw, we skipped Vilnius and settled for a campground run by a surly lady in the lake region of Poland, dubbed an “agrotourist” spot. We’re still not sure if the agro refers to the pricing scheme (surly lady:“10 Euro per person”, us: “80 Polish zlotsky?”, surly lady: “alright”), or the neighing horses and electrical storms to rival a Pink Floyd laser show (Brad swore we were going to die).

The next morning our dismay over missing Vilnius was made up for by the small but beautiful town of Khonas where we had real coffee, a feast fit for kings (and really really hungry rally drivers), and kvas. Kvas is a lithuanian beverage of fermented bread, and thus a near cousin of our strange fermented namesake, Airag, an obvious a crowd favorite for the AAs. Regretfully but with happily full stomachs we pushed on and enjoyed the blue skies and Lithuanian countryside. On the way we stopped at the Hill of Crosses, an amazing site where literally thousands of crosses of all shapes, sizes and messages adorn a hill which Pope John Paul II once spoke from. The hill continues to morph with new crosses being added in prayer, remembrance, and faith all the time.

We successfully crossed a time zone and made it to Riga, the capital of Latvia and a Unesco World Heritage City, before dark, found a hostel and unloaded the cars. Then Riga began kicking our butts. Four Addicts set off to the parking lot associated with the hostel to soon discover that World Heritage City is code for blocked roads, dead ends, one ways and no left turns, anywhere, in the whole city. It was a cobblestone nightmare. Over an hour later all the restaurants were closing and we turned to scavenging for dinner with the plan to wake up at 5:30am and set off for St. Petersburg. In the morning we began looking for car insurance for Russia, which we 1: need, and, 2. can purchase in Riga. We now know that #1 is true and #2 is false, and we set off for the Russian border and St. Pete’s at 11:30am (it was a slow painful lesson in rejection). (Note to perspective Russian car-border crosses, as of 3 months ago you can no longer buy Russian car insurance in Latvia, unless your vehicle is registered in Latvia).

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One Response

  1. Don’t worry about missing Vilnius! There’s not much to see there, and all the other surrounding capitals are better.

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