Monday, June 18, 2012
BE 3000: lithuania
We got back on the Fun Bus this morning. Bouncing across the greenest - and flattest- countryside betwixt Latvia and Lithuania.
Every so often the bus would rattle past a lone farmhouse, or some stray B-52s. Dolefully sitting there. I'll bet there are babuschka's here that don't know that there's no more Soviet Union anymore.
we hired a Skoda and drove around the Eastern Bloc. Mum was a proper trooper hey. I don't know many mums that are happy to kick it at a hostel, and let their daughter's load them into a communist car and drive them around some hairy countryside. My mum is better than your mum.
Anyway, where was I. We got on the bus headed for Vilnius, capital city in Lithuania. From the outset, I expected that Lithuania would be roughly kind of like Latvia, but with a bit of pagan stuff thrown in. According to the guidebook, it's a country with heavy pagan, folklore roots. With a smattering of frenzied Catholicism thrown in.
I imagined Catholics and goblins dancing to panpipes music under low hanging trees and moonlight. That's the scene I pictured for Lithuania.
What I got was pretty much that. That NEVER happens. When your brain imagines something, and it literally almost comes true.
One thing I can say, is that Lithuania is almost definitely the most underrated undiscovered country on Earth. And out of all three Baltics I've seen, definitely my favourite.
By the time we got off the bus, Dove and I were parched. Wanted to murder a gin and tonic. Problem was, we were dumped at the 'autooobuseyum' <---that's a bus station, or how it sounds to us Neanderthals, and chaos ensued.
Firstly, nobody speaks English in Lithuania. Not one word. I know I've said this before, but I literally mean that no one has the faintest first farting clue what the fuck what coming out of my mouth when I said, "Hello." Usually a greeting evokes a smile; in this place it evokes chaos and confusion.
The first time I ever got a feeling of pure culture shock and was when I first arrived in Poland. The second time was here.
We arrived and a nice Greek man (running away from the Eurozone?) told us, that under no circumstances, should we take taxis in Vilnius. They would scam us, and leave us for dead. Since he was the third source saying this, we decided to believe him and went on the hunt for a bus.
Like all these Eastern European towns - am fast learning - every single one of them has 'an Old Town.' And all are pristine and beautiful, and touristy. One usually stays in these places, so there is almost ALWAYS a bus going towards it. Except in Lithuania. Every single bus was going AWAY from the Old Town, which we discovered 3 hours later after a few fruitless attempts resulted in nothing.
We found a woman who knew what 'hello' meant, but unfortunately not more than that and henceforth made us take two erroneous buses, go the complete opposite direction to Old Town.
Dropped the punnet in a tram - going the wrong direction - only to have a man bring them back to me on the street while I was in the middle of losing my temper.
"FUCK THIS. How are we going to get to the hostel? Fly? No idea how we sh..oh thanks very much. Yes those are my strawberries. Sorry about that....OK, so where was I? Christ." (Now waving strawberries around a lot.)
Took out the guidebook and turned to the back index and something I have never done before, started to try do that "Hello, I am lost!" translations in Lithuanian to some dude sitting at the bus stop. Because by now Dove and I were ready to kill random passersby and each other.
He didn't know what I was saying, so we packed it in, got a taxi, got scammed to high hell, but finally got to our hostel. People don't like tourists here. They are seriously suspicious of us and aren't too keen to help. I suppose because they never saw tourists before 1989.
We immediately went in search for gin and tonics and/or food. Found the most amazing sushi restaurant on the Square. (Every European town has a Square. And an Old Town. Where the former is in the latter.) Everyone dresses seriously swish in Lithuania. Properly edgy, and really beautiful. Long, lanky skinny women, in very swanky clothes. We looked like peasants in comparison.
So we met a mate whilst eating raw fish at the sushi place. He invited us to a rave. I'm not joking.
We thought, fuck it. Unless you seize the bull by the horns on holiday, you'll never experience true adventure.
So we fucking went.