Day Trip to Loch Ness

Sightseeing

Hello!

Welcome to another short post of the sightseeing variety. On Saturday, I went to probably the most famous tourist attraction in Scotland – the Loch Ness lake. I didn’t find the Loch Ness Monster (also affectionately known as Nessie) but I did manage to have a great time on this one day trip.

I, and the group of students from my university’s International Society, set off from Aberdeen at around 8am in the morning. On our way to Loch Ness, we stopped at Inverness for food and other supplies. Before noon, we reached the lake itself and paused to take pictures of its northern side, where River Ness flows into Loch Ness.

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The first proper attraction on our list was Urquhart Castle or the ruins of it. Situated on the shores of the lake, this castle was a perfect stronghold for various Scottish lords and clans, until it was destroyed at the end of 17th century. Nowadays, the ruins are an excellent place for historical sightseeing – they are massive and it takes at least and hour to walk around the remains of the castle and check out all nooks and corners of it. There is also a cafe, a gift shop, and a film theater, which screens a short movie on the history of the castle, nearby.

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Next stop of the trip was the tiny village/settlement of Fort Augustus, located at the southernmost point of the Loch Ness lake. Not only does this tiny town is super cute to walk around and has an amazing view of the lake, it also the place of the Caledonian Canal – a massive structure of locks, bridges, and aqueducts used to regulate the water levels in the surrounding lochs. Speaking abut the stunning views – during our visit to the town, it started to rain a bit and the sun was also shining quite brightly (it was starting to set), so, we managed to catch a glimpse of a full rainbow above the Loch Ness lake. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen a full rainbow, especially in such an open and unobstructed place. The sight was magical and I couldn’t stop taking photos. Fort Augustus also had a gift shop, in which I treated myself and my family to some souvenirs.

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The following photos are of the postcards and other gifts that I purchased. I got a variety of cards to add to my collection as well as few to send to my aunt and a friend. Also, I got a fridge magnet for my parents and a plushie of Nessie, because it is the stupidest and the cutest thing ever and I couldn’t just not buy it.

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I highly recommend you visit this superb place if you get a chance. The more of Scotland I see, the more I fall in love with its nature. Last spring, I went to the Isle of Skye and Glencoe Valley and blogged about it, if that interests you.

Have a great week!

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Swimming: Sudeikiai Open Water Marathon 2016

Sports

Hello!

This is the last short sport/swimming update post this summer. Today, I took part in the Sudeikiai Swimming Marathon and lost all my energy. Let me elaborate.

The Sudeikiai Swimming Marathon is the hardest one out of the 4 open water swims I do each summer. The weather is usually not the nicest as the marathon takes place at the end of summer. This particular lake, in which the swimming is actually done, also tends to have huge, almost sea or ocean-like waves. 

This year, the weather and the water’s temperature were both quite horrible. The waves were also way too big for a lake. It was hard to swim the first 500m (I did 2,5km distance, I could have also chosen the 5km distance) because I didn’t have a chance to properly warm up. The next 1000m were fine – not easy but not too hard or too energy consuming either. The last kilometre of the distance was the most horrible one – it was a long and losing battle against the waves. Nevertheless, I was quite proud of myself for finishing the distance in these awful conditions and I got even happier when I found out my time – it was way better than I expected or predicted.

I skipped this particular marathon last year because I had other priorities. However, I did participate in the event in 2014 and did a post on it – you can find it here.

Bellow, I will include some photos from the location of the event as well as a picture of the swimming caps that all participants got. All athletes also received free lunch, a bottle of water, and the competition’s certificate.

Swiss Swimming Marathon 2016

Sports

Hi!

This is just a quick update post for those who actually read my writings about sports events (thank you, BTW)! I started my 8th open water swimming season by participating in the 7th annual Swiss Swimming Marathon.

The marathon was started in 2010 and I haven’t missed a single one of them. Usually, the water in the lake that the athletes swim in is pretty cold but this year it was perfect. Definitely above 23 degrees Celsius. The weather was also amazing: hot (35 degrees Celsius) and sunny.

Swiss marathon’s distance varies year by year (depends on the water temperature). This time, we competed in and completed the full 2,2 km distance. It is not the official length of the open water marathons but it’s enough for the majority if not all that of the participants.

Since I haven’t trained at all, I was happy to just finish the distance and didn’t care much about my result. Nevertheless, I still came in 3rd in my age group (photo of the medal bellow). All the swimmers also received official T-Shirts, so now I have 7 almost identical tops. I wish they would change up the design.

Athletes, who didn’t want to swim the 2k distance, could participate in the triathlon competition (shooting, 2km running, and 200m of swimming). Disabled swimmers could try out their skills in the 300m swim.

Overall, I had a great time swimmer the marathon as well as catching up with one of my friends by the lake. You can find more photos from the event here. If you want to check out my previous posts about this marathon, you can read about my experiences swimming the Swiss Marathon in 2014 and 2015.

Have a great week!

Sightseeing: Kaunas Reservoir Regional Park 

Sightseeing

Hi!

Welcome to another sightseeing post. This time, I will show you a few photos of my native country of Lithuania, especially the snaps that I took while visiting Kaunas Reservoirs/Regional Park.

Since I no longer live in Lithuania during the majority of the year, I cherish each and every moment that I spend exploring my motherland. In addition, my relocation to UK/move abroad allowed me to better see how beautiful and unique Lithuania’s nature actually is.

On Sunday, I and my family visited a few locations around the Kaunas Reservoir a.k.a. the artificial lake. This are is also known as the Kaunas Reservoir Regional Park. We walked around the Juniper Valey (in Lithuania language, Kadagiu slenis) and then followed the Geological Trail of Ziegzdriai (in Lithuania language, Ziegzdriu Geologinis Takas). All the photos bellow are from these 2 places.

Both the valley path and the trail are comfortable and convenient. The valley path has a wooden surface, while the trail is a simple forest path. The car parks near the beginning of the valley path and the trail are small but sufficient.

The scenery is amazing and an exceptional example of Northern/Eastern European nature – lakes and spruce/fir trees. There are quite a few informational and interactional displays. The signs that ask the visitors not to litter are also fun – one of them say that Chuck Norris will be angry with you if you throw rubbish around and the other one repeats this message in a few languages. There is also a sign that says: ‘There is no wi-fi, please, connect with nature’.

I had a great time walking around, breathing fresh air, and just taking in all the beautiful sights. I highly suggest you visit this place, no matter if you are a Lithuania or a foreigner. I suggest you use GPS, though, as this place is not that easy to find, although it is close to a major city of Kaunas

I’ve already done one sightseeing post about Kaunas Reservoir/Lagoon. You can find it here. Have a great week!

Swimming Marathon: Switerzland 2015

Sports

Hello my dear readers!!

Last week, I’ve participated in my first swimming marathon this summer. That was The Swiss Swimming Marathon 2015 (in Lithuanian language – Šveicarijos plaukimo maratonas 2015). I have already explained why this marathon and the village that it is held in has the same name as a European country. You can find that blog post here.

Anyway, since I haven’t been training at all, I chose the shortest 1 km distance and even managed to win it in a women’s group. It was one of the hardest swims of my career. The weather also seemed way too cold. The organizers said that the water temperature was 20 degrees Celsius (68 F), but it felt like 17 C (62 F) at best. The air temperature was 22 C (71 F).

I wasn’t even planning on attending this marathon but then the nostalgia kicked in. This was the 6th Swiss Swimming Marathon and I have participated in all of them since the beginning. Moreover, this is probably my last year of swimming with my team because I am graduating this year and moving to Scotland . So, I figured that this is probably my last chance to swim in that particular open-water competition, so what the hell, let’s do it.

Bellow I will include some links to a few Facebook photo albums where you can see more moments from the event. I will also include a photo of my commemorative T-Shirt, a medal and a diploma. Have a great week!

Photos on Facebook here.

Movie review: Unbroken

Movie reviews

Hi!
On Monday, I went to the cinema to watch Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. I have seen several films depicting World War II events from different angles (Schindler’s list, Fury, Inglorious Basterds, Pearl Harbor, Forest of Gods and The Imitation Game) and now Unbroken joins this list.

In short I would describe the film as a mixture of Life of Pi and Fury with a pinch of Forest of Gods and topped of with Edge of Tomorrow.

Unbroken isn’t Angelina’s directorial debut – it’s her 2nd time being behind the camera. The film tells a story of Louis Zamperini – an Olympic athlete who spent the 2nd World War in a prisoner of war camp in Japan after surviving 47 days of a raft in the middle of the ocean. It’s based on a book by Laura Hillenbrand as well as real life events. Sadly, the real Louis Zamperini died in spring of 2014 and didn’t get to see his life on the big screen.

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Acting

Louis Zamperini is portrayed by Jack O’Connell – a British actor who is best known for his work on the TV show Skins. I liked his performance, it was so-so at the beginning of the movie but in the end, when Jack really got into the character, it was just amazing. The emotional dual between him and the Bird truly showed his talent and made me enjoy the scene which was actually horrible and heartbreaking but inspiring at the same time. I would love to see more of his work.

Speaking about the Bird – a Japanese general who tortured Louis both mentally and physically – he was played by a Japanese singer Miyavi. The character seemed a bit cartoon-y to me – almost like a stupid school bully. Nonetheless, I hated the character almost as much as Christoph Waltz’s Hans Landa in the Inglorious Basterds, so Miyavi did a great job as a villain.

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Other cast members included : Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney, Luke Treadaway, Jordan Patrick Smith and many others. As you can already tell, this is an all male cast type of movie. I don’t have any problems with that because there were no women at war. However, I do have a problem with the fact that I can’t remember anything about the characters that these actors played with the exceptions of Jack O’Connel and Miyavi. They didn’t develop them well enough and didn’t make me care about them or even remember them at all.

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Visuals and Directing

The movie is beautifully shot and I really liked Angelina’s work as a director. The scenes in the water were cool but sometimes cheesy while prisoner of war camp was portrayed realistically.

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Sport

Louis Zamperini was an Olympic runner and for me as an athlete, the part which told us about his athletic career was the most interesting. I also loved the fact that they didn’t diminish the importance of sport in Louis Zamperini’s life. If he hadn’t been an athlete and hadn’t trained as hard as he did, he probably wouldn’t have survived the war. I loved the clip of the real Louis running with the Olympic torch in 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan.

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Religion

Louis Zamperini also was a religious person, who found God when he needed him the most. Religion’s theme was mentioned in the film but didn’t explored deeply enough. The end of the film was really touching and made me tear up. It showed the importance of forgiveness – sometimes it’s better to turn the other cheek than to raise a fist.

Criticisms

Unbroken received mixed reviews from the critics and was shut down from the award’s season. Overall, I liked the film, though, a few scenes were really unbelievable and took me out of the movie. For example, their fight with a shark – you can’t catch a shark with your bare hands. The pacing had a few problems, but I would still recommend to watch this movie if you are a sport’s fan and interested in history.

Rate 4/5

Trailer: Unbroken trailer

Photos: Screenshots form the trailer.

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My summer holidays in Lithuania 2014

Sightseeing

Hello!

How are you feeling today? Since it is the last day of summer, I decided to tell you all about my summer holidays and what I have been up to.

You have already read about swimming and running marathons that I have participated in this summer as well as my trip to Berlin. You can check those posts again here: Multi-sports, Festival, Swimming 1, Swimming 2, Swimming 3, Swimming 4.

But that is not all what I did this summer:

In the middle of July, me and a bunch of my friends went camping for a couple of days. We rented kayaks and rowed 20 km down the river Dubysa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubysa). In the evening we went swimming and relaxed in a sauna, then spent all night talking by the fire and went to sleep to our tents in the early morning. The next day, after late breakfast, we played football and volleyball and then went home. It was a nice little trip that helped us bond even more.

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At the end of July, me and my dad went to Klaipėda (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klaip%C4%97da) and spent a couple of days by the Baltic Sea. On Monday, we went to resort town Smiltynė (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smiltyn%C4%97) by ferry, walked in a pine forest for a bit and spent the rest of the day by the sea, sunbathing and swimming. On Tuesday, we rented bikes and took another ferry to Nida (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nida,_Lithuania) (we went by Curonian lagoon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curonian_Lagoon) and then cycled back to Klaipeda. We cycled 50 km in 5 hours. The same day we walked around the harbor, saw a sculpture for people who died at sea. On Wednesday,  we went back to Smiltynė and relaxed for a bit before going back to the city.

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In the middle of August, we did another cycling trip from Kaunas to Kačergine. We cycled about 30 km there and back. Kacergines forest (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ka%C4%8Dergin%C4%97) was amazing and perfect place for calm recreation.

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And just today me and my family went to the park by Kaunas lagoon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaunas_Reservoir_Regional_Park )  and walked around, visited Pažaislis monastery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pa%C5%BEaislis_Monastery).

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I hope that you had an amazing summer and that you have enough energy to get back to school,work or whatever you are doing.Bye!

Multi-sports: Lampetronas 2014

Sports

Hello!

Remember when a few post ago, I said that that was the last time this summer when I was writing about a sports event? Well, I unintentionally lied because yesterday I participated in multi-sport event by accident.

This multi-sport event I am talking about is 2nd annual Lampetronas 2014 event. Visit the website of the event

Lampetronas is held near Lampedziai Lake in Kaunas and in the forest that surrounds the lake. The competition consists of 5 contests: 1.2km of swimming, 17km of skating, 8km of rowing a kayak, 19km of cycling and 9 km of running. It’s like a spin-off of triathlon .This competition is definitely not for the weak and it is also sort of challenge for yourself. You can participate individually or, if you are not strong enough, you can participate with a team.

I was supposed to volunteer at the event but one of the teams was missing a swimmer and one of my friends bragged that I am a swimmer and they begged me to help them and I agreed because I had a swimsuit in my bag. So, I was responsible for the first event – swimming. After the start, I was swimming in the 3rd place but by the end a man bypassed me because I couldn’t find a finish line in the lake. I was really happy with my result and I definitely gave all of my energy to it.

After that, I had some time to relax and when went back to my voluntary work. I and my friend were standing in the middle of nowhere, in the cycling/running track, watching if all the athletes were abiding the rules. We were standing there for 3 hours and at least one hour of these 3 hours was spent in the rain.

When we finally got back to the camp, we watched an award ceremony and I was pleasantly surprised that my team got 5th place. We were all really happy but really tired as well.

I would like to participate in this competition next year. But maybe with a bit more preparation.

I am afraid to say if this is my last sport blog post or not because I am kinda planning to cycle in another bicycle marathon on August 31st but I still don’t t know if I am up for 40 km of cycling. I guess you will find out in a couple weeks’ time. If you want to learn more about my activities follow me on twitter @LunaTheia

Swimming marathon: Sudeikiai 2014

Sports

Hello!

Last weekend (on August 9th) I participated in the last swimming marathon in Lithuania this summer – 6th Annual Sudeikiai Swimming Marathon. Sudeikiai is a little town in eastern part of Lithuania near the city of Utena. You can learn more about it here: http://utenainfo.lt/en

(The location of the town is the red dot on the map as always with these type of posts:)

lh-map

We were swimming in Alaušas Lake which has super clean water – you can see the bottom of the lake almost all the time even if the lake is 10 meters deep or even deeper. There were two distances to choose from: 2,5 km and 5 km. 5 km is the official open water distance approved by FINA.

Since I have not trained at all and I wasn’t preparing for the marathon at all I chose the smaller distance and the swim was still very hard for me. The water was warm, the wind – calm and the weather always changeable: the sun was shinning one moment and the clouds would cover it up the next moment. Nonetheless, it was warm enough.

This marathon was also the finish of Grand Prix competition: it was a relay of three marathons. The competition was between teams of 4 people and the winner was determined by counting FINA points which consist of points gained for the time, points for the age (older means more points) and points for place you’ve won in your age group.

This was my 4th time swimming all the marathons in Lithuania and I am planning to do it next year. Next sport post will probably be about a running marathon in the capital of Lithuania. I am planning to attend it. Have a good week! Bye.

Swimming marathon: Platelee-2014, Lithuania

Sports

Hello!

Last week. I participated in the 33rd annual swimming marathon PLATELEE-2014 which was held in little town in western part of Lithuania. This swimming marathon is the longest running outdoor swimming event in my country and this year it has attracted the biggest number of participants yet. 161 swimmers chose the distance of 1.8 km and around 30 athletes swam 3.2 km.

The weather was super hot and the water warm as well. I was happy with my result mainly because I managed to outrun (out-swim) my couch.

All of the participants got a commemorative t-shirts and diplomas. There were also smaller distances for kids and disabled athletes and fun attractions like tug of war in the water for viewers. However, the funniest contest for viewers and participants alike is competition of swimming with unsuited measures, for example swimming in a pot, in a coffin or on a ladder.

This was my 10th year going to this marathon. Plateliai town has a rich history and Plateliai lake has many legends surrounding it. The biggest catfish in Lithuania is rumored to live in it, it weights around 400kg. More info: Plateliai town Plateliai lake

The red dot on the map shows the location of the lake, it is a part of Zemaitija national park.

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This photo shows the distances we were swimming in the lake.

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Next swimming marathon will be held on 9th of August in the eastern part of Lithuania. Have a great last month of summer!

You will find more photos here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.695621537160336.1073741913.188180954571066&type=1 (Photos belong to A.Ališauskas).