Sightseeing: road/hiking/historical trip

Sightseeing

Hello!

A few day ago, I did my first sightseeing post in a long time and now, only a week later, I give you another installment of this series. This time, I will tell you how I and a few members of my family traveled from Kaunas (wiki) to Jurbarkas (wiki) and visited a variety of locations, which have a very rich history.

We set off early in the morning and I was driving (I don’t have my license yet, but I can drive if a member of a family, who has a license, is sitting by me. This road trip was also a really good driving practice). We didn’t plan anything in advance, so we just stopped at places, which seemed interesting enough to visit. I have to admit that I have gone on this trip before with my classmates, when I was in 6th grade, but in was such a long time ago that I practically don’t remember anything. Also, who actually remembers anything from school trips, especially those from middle school years?

Anyway, our first stop was Seredžius mound. More about it here. The view from the mound was breathtaking. You can see the green scenery of Lithuania as well as the biggest and longest river in Lithuania – Neman (wiki) – flowing right by.

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The next mound we visited was actually a group of 4 mounds located near Veliuona (wiki). We managed to hike up to only 2 of them.

The first one is called the Mound of Gediminas’s Grave. It has a tombstone dedicated to Gediminas – the grand Duke of Lithuania, who lived ad ruled in 14th century. The Duke is actually buried in Veliuona. Plus, the mound has a beautiful view of aforementioned Neman river.

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The other mound that we hiked up to was the Mound of the Castle. It had a huge meadow on top of it. The castle that was standing there must have been huge. A commemorative rock with the dates of the battles that took place near the castle was also nice addition to this place.

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While near Veliuona, we also visited a museum and looked around Veliuona’s church. The museum is located in an old mansion and we actually where able to meet the owner of that mansion. She is over 70 years old and just came back from Canada. The woman spent her childhood years in the building that now houses a museum, before setting off on a journey around the world in her adult years. The museum showed the real life history – a history of one family, whose members lived there their whole lives. My favorite part was the opportunity to go to the basement of this mansion. There was no electricity in the basement and tones of old furniture and other unneeded stuff were laying around, so that place looked like it belonged in a horror movie.

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Our third stop was Raudonė Castle (wiki). It is one of the most famous castles in Lithuania. Now, there is a a elementary and middle school established in the building. There is not much to do in the actual castle, but you are welcomed to climb up numerous flights of stairs to the top of the castle’s tower. Both, the scenery and the 360 degree view, are amazing. If you are afraid of heights, you can take a walk in the castle’s park, which has ancient trees and cute ponds.

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The last stop was Panenumė castle (wiki). This one has plenty of activities. You can climb up to the tower as in Raudonė castle, but you can also visit the basement of the castle as well as the medieval jail cell. The castle also has a small museum and a huge park, where you can try your hand at archery or ride a horse. In addition, you can buy local goods at a little market, which is located in the inner-yard of the castle. Lastly, the second floor of the main castle is turned into an impromptu art gallery. Currently, there is an exhibition of paintings and other pieces of art made my junior students of Vilnius Academy of Arts (wiki).

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and the photos as much as I’ve enjoyed travelling through these historic sites and taking pictures of these stunning locations. If you decided to visit these places, wear comfortable shoes, because you will have to do a lot of walking and hiking. But the scenery is definitely worth the climb. Have a great week and see you soon!

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Swimming Marathon: Platelee 2015

Sports

Hello!

This past weekend, I and a bunch of my friends went camping by the Plateliai lake (wiki). That lake and the whole Plateliai town (wiki) is a very special place for all the members of the swimming community, which I and most of my friends are a part of. 34 years ago, the first open water swimming marathon in my country was organized in that particular lake. There is only one person, who is still alive, and who has swum in all of the marathons to date.

The first time, I and my family went to Plateliai was in 2004. Back then, I was only 7 years old and couldn’t swim, but my dad was a veteran swimmer, so he participated in the marathon. Since then, my family has been going to that event every year, and I participated in my first Platelee marathon in 2010.

Plateliai swimming marathon is also very huge party for teenager/young adult swimmers. It is a whole weekend of partying with your closest friends, doing craziest things without any consequences.

The weather this year was quite terrible, air temperature reached only around 20 degrees Celsius (68 F), while the water temperature was even lower – 15 or 16 degrees Celsius(59 to 61 F) . My whole body froze while competing in a 1.8 km distance. My friends swam the longer 3.5 km distance and was freezing even more by the time she finished. The wind was also really strong, so there were massive waves in the lake. Around 140 swimmers didn’t allow the cold weather and water to stop them from swimming and participated in the event.

All of the swimmers  received a commemorative T-Shirt (like always), a sticker with the marathon logo and a medal, intricately carved from wood. (Photos below).

Although, I am not a social person and kinda hate partying, I’m really glad that I attended the Platelee marathon and stayed for all the crazy after-party and pre-party stuff. Now, I just need to sleep for a few days to get myself back in shape. Also, I need to wash a lot of clothes and dry out my sleeping bag – during the night from Saturday from Sunday the rain was pouring non-stop, so we were practically sleeping in a pool of water. However,  a really cute cat woke me up in the morning by touching my nose with her paw. Gladly, she didn’t have her nails out. One of my friends told me that the cat sneaked into the tent through the crack and, since all of us were sleeping, that friend didn’t want to risk waking others up by shoo-ing the cat or yelling. So, we just had a pet stay over for a night.

Even if you are not a swimmer and just a regular tourist, Plateliai town and lake is still an amazing place to visit. I have always enjoyed sitting on a footbridge and reading a book or just watching the boats and yachts pass by. The lake is also full of unexplored islands which you can reach by hiring a boat or taking a ride on a water bicycle. In addition, there is a plethora of cozy little hotels to spend the night in, if you are not a type of person who likes camping.

Anyway, I hope you had a great weekend like I did. These past 4 days have been a highlight of my summer. You can find last years coverage of this swimming marathon here. More photos from the marathon are on Facebook.

Bye!

Lithuania’s Independence Day Run 2015

Sports

Hello my dear readers!

Today, I officially opened my running season of 2015 with a first running competition. The marathon was held in order to celebrate my country’s Restoration of Independence Day. We have 2 independence days in Lithuania: in 1918, on the 16th of February we announced our Independence but during the 2nd World War my country was occupied by the Soviet Union and we only restored our independent state 25 years ago: in 1990, in 11th of March.

The running marathon is held every year in Jonava and it is also dedicated to one of the pioneers of the Reformation movement in Lithuania – Abraomas Kulvietis. There are a few statues of him in Jonava (you can see one of them in the 3rd photo).

Around 550 athletes participated in the run. They could choose from 2 distances: 3.4 km and 15 km and were divided into age groups accordingly. I chose the shorter distance because,lately, I hadn’t been training much.

It took me a decent amount of time to finish the distance: my result isn’t great if you look at the results of others but it is okay for me, especially at the start of the season.

Bellow you will find a couple of photos from the event: the first one shows the start line, the second – a finish line. The third one is statue of A. Kulvietis , which I have already mentioned, and the fourth one is my number and the commemorative medal.

My next marathon will probably be Kaunas Half-Marathon at the end of April. Last year’s post about that run – click here.

Have a nice day/evening/morning!

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!

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.

Sightseeing: Birštonas city, Lithuania

Sightseeing

This past weekend, I have visited my aunt who lives in Birštonas – a small resort type city in the southern part of Lithuania. This visit gave me an idea to start new series of post called: Sightseeing. I will try to tell you about places I have seen and have visited across Lithuania as well as the rest of the world.
So without further ado, let’s begin.
Birštonas was first mentioned in 1382. It got its resort status in 1842. Even knights, lords and ladies liked to relax here during 14th-18th centuries. Down bellow you will find photos of town’s central park. Old pine trees grow there and make this park a beautiful spot to relax, walk around or do sports. There are a few playgrounds for kids, outdoor exercise equipment, basketball court, and skateboarding ramp, summer stage for live performances, table tennis court and golf court.
If you don’t like walking under the trees, you are welcomed to enjoy a walk or a bicycle ride by the river Nemunas. The view is astonishing. This relaxed environment helps people to recover from stress, depression or illness. Because of this, Birštonas has many sanatoriums and spas. People come from all over the world to recover from serious illness or injuries. The area is also famous for its mineral water wells.
Whether you choose to read a book by the river or walk around the park, while breathing fresh air and viewing local artists’ sculptures, you will definitely enjoy your time in Birštonas. If nature is not your thing, you are welcomed to walk around Birštonas city, see old neo gothic churches and rare buildings or even visit a town’s museum.
I really enjoyed my walk around Birštonas, it helped to clear my mind after a hard school week. By the time our walk was coming to an end it started to rain and the wind picked up, so we had to run to my aunt’s place. Here, while snacking on oatmeal raisin cookies and tiramisu cake accompanied with sweet lemon tea, we chatted about life and plans for future.
Hope you have a great week and I will see you later.

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