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.

Sightseeing: Kaunas Lagoon

Sightseeing

Hello!

Greetings my dear readers! Summer is coming to a close, so I decided to spend the last warm days outside, hanging out with my family. I’ll miss them and warm weather when I move to Scotland next month.

On Sunday, I, my parents and my aunts as well as my little cousin went on a boat ride in Kaunas Lagoon (wiki). It’s an artificial lake, which was created as a consequence of damming the Nemunas River when building a Hydroelectric Power Plant. Nowadays, a park surrounds the lagoon and there are also a few beaches on the shores of it. People enjoy taking a walk in the aforementioned park as well as swimming and sunbathing in the man-made lake.

Some of other activities that Kaunas Yacht Club, which is located near the Kaunas lagoon, provides is renting a boat and that’s exactly what we did. I was always interested in how sailing works, so it’s was awesome to finally educate myself on that topic. The weather was also amazing: the sun was shining brightly and the temperature was around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). However, although it was a hot day, the wind above the water was quite strong, so a nice breeze was cooling us down during the whole yacht trip. I love to walk around lakes and see the nature from that angle, but it is wonderful to see it from the other side as well.

Afterward, we had a lovely picnic on a beach. The water was very warm and I was sad that I didn’t bring a swimsuit. Since I was wearing a dress, I at least was able to get my feet wet and wade a little.

There were are a lot of people relaxing by the lagoon because it was a weekend. My little cousin loves motorcycles, so he was mesmerized by people riding water-motorcycles. It was a truly perfect day.

If you ever get a chance to come to Kaunas, consider visiting Kaunas Lagoon. It’s a great place to spend your summer afternoon in as well as an amazing retreat from the city during the other seasons. Autumn is especially pretty near the lagoon when all the leaves of the park’s trees turn brown and yellow. Skating on the frozen water during the winter is also an option, just be careful. Lastly, when the spring comes and all the plants start to bloom, Kaunas Reservoir turns into a magical place.

Photos bellow:







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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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:)

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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).

 

Swimming marathon: Lampedziai (Kaunas) 2014

Sports

Hi!

On July 6th I and about 100 other swimmers participated in 2nd swimming marathon this summer.

July 6TH is a national celebration in Lithuania (not just an international kissing day) – it’s coronation day of the only king Lithuania ever had. (In 1253 Mindaugas was crowed the king of Lithuania) so the swimming marathon was dedicated to this special date.

The weather was perfect for this kind of event: it was hot and sunny. The wind was quite strong but refreshing. The water was quite cold but the weather made up for it.

I was not training for this marathon so I was surprised that it was quite easy to complete the distance and my time wasn’t bad. All of the swimmers swam 2 km distance and sportsmen with disabilities swam 500m.

This was 13th swimming marathon in that particular location – Lampedžiai lake/man-made pond.

The third swimming marathon this summer will be held in Plateliai at the end of July.

Have a great week!

Photos belong to Arlas Juodeška.

Swimming marathon: Šveicarija (Switzerland) 2014

Sports

Hello everybody!!

As I have previously mentioned, I am a swimmer. And summer for swimmers means only one thing – open-water swims/championships/competitions. Yesterday (June 22nd) was first of them this year.

To begin with, I would like to clear some things out. In the the title of the post you can see that this swimming marathon is called Switzerland 2014. Switzerland is a name of the country in Europe, but it is also the name of a little village in my country – Lithuania. Near this village there are other villages called London and Paris. This is the map of my country and the red dot is that village with a name of a famous country.

Some facts about the marathon:
Distance: 1.5 km
Water temperature: 17C or 62.6F
Outside temperature: 13C or 55.4F
This was a 5th annual marathon (I have swam in all of them).

So, as you can see the water was warmer than the air. The conditions for swimming were terrible, I have got super cold after first 500 meters, my muscles became tense and it even seemed like my heart stopped beating or slowed down. However, after I finished the distance I felt amazingly, like I have accomplished something great. I live for the feelings like that. This marathon was not as cold as the one 5 years ago. In 2010 the temperature of the water was 14C or 57.2F.

The next marathon will be held on July 6th in my city – Kaunas.

Bellow you will find the photo of the lake we were swimming in and a picture of the medal I won. (I was second in my age group).

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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