3581 km so far.
Another day, another country. Ho hum.
Actually, it’s very exciting every time we get ready to cross the border, even if it’s just another unmanned EU crossing. We never know quite what to expect on the other side, and if we have expectations, they are invariably wrong.
I am expecting Lithuania to be a slightly more developed, modern version of Poland. We shall see…
Today’s ride was along rolling country roads through forests of pine trees. With the sun beating down, the whole day smelled like roasting pine needles.
Not long before stopping for lunch we passed a field with a small tourist hut in it, and three gazebos at different locations in the field. The rest of the field was empty. The big tourist feature was that each gazebo was in a different country! One was in Russia, one in Poland, and the third in Lithuania. I wonder what would have happened if we started freely walking from hut to hut.
We didn’t stop there, but we did stop at this sign, which we think says something about “Poland ends here” on it.
Just before the Lithuanian border, we stopped at the little border town’s “grocery store”. This particular store was housed in a tiny room, the size of many North American living rooms. There was a counter behind which the owner stood and the shelves behind the counter were piled high with all the typical grocery store offerings. Tins of tuna, cheese, fresh veggies, bread, baking… the only trick was, to get what you wanted, you had to ask for each individual item from the woman working.
Fairly inefficient system, especially for us foreigners who need some time to figure out what’s in a package.
Her biggest trade was undoubtedly in beer. There were two picnic tables out back filled with local men drinking, and lots of empties piled up around them. We bought a couple of drinks and some cheese (I know, bad vegans, but our options were limited) and sat in the less-than-fragrant picnic shelter eating our lunch.
We chatted with another cyclist who’d come into the store just behind us. He had come from Berlin and was riding to Latvia to a family reunion. Having decided flying was too boring, he took a more interesting form of transport to get there.
After lunch, we went back into the store to try and spend our last bits of Polish zloty. It was then that I discovered I had 100ZL more than we’d thought, so we settled for spending our change and keeping the big bill.
The Invisible Line
We weren’t even sure if the tiny country road we were headed down would actually cross the border, but it did. A simple “Hi, You’re In Lithuania” sign was all that officially marked the change.
But, as soon as we were across, several cars with Lithuanian license plates drove by. How do they do that? There was nowhere for them to come from but Poland, and we hadn’t seen any LT license plates in Poland. But as soon as we’re across the border, boom, Lithuanian plates.
One of the mysteries of the universe I guess.
We passed by a few campsites, heading towards one we were pretty sure existed a little closer to the first actual town in Lithuania. As we rolled down the drive to the campsite, we were pleased to see that is was an actual campground, with trees, picnic tables, a big lake, and a bar. The other unique thing about this campground is that it is full of people camping. In tents, not campers. So strange for Europe.
We haven’t seen a real campsite since… uh… America?
The campground is also filled with lots of wild animals.
We didn’t yet have any Lithuanian currency, and the camping attendant informed us there was no Bankomat in the nearby town. Lucky we’d kept that 100 zloty bill, as the attendant agreed to take it at a very unfavourable rate (for us). That’s OK though, because camping is a lot cheaper in Lithuania. Even with the bad exchange rate, we shaved 33% off the prices we’ve been paying the last few nights in Poland.
Our tent is a little way back from the crowded lake shore in a shady grove of pine tress.
From here we have a perfect view of the lake, the far side of which is in Kaliningrad, Russia. We are congratulating ourselves again tonight on having technically completed our Rome to Russia goal, even though neither of us thinks Kaliningrad really counts. ♥