Tis The High Season

By Jane Mountain | July 9, 2013

All along our route, we’ve been told that things will be open when high season starts. Ferries will run. Hotels will be busy. Information centres will impart information. Accommodations will be busy. When high season begins.

Since early April we’ve been waiting for this magical time when tourists are a dime-a-dozen and there is staff in the restaurants. But the weeks have ticked by and there are still closed services and no sign of other tourists. Until now.

All The People, So Many People

It’s July, and I think high season has finally begun!

For a start, the campground we are staying in (in the most touristy area of Lithuania) is full. Full! Just a few days ago we were one of three camping families in a site in Poland. The town here, Nida, was crawling with sandals-with-socks wearing men of a certain age. But also with young people, and even a few in-between people like ourselves.

The supermarket was selling ice cream bars by the bucketload. Actually, they were selling individually wrapped frozen ice creams, which come complete with cone. Weird.

On one hand we are loving the fact that there are other people around: to observe, to laugh at, and in some cases, even to speak to. On the other hand, our solitude of the last few months is already missed. It’s hard to share when once you had everything to yourself.

The Curonian Curiosity

Today we joined the throngs to see the two big sites of this geographical wonder on which we find ourselves: the Curonian Spit. Look at a map. It’s pretty cool. It’s a tiny string of land, little more than a sandbar really, which cuts off a little chunk of sea from the Baltic. It’s partly in Lithuania, partly in Russia. We’ve been wondering what happens if you just walk across the border…

This morning, we wandered up to view the famous dunes, which provided a lovely view, but mostly reminded us of the landscape around Prince Edward County where Stephen grew up.

sand dunes on the curionian spit lithuania

The dunescape on the Curonian Spit.

Did you know Ontario has huge sand dunes? They do, it’s true.

Upon realising we are totally out of food, we walked along a hiking trail into town to get supplies, and took another route back to our campsite.

sundial pose at a sundial in lithuania

Sundial pose at the Nida sundial.

Everything is compact here, so the walk was just long enough to be fun, just short enough to not be tired carrying wine and groceries for dinner.

We’re Streaking

Then onto the main reason we decided to take a day off here. The nude beach!

Stephen’s biggest love may be yoga, but his first love was lounging around naked on beaches. He started at the dunes in Prince Edward County, continued on Wreck Beach in Vancouver, had to forgo nudity in England, because the beaches are all rocks and the weather sucks, and then found Point Dume in California, where he went whenever a day off coincided with sunshine.

There’s not much that makes Stephen happier than lying around naked on the beach. I, on the other hand, am not a huge fan of lying around on the beach. And I can take or leave the nudity.

The beach, which is on the Baltic side of the spit, is about a half kilometre from our campsite, via a walk through the pine forest. It’s a breathtaking site. You wander through several sets of dunes before arriving at a pristine almost-white expanse of beach. Signs direct you to your desired beach. Women-only nude, mixed nude, or fully clothed.

The nude beach near Nida.

The nude beach near Nida.

The sand is possibly the finest, softest, cleanest sand I have ever stepped on. It is like walking in flour. I immediately started to dream of the amazing naked ultimate frisbee tournament we could have here. Except for the wind, which blows onshore in fierce gusts (at least today it does) spoiling most of the fun.

Lots of game folks, mostly couples with kids, were gambolling nakedly around, and a few brave souls were even in the water. It was a bit too cool for me to want to defrock, but Stephen happily shed his outwear and underwear, joining plenty of other people in a day of naked frivolity.

And then we spent the next few hours reading, dozing, and eating. As you do at the beach.

When the wind started to drive me insane, I left Stephen to it and returned to camp to wash some clothes, do some writing, and cook dinner.

Dinner Theatre

It’s veggie chili with quinoa tonight, and I’m happy to be on kitchen duty for a change. Stephen has been cooking the majority of our meals on this trip, and while this is usually fine with me, I’ve been missing the creativity I tap into while cooking.

campground vegetarian chilli

Veggie chilli for dinner.

While eating dinner, we sit outside our tent, adjacent to the tennis court, and watch the world’s sportiest family entertain each other. There is a mother and father, a teenaged boy and girl, and a younger boy. They alternate between playing 3 on 2 basketball (parents vs kids, parents winning handily) and doubles tennis. In between points of the tennis match, the girl practices her tumbling, flinging herself through back handsprings and back tucks like it’s nothing.

We love this family. We hate them.

As we’re finishing dinner, a large group arrives to set up their tents across from us. They are two families with a couple of very little kids, maybe 3 or 4 years old. As the adults set up the camp and cook dinner, the kids run back and forth and back and forth, screaming their heads off. They are hyperactive and overtired. No wonder. They have all cycled here from somewhere, and it’s 10pm.

The Baltics are an hour behind most of the rest of Europe, so it is staying light until almost 11pm these nights, and everyone but us is celebrating by staying up late.

After Stephen and I go to bed, the tiny kids are still up, throwing tantrums, too overtired to sleep.

Through the magic of earplugs, we managed to tune all this activity out and go to sleep.  

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