Day 6: On to Riga, Capital of Latvia

Thanks to my friend, Beth, I was reminded to finish the blogs on my Baltic trip.  So I am once again posting.  Since we returned from the Baltics in mid-August, we have had a steady stream of house guests.  The last couple left yesterday and we have no confirmed reservations for the Farmer B&B for the rest of the year.  But if you come this way, we will welcome you with great joy.

So when we last talked we were at the Hill of Crosses, a most amazing place in Lithuania.  Now we are heading by bike and bus to Riga, the capital of Latvia.  We are all very excited when we cross the border from Lithuania into Latvia.  We have to stop and take everyone’s picture, of course.  This is us as we left the Lithuania Republic.  And us as we crossed into Latvia.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA     OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Once in Riga, we were dropped off by our bus in front of a very old church. We have to walk about two blocks to our hotel.  The architecture in this area is beautiful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Once settled in our room we begin to think about dinner.  When we get to the lobby several of our fellow travelers are milling around with the same thought but with questions on their faces–“Where to go?”.  Finally someone says “Lets go this way” and of course we all follow.  We end up at a brightly lite plaza with restaurants and bars and music playing.  We chose one of the open-air restaurants and ordered a “tasty beverage”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA       OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After a delicious dinner we did a little night walking around the plaza.  One of the cafes was named Rock-a-Billy Cafe and there was rich American country music eminating from the musical group on the inside.  Riga is really a beautiful city at night and except for the architecture you would think that you were in any upscale city in the USA.  We headed for the hotel and looked forward to a good night’s sleep and an exciting Day 7.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 6: Sightseeing Around Riga–Bike Ride to Jurmala

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 4 Again: The Baltic Sea

While we were on the Curonian Spit we got some good views of the Baltic Sea.  Curiously, the coast looks alot like the west coast of the US.  But how many of us have ever had the chance to see for ourselves.  Well here it is–The beautiful Baltic Sea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then there is the beach on a nice sunny day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kind of makes you want to ditch the bike and take the plunge.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Baltics: Day 2 Vilnius to Kaunas

We left Vilnius in the morning by bus to Trakai.  From there we off loaded our bikes and began to bike.  Weather was good.  At some point along the way we stopped to tour one of the old forts that were resident along our path.  As we walked to the fort we encounter these two lovely young ladies playing music.  We later learned that this was a custom that we would see frequently on our travels.  Boys and girls of all ages were playing various instruments and looking for donations for their efforts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After pausing to enjoy their music, we continued on to the fort.  Unfortunately I can’t tell you much about it cause I didn’t take notes.  But it was rather cool inside and it looked like it could keep out the barbarians.  Here, judge for your self:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Back on the road we continued to pedal toward Kaunas along the Nemunas River.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At one point we stopped by the river side and a few of our group went for a swim.  Entering the town of Pastrevys, I was amazed to see that it looked very much like any other small American city.  Who would have thought?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We pedaled a bit further down the road and came upon this old fort.  There was an interesting sculpture set in front of the fort.  It resembled the face of a man with a watchful stone eye on all comers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As we continued to follow the flow of the river, our guide, Romas, veered off and took a road that lead down to the river.  We all dismounted and followed him down the road to the river.  We then realized that we were getting our first view of Russia.  If you look back on the Route Map, you’ll see that Russia ended up with a small section of land on the Baltic adjacent to the southwestern tip of Lithuania.  And here we stood looking at what appeared to be a nice town with a bridge and buildings.  Could have been St. Louis. Interesting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As we made our way toward Kaunas again, I was struck by the fact that the country side here in Lithuania could be anywhere in the midwestern United Stated.  I saw these same plots of land and waterways when riding across country last year.  This was clearly not Burma or Cuba or Turkey.  On the other hand it was comforting to see that this land was not dissimilar to ours.  And so far, there people do not seem to be much different than us.  Maybe younger and more fit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally we reached Kaunas and after a very nice dinner we turned in for a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow we take a ferry and ride to Nida on the Curonian Spit.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vilnius Picture–The Baltic Way

If you didn’t get the picture I posted, here it is.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Significant Event in the Baltics–The Baltic Way

In August 1989, the people of the Baltics staged a peaceful political demonstration.  This demonstration marked the 50th anniversary of the pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.  The pact and its secret protocols divided Eastern Europe into spheres of influence and led to the occupation of the Baltic states in 1940.  The protest was designed to draw global attention by demonstrating a popular desire for independence for each of the countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.  It also illustrated solidatity among the three nations.

The Soviet authorities in Moscow responded to the event with intense rhetoric but failed to take any constructive action that could bridge the widening gap between the Baltic states and the Soviet Union.  Within seven months of the protest, Lithuania became the first of the Republics of the Soviet Union to declare independence.

After the Fall of Communism, August 23 has become an official remembrance day both in the Baltic countries, in the European Union and in other countries.

The Baltic Way or Baltic Chain was formed by over two million people who joined their hands to form a human chain spanning over 370 miles across the three Baltic States.  People carried with them portable radios to be able to tell the exact time when to form the human chain from Tallin through Riga to Vilnius.

Below is a picture of footprints in Vilnius,Lithuania, that we believe was the start/end of the Baltic Chain.  It is amazing the courage of these people to stand up peacefully in their efforts to claim independence from the Soviet Union.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Baltic Bike Trip 2014–Villnius, Lithuania

In July, Georgie and I departed on an interesting adventure to the Baltics.  Neither of us had ever been there and the current tension in that part of the world made the trip even that much more interesting.

We were once again riding with our friends from BRAG along with about 20 other bikers.  Our tour would start in Villnius, Lithuania, progress through Latvia and end in Estonia.  A map outlining our course of travel is shown below.

IMG_20141012_144111_055

The miles we covered were not all by bike. Twice we travelled by ferry to reach some off-shore island and a lot of time was spent on the bus as well.  Villnius, the capital of Lithuania, was our start point.  It is a beautiful city with European style architecture.  The country is approximately 83% Catholic and that is evidenced by the number of church steeples we see in the skyline.  On the first day in town we walked from our hotel to the village, passing this beautiful cathedral.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And, of course, the church had a beautiful altar and side chapel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A group of us then did an independent tour of the town, noting the village had many restaurants, botiques  and  churches lining its streets.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We then climbed to the top of the castle that overlooked the entire city.  The view from the top was spectacular with many tiled roofs and church steeples dotting the landscape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One particularly notable thing that we saw as we walked through the village, was that most botiques offered AMBER items, including jewelry and other artistic items for sale.  AMBER is a big thing in Lithuania.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA     OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

During our tour of the town we also came across these figures atop the entrance to the local playhouse.  It look very cool and really got your attention.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA        OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By the way, we had two wonderful guides on this trip, Vaida and Romas.  Vaida is pictured below on one of the village streets.  Vaida is a super biker.  It was hard to keep up with her at times.  Romas was our historian and joker.  You could pass a rock or a tree in the country-side and Romas could tell you what event took place there in 1745.  He also had a great sense of humor.  Just what I needed.  Romas’ picture will show up later.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So after this interesting tour, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for tomorrow’s ride.  We will bike west to the Baltic Sea.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here we go again.

In my last post I indicated that we were having trouble with the WordPress email notification.  That has apparently been fixed as you can tell if you are reading this.  We are not trying to figure out why comments are not being allowed.

Until we find the answer to that problem, I am going to start posting about our bike trip to the Baltics.  I hope you enjoy it.

By the way, some of you have my direct email address.  Feel free to send comments to it in the mean time.

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IBike4Them Blog Test

Dear Friends and Blog Readers,

I have not been posting for awhile because we were having trouble with the email distribution of the blog.  We think it might be fixed now.  Some of you may even want to comment so I will know if it is working.

I would like to blog about our bike ride in the Baltics that we did in August.  We visited Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and did a little side trip to St. Petersburg, Russia.  I’m sure you will be interested in seeing some of the pictures and getting a few observations as well.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Again, I would appreciate getting a few of you to comment back so we can see if our mail posting is working.

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Baltics Bike Ride

July 26th we left for the Baltics.  Our adventure was to last until August 10th when we would return home.  This would be our first time to tour the countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.  We felt it would be an interesting experience given the unrest in that part of the world.  And it was.

We started our trip in Villinius, the capital of Lithuania.  I didn’t really know what to expect but found the city to be very European, with lots of churches and interesting stores.  The food was delicious and many of the city views were quite nice.

On the first day we walked from our hotel to the downtown area.  Our first citing was the Catholic Cathedral that dominated this section of town.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA     OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment