Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Kaunas to Klaipėda

Biking the Curonian spit, visiting Thomas Mann's summer house and Latvian malls.

Left Kuanas in heavy rain and drove the 100 km to Klaipėda across rolling country side, there are large farms here growing wheat and barley with the crops looking good. There is also dairy farming here.

Klaipėda is a busy Baltic port and we took the ferry across to the Curonian spit. This sandy dune has been created by the Baltic currents and is now 100km long and a nature reserve and holiday place. The forest here also anchors the spit. We went down to the southernmost tip of the spit where there is a small village with wooden holiday bungalows some with fine cottage gardens. We went up onto the top of the dunes and looked across, they look like mini deserts.

Thomas Mann had a summer cottage here that we climbed up to; it was attractive with blue windows and a nice view out over the sea. Inside was a display about his life which dwelt on a long argument he had with his brother. Pete Croft gave me Buddenbrookes to read and that will give it new context.

We had a fine dry sunny ride 30 km along the spit through the forest. It was a beautiful ride, sunlight was coming through the trees and there were flowers beside the dune. Many other cyclists were enjoying the trail. We stood atop the dunes and looked out, the Baltic Sea was surprisingly rough and this contrasts with the calm of the inner lagoon. We also saw trees killed because the cormorants sit in them and their excrement is too acid for the trees, a sad sight.


We stayed in a modern designer-like hotel, but they were not able to produce extra food for people who had not pre-ordered so I walked with five of the Germans to find food. We ended up in a large new shopping mall which had an ice hockey rink at its centre with a game just starting. Ice hockey is the Latvian sport but clearly important here as well. We ate in a chain eatery and I had excellent beetroot soup served with potatoes followed by salmon salad.

I talked to the Germans about the euro and they all felt that the Greeks should have debt forgiveness and that Schuabel their finance minister is being too harsh.

A day of natural beauty with an experience of the continuing Russian approach to consumers.

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