Updated 2006-03-17

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Along the Coast

Come along to the Baltic coast. The Lithuanian holiday paradise is there.

The Lithuanian dream of freedom and holiday can be expressed in two words: ”The Sea”

Let’s take a trip along the Lithuanian Baltic Sea coast. We will start in the north near the Latvian border in the holiday resort Sventoji, work our way down to Palanga, a short detour to Kretinga and end up in the harbour city Klaipeda. The journey ends on Neringa, the sandbank and National Park, with its fantastic nature, stretching from Klaipeda down to Russian Kaliningrad. The sights are plentiful.

This is the lowest level. Click the images to enlarge!

  General and Partying
  The Beach
  The Food
  The New Church
  Amber and amber museum
  Palanga Church
  Promenades and parks
  On the beach
  The rose garden
  The sobor
  Saying goodnight to the Sun

  The harbour
  The sculpture park
  Kretinga Church
  Palace - Town museum
  Astronomic calendar
  The hill of witches
  The Nida sand dunes
  The Nida sundial


Let’s start way up north in Lithuania, as far as civilisation stretches, as the Lithuanians use to say, in the resort Sventoji. “Resort” is “kurortas” in Lithuanian, probably something borrowed from German. You can’t accuse this town of being pretty or charming, but it definitely spells “holiday”. Pedal cars, kids playing football in the streets, and other kids throwing balls at the Lithuanian national basket. Here, all you need is a flat, a barbecue, a sun chair and large keg of beer.
Sventoji once was a sleepy summer city, by the idyll is quickly fading. Among the strangely run down rest homes of the Soviet era, new glass-front hotels are skyrocketing.
Palanga seems to be as exploited as it possibly can. Now, the next unexploited property is being targeted. Someone owning property here, now in 2006, could make it big in ten years.

Sventoji, on the beach, overview

The beach is long, seemingly endless, stretching from the Latvian border and many hundred kilometres down to Palanga.

Sventoji, the Monkey Bridge

The Monkey Bridge has been in Sventoji, at the end of Main Street, as long as anyone can remember.

Sventoji, smoked fish

Smoked fish for everyone. All Lithuanians gather automatically like flies around, well, smoked fish. The simply can’t resist it.

Sventoji, on the beach, a tunnel in the grass

A tunnel through the beach grass.

Sventoji, city centre

Central Sventoji still looks like a small city, a little holiday village, but this changes radically in the evening...

Sventoji, strange pleasures

Partying is not as intense in Sventoji as in Palanga, but you’ll find game arcades and noisy amusement parks here, too. The new craze is smoke machines. Pity the people living in the city centre.

Sventoji, the Slingshot, going in a rubber band

You get into this one, buckle up and are thrown 25 metres into the air, tumbling and vomiting. Afterwards you can buy it all on video.

Sventoji, the Slingshot, going in a rubber band

Sproing! Someone going on a backward bungy-jump.

Sventoji, mean attraction

Sventoji, amusement park

Svetoji, yellow car

Weak after yesterday’s party you lumber towards the beach.

Sventoji, Sventoji river

The village has its name from the river Sventoji. Sventoji has nothing to do with the word svente, meaning party, although you are forgiven for thinking so, instead it is the word sventas, meaning holy. Sventoji is “the holy” [river].

Sventoji, lighthouse

The Sventoji lighthouse is made out of wood.

Sventoji, lighthouse at night

The lighthouse in a dramatic night shot. Below it is some sort of ruin from the Soviet days, a hotel that was never finished.

Sventoji, lighthouse

In the night the lighthouse beam sweeps the horizon, amusing all the people “sailing around”.

Sventoji, statue: fishermen’s wives

Close by the pier is this bronze sculpture of three fishermen’s wives waiting and gazing for their husbands.

Sventoji, statue: fishermen’s wives

The wind blows through their hair.

Sventoji, statue: fishermen’s wives

You see her gazing into the sun to see something.

Sventoji, the pier in evening light

The pier in Sventoji has been derelict as long as anyone can remeber. Now it lies there like a dinosaur skeleton, disappearing into the sea mist.

Sventoji, the pier in evening light

Sventoji, the pier in evening light

Sventoji, the pier in evening light

Sventoji, the pier in evening light

Sventoji, the pier in evening light

Sventoji, the pier in evening light

Sventoji, inside the pier

It is the stone masses inside the pier that keeps Sventoji’s beaches intact, wide and nice. Hopefully, they will stay there.

Sventoji, evening sun at the beach

Walk along the beach at night. It is wonderful, and most of all: quiet.

Sventoji, hangar and sour woman

In the middle of the hut area is a dented hangar from Soviet times, guarded by an angry woman. She didn’t like me making pictures of her “workplace” and screamed for several minutes. The old Soviet fear is showing again.

Sventoji, ghost house

Doesn’t this look nice? But look closer and you will see that the windows are broken, the fountain dry and the upkeep non-existent. A ghost-house.

Sventoji, ghost house

The Soviets didn’t manage roof the house. It was probably a resting home for meritorious workers, even if the meritorious construction workers never finished it.

The Food

Restaurants on the little “big” street are so tightly packed that you can go on for days and days without eating at the same place. They compete in damaging their patron’s ears with Lithuanian top of the pops. The only advantage of the loud music, as I see it, is that you can’t hear the car alarms going off. When the noise from the restaurants mix with the blaring screams from the mobile discos buzzing about the streets, you might think that you are on a jet plane landing strip. It kind of spoils you food a bit.

Sventoji, the food, waffles

Vafliai, soft, thick waffles baked on a stick and then dipped in chocolate and then in topping or cocoa, or both, is the kids’ favourite, as well as mine. The shops are open from 10 in the morning to 23 in the night. My, are the bakers tired.

Sventoji, the food, Titanikas restaurant

Sventoji, the food, Titanikas restaurant

Sventoji, the food, valgykla = food hall

Valgykla - a Lithuanian phenomenon
If you are getting short on cash, have a cheap lunch at a valgykla (= food hall, Lithuanian cafeteria), like this one with big mushrooms outside. The food is just as good as in the high street restaurants, but only about half the price. My nose grew very long after sniffing for all the good dill-flavoured potatoes. The menu is somewhat limited, but you get the food straight away without having to wait for half an hour as in the overloaded restaurants. There is no shortage of drinks, and you won’t escape the pop music either.

Sventoji, the food, Sauleta restaurant

Sventoji, the food, Volunge restaurant

Sventoji, the food, Parselio rojus restaurant

Parselio rojus, The Pig’s Paradise. Can you guess what they serve? Karka, Lithuanian pigs’ trotters with sauerkraut. And beeer.

The Beach

See for yourself. There is no better beach. But look out! There is a women’s beach where men are banned. The signs are small, maybe unreadable, and maybe only in Lithuanian. If you happen to stray there, you will learn a new form of abuse. But you will learn an important part of the Lithuanian language.

Sventoji, on the beach, frying hot

Oh well, I’m a super tourist again. Gotta lie on the beach. Gotta get sand in my hair, mobile and camera.

Sventoji, on the beach, Sandcastles, a Lithuanian national pastime

The beach is very good for sandcastles as the sand has a stick coefficient of more than 4.5 on the Ruecksack scale. Sandcastles are a Lithuanian national pastime.

Sventoji, on the beach, kids digging

Here is where I found singing sand for the first time. When you kick in it with your foot, it screams ”Peooowww”.

Sventoji, on the beach, getting your feet wet is a must

This is the first evening. Everyone gets in the water by tradition (see below)

Sventoji, on the beach, towards the sun

Who can refuse sun glittering in the water? It gets nice and sharp with 1/1000 second.

Sventoji, on the beach, parhelion in the sky

A parhelion appeared in a cloud over the sea (to the left).
...and dip their feet before going back to eat Cebureka (Russian pastry).

Sventoji, on the beach, evening

Let us finally become artful and make pictures of reflections in water and setting suns.

Sventoji, on the beach, evening

Point the camera downwards for at bit.

Sventoji, on the beach, evening

Try to get the clouds properly exposed. Not easy. I was lucky here.

Sventoji, on the beach, a wave beating

A wave leisurely beating on the beach.

Sventoji, on the beach, shell

How about some microscopic shells in an extreme close-up?

Sventoji, on the beach, streams of sand

The sand had formed interesting flows on the beach one morning. Unfortunately it was on the women’s beach...

The New Church

The newly built church is very special, in fact so special it has become a national scandal. Some call it a monster. It’s not beautiful. The locals shun it in the winter because it is not heated. The go to the old church.

Sventoji’s new church, ouch Sventoji’s new church, yechh

The most frightful thing the Christian world has seen.

Sventoji’s new church, against the light Sventoji’s new church, no no no

Viewed like this, from the rear, one might perhaps, somehow find it nice. No. It’s no good from the side, either.

Sventoji’s new church, a nice building. Nooot!

The high building standard is perhaps more evident in a close-up?

Sventoji’s new church, interior

Inside it is nowhere near finished. Naked concrete floor and chairs from some closed down cinema.

Sventoji’s new church, scaffolding

But a year later the building work was started anew. Question is if it is at all possible to put it right? Watch this space for news! Sventoji’s new church, plastered 2006 In summer 2006 the walls had been plastered, but... No.


Palanga is the place to be. It’s that simple. This little coastal village is completely overbooked in the summers. The number of inhabitants grows tenfold, from 20,00 to 200,000 people. They sleep on the beach, in the parks and the forests around. But the merchants and restaurant owners have all stored up and do not complain. You really don’t have to go Majorca or any other place to get a tan when there is a place like Palanga in Lithuania. They have infinite amounts of white sand, lots of restaurants, beer places, night clubs, amusement parks, discos and other places where you can spend money.

The holiday paradise unfolds

Lie around in the sun and get burnt, ride a fast boat and intimidate all the bathers, party all night, or meditate silently in a park or a church. You can do anything in and around Palanga.

Palanga, on the beach

The water is warm and nice and not as disgustingly salty as the Mediterranean. The sun shone on this picture, at least.

Palanga, on the beach

The sand doesn’t get whiter than this. People in the Baltics have understood this already. The place is popular.

Palanga, on the beach

The beach is very long and you can walk in the shallow water and play with the kids.

Palanga, on the beach, against the sun

Ah! Another one of these pictures against the sun.

Palanga, amusement park

When you are tired of bathing, there are a few amusement parks to get you screaming.

Palanga, amusement park

There are lots of places for the kids to go screaming, too.

Palanga, amusement park

And then some quieter pleasures for kids who don’t enjoy four g’s all the time.

Palanga, at the sunglasses place

Why not get out in the street and buy (below)

Palanga, enjoying a pizza after the day’s bustle

If you get hungry and thirsty during the day, the town overflows with pizza places. The Lithuanian pizzas are a wee bit better than the Swedish ones.

...tourist stuff, things that you just got to have then, but have lost before next summer?

Palanga, in the park

The town park is much quieter, some distance away from the screaming carousels and restaurant entertainment.

Palanga, promenade

Palanga is a town made for taking walks. Have an ice cream and walk some more.

Palanga, promenade

The broad streets with all the restaurants are always filled with happy people and barbecue smells are everywhere.

Palanga, Basanavicius Street with suspect yellow street-lamps

The amusement street, Basanavicius gatve has been spiced up and everuthing is top notch, except for the hideous lampposts. The lamps are supposed to look like seagulls in flight. Perhaps, but why terribly yellow? One might be forgiven for thinking that a company with large interests in Palanga and whose colour is yellow, the Svyturys beer brewery, owning most of the beer tents in town, has had some say in it. The lamps are slightly lighter than Svyturys yellow, or it would have been all too obvious.

Palanga, Banga restaurant

You’ll find a lot of strange tings along the Bsanavicius, such as the age-old Banga Restaurant (The Wave).

Palanga, Banga restaurant, pillar

The coolest an architect would dare during Soviet times. Raw concrete. We can smirk at it, now.

Palanga, inflatable amusement park

Inflatable amusement parks with two-storey monsters and King Kong’s.

Palanga, being slingshot

A tribute to the G forces effects on man. You can get yourself slingshot.

Palanga, lottery stand

The lottery stands rumble, flash and smoke. Everything is shouting: “Spend!”

Palanga, the calm by the sea

When it’s all too much, go down to the sea. It’s quiet there in the evenings. Except for the disco-beer-tents.

Palanga, cross

But look out! There is another side to Palanga. There is art dangerously close by. You might even forget the beach.

Palanga, Egle and Zilvinas

The statue shows the Lithuanian myth... (below)

Palanga, stopping for a drink

Then comes the night. If you’re getting tired, sit down, have a drink or by all means a hot dog Lithuanian style, baked into the bread.

...about Egle and Zilvinas the grass snake, a beloved tale. The snake’s head is all worn. Everyone wants to be photographed in the statue.

Palanga, Kastytis and Jurate

At the end of Basanavicius is the statue of Egle and Kastytis, two mythical figures. The kids climb in it all the time, but it is...

Palanga, Kastytis and Jurate

tolerated, just like everyone always wants to be photographed with Egle and Zilvinas.

Palanga, war monument

To our utter amazement we find a genuine Soviet war monument behind some bushes, with hammer and sickle.

Palanga, sales in night time

In the evening everyone goes wild, even wilder than during the day. Here a few tourists buy smoked fish and have a beer.

Palanga, sales in night time

Vafliai, waffles with jam are very popular, too.

Palanga, game arcades

Don’t miss the game arcades. Pop music thumps heavily all around as people go crashing in the flight simulators.

Palanga, sales in night time

Let us finally have a look inside the restaurants. They are so tightly packed on Basanavicius that you can’t get a knife-blade in between.

Palanga, downing a beer

This is yours truly in one of them, downing a beer. (below)

Palanga, Lithuanian Karka

This is a happy guy enjoying a Lithuanian dish: the Karka, smoked pork leg with sauerkraut and a great big beer.

The Lithuanian beer is so good that they really don’t have to import. One who understood this and started his own brewery, and on top of this, serves the best food along the coast is Juozas Food Palace, 4 kilometres from Palanga. Many thousands enjoy his wonderful Lithuanian food in sturdy, rustic country environs every day. Juozas happens to be unbeatable.

But things have gone worse, or better, depending on how you look at it. Basanavicius street is now a two-kilometre discotheque. If you want to dine quietly, you’ll have to wear earmuffs. The inhabitants also complain about the noise, still it grows worse each year. Once a party town, always a party town.

Saying goodnight to the Sun

At sunset each evening all the towns inhabitants suddenly start moving towards the beach and out on the pier, to say goodnight to the Sun and to see it sinking into the sea. It’s a tradition deeply rooted within the Lithuanians. They have been denied the sea for so long by various occupying powers. There is no pop music and no one makes noise or fights.

Palanga, the pier, on the way out

The lemmings well over the sand dunes and out on the pier. Someone may be quietly playing a guitar, but otherwise everything is silent.

Palanga, the pier, on the way out

There are many ways to get to the pier’s end. Boating is one, pedal-boating another. Floating on a rubber mattress is OK too.

Palanga, pier at distance

The pier viewed from the beach later at night. People have started going to sleep in the sand for the night. Did you think there were hotels for all 200,000 of them?

Palanga, the pier, sun going down

The ceremony begins. People look expectantly to the Sun that will soon sink into the sea.

Palanga, the pier, sun going down

We go toward the pier’s end as the sun goes down.

Palanga, the pier, sun going down

The pier is angled in the middle. You are supposed to go all the way out.

Palanga, the pier, sun almost gone

Now there’s not much left. Half of the sun is gone.

Palanga, the pier, sun almost gone even more

Now it’s only a tiny speck. Everyone says “Labanaktis”.

Palanga, the pier, sun is gone

And it’s gone. As the sun is gone and all has greeted it, they walk slowly towards the beach again.

Palanga, the pier, audience

An idealised picture, perhaps, but this is the way holiday is supposed to be.

Palanga, eroded beach

Unfortunately the beach is disappearing because some clever architects removed al lot of...

Palanga, eroded beach

“old” stones under the pier in the beginning of the 90’s. Now it’s only a 5-metre strip left of the...

...previously 100 metre wide beach. Hopefully, Sventoji will be spared this fate.

Palanga Church

The church is built from red brick, white on the inside with the red brick showing through in a pattern.

Palanga Church

Nice. High. Pointy.

Palanga church, interior

As you walk through the gate is seems a little dark, but the church is cool and lovely after the summer heat outside.

Palanga church, interior

The church’s interior is high and nice and the windows make most of the light fall on the altar, while the rest of the church is dark. That’s nice, too.

Palanga church, interior, light playing

Light falls in through the stained glass windows and makes fine patterns on the walls.

Palanga church, interior, light playing

Ditto. The red brick pattern is more beautiful than if the walls would have been all white.

Amber, the Baltic Transparent Gold

The forests that once created the amber washed up on the Lithuanian beaches for thousands of years, must have been unbelievably large. The stone, actually fossilised resin, occasionally with an embedded insect can, if treated by a skilful artist, become very beautiful pieces of art. The real valuables are on the Amber Museum.

Palanga, amber necklace

The amber is Lithuania. That’s it. Look though a well-formed stone and see Lithuania. Buy it and take Lithuania home!

Palanga Amber Museum, time-line

“What the fossils tell about the world’s development”, one of the finest time-lines I have ever seen, made in brass and wood at the Amber Museum.

Palanga, Amber Museum, a case

A case with some giant lumps. It wasn’t easy to make pictures, as it was prohibited. I had to be fast about it.

Palanga, Amber Museum, front

The museum was once a palace of Count Tiskevicius, until Communism. Then he snipped off to the west with his family.

Palanga, Amber Museum, side

The palace from the side.

Palanga, Amber Museum, night

In the night it is nicely floodlit.

Palanga, Amber Museum, rose garden

Behind the museum is a rose garden...

Palanga, Amber Museum, rose garden

with the most wondrous sorts of roses...

Palanga, Amber Museum, rose garden

...and here’s another.

The Sobor Outside Palanga

This church, a Russian-Orthodox sobor called “Ivera, icon of God's Mother” is situated right outside Palanga along the north-south coast highway. Usually you drive right past it, perhaps admiring the gleaming onion-shaped dome, but no more. Regrettingly, because there are no sour ladies inside, preventing you from making pictures. Although this is not a place the Lithuanians visit all that often.

Palanga, sobor, exterior

This parish seems to very rich, just a little too rich. The onion dome must be the shiniest in the history of onion domes. Normally the sobors are not this wealthy and one might be forgiven to think that they get their money from “somewhere” to show continued Russian presence in the present day capitalistic Palanga.

Palanga, sobor, onion-shaped dome

Palanga, sobor, iconostase

Palanga, sobor, iconostase

Palanga, sobor, iconostase

The icnonostase is overwhelming. The haven’t saved on the gold leaf. All the holies look down on us, mass-produced.

Palanga, sobor, iconostase

Palanga, sobor, icon wall

Palanga, sobor, iconostase top

Palanga, sobor, ceiling

Everything is top top. No cracks, no damp-stains.

Palanga, sobor, icon wall

Palanga, sobor, icon

Palanga, sobor, icon Palanga, sobor, icon

Palanga, sobor, icon

The icons are newly varnished without cracks. Look close. They are very beatutiful. The one to the left is quite fantastic!

Palanga, sobor, icon

Palanga, sobor, food offering

This is the fist time I have seen food offerings in Lithuania. It is rice, bread, goodies and oil.

Palanga, sobor, overview with praying

There’s a small shop too, where you can buy incense and icons. Just check the rules for exporting icons.

Palanga, sobor, icon shop


Klaipeda is Lithuania’s largest harbour city, and an important one as it is the northernmost ice-free harbour in the Baltic Sea. But one just got to admit it: Klaipeda isn’t very exciting. They have it all: giant shopping arcades, restaurants, banks, the harbour, the ferries to Neringa and Sweden, but nothing beautiful to look at. The old Town, well, one gets through it quite fast, and it is true that it isn’t very old. The theatre where Hitler were shouting might perhaps raise a few eyebrows. The Svyturys (lighthouse) beer brewery completely dominates the city, as well as the rest of the country. One might be forgiven to believe one was in the country of Svyturys, and Utenos was its capital. I haven’t been very nice to Klaipeda, but I challenge anyone to show pictorial evidence of the contrary.

Klaipeda, Meridianas

The city’s pride is the Meridianas sailing ship and restaurant, full of Svyturys ads like everything else.

Klaipeda, car ferry

Ferries go everywhere. This is a car ferry shuttling to and from Neringa, the Curonian Spit.

Klaipeda, sky scraper side

An ordinary high riser close to the city centre. Its beauty doesn’t inundate you. It is a Soviet type A junk house. Renovation recommended.

Klaipeda, the harbour

The harbour is worth sightseeing, although it isn’t too easy to get in. This seems to be the boat churchyard.

Klaipeda, harbour cranes

Cranes in evening sun. Looks like a small mountain, doesn’t it?

Klaipeda, Svyturys Square

The Svyturys company seems to have unlimited amounts of money for sponsoring and ads. This square in the middle of town has changed its identity to Svyturys Square.

Klaipeda, mystic sculpture park, bomb

The Veryodd Sculpture Park, a dark and strange place. This is probably a bomb. Or perhaps a round-ish submarine?

Klaipeda, mystic sculpture park, angel

An angel with very long toes, somewhat wrinkled.

Klaipeda, mystic sculpture park, woman

An unusually beautiful sculpture of a woman.

Klaipeda, mystic sculpture park, ghosts

Two ghosts?

Klaipeda, mystic sculpture park, sea waves

And this, sea waves. I personally can’t understand how they can let a central sculpture park decay and get overgrown. Many of the works of art have had metal parts, but they have been stolen. I guess the park could be used for filming strange films in.

Sweet girl: As myliu Klaipeda

This is the first nice picture of Klaipeda, although made in Vilnius... As myliu Klaipeda - I love Klaipeda.

Sweet girl: As myliu Klaipeda

A group of schoolchildren from Klaipeda wore these shawls at the Schoolchildren’s Song Festival in Vilnius in 2005.


Kretinga is a little holiday town some distance into the country from Palanga. Life here is slower, or perhaps... dead. The city has three landmarks: its very high church, the Tiskevicius palace (now town museum) and the astronomical calendar.

Kretinga, town park

The town park

Kretinga, the Lourdes cave in the town park

A little way from the church, in the town park, is a cave behind bars. It is the local copy of the sacred Lourdes cave in France, where many Catholics have had miracles happening to them. There were no crutches on the walls here.

Kretinga, grave yard entrance

What catches your eyes next is something that risks falling on top of your head, the grave yard gates.

Kretinga, grave yard entrance

Eyeing through the gate uncovers the typical Lithuanian slightly disorderly type of graveyards with flowers growing wild. Not like in Sweden where we have straight lines of well-polished stones.

Kretinga, grave chapel

Proceeding, you will find a high, mystical, and locked, grave chapel on a hill among the weeds.

Kretinga church and monastery

Kretinga Church is very high. Its tower can be seen far away. Inside it’s not very exuberant, mostly white and flat. One can see from the remaining frescoes, that it was finer in the old days. The organ has gone missing - stolen perhaps - and is replaced with a battery of loudspeakers.

Kretinga church, outside

The church tower is terribly high and pointy. I managed to take this picture so as not to show too much scaffolding. The facade is being renovated.

Kretinga church, a monk on the go

An interesting detail is this monk half way up the tower. He looks like he was just going to... Well, think for yourself.

Kretinga church, sculpture of Mary

An unusually beautiful sculpture of Virgin Mary in a flowerbed adorns the entrance.

Kretinga church, middle altars

The middle altars close-up. They are terribly high.

Kretinga church, main aisle

Middle aisle. Everything is white.

Kretinga church, left side-altar

The very outermost left side-altar.

Kretinga church, left side-altar

The outermost left side-altar.

Kretinga church, left side-altar

Left side-altar.

Kretinga church, right side-altar

The right side-altar.

Kretinga church, right side-altar

The outermost right side-altar.

Kretinga church, right side-altar

The very outermost right side-altar.

Tiskevicius’ Palace - Town Museum

Kretinga, Count Tiskevicius’ palace

Kretinga, Count Tiskevicius’ palace, the junk around

Kretinga, Count Tiskevicius’ palace, frieze first floor

A nice, little palace with a winter garden added on the left (stupid!). After the Soviet occupation, town museum. Zooming out we see that the palace has been destroyed. The Soviets added a giant, hideous building, in a building style that can make any palace look like a transformer station.

The roof of the parade room is fine!

Kretinga, Count Tiskevicius’ palace, living room, second floor

Kretinga, Count Tiskevicius’ palace, side room, second floor

Kretinga, Count Tiskevicius’ palace, winter garden

The second floor has been kept somewhat intact since the Count lived there. There is authentic art, though much of it was stolen during the Soviet years... ...but the paintings have blobs and all of them seep with moisture. There is a coin collection, not too interesting, apart from a framed set of original Lithuanian bills from the 1922-1939 freedom years. The moisture comes from the winter garden, a greenhouse with lots of tropical plants, palms, cacti and a pool in the middle. It may look nice, but its moisture makes the rest of the palace mould, and in some ten years the art may no longer be there, if nothing is done. Like getting a door, for example.
The bottom floor is a museum with various objects of the 1920-30’s, such as art, musical instruments, old-time record players etc., and not very inspiring. In the cellar are expositions of iron-age finds, dug out in the grounds around Kretinga. No too fun. There is also a room with documents about the great deportations of Lithuanians in the Soviet time and a few cases with pictures and objects related to the Forest Brothers (Miske broliau), the Lithuanian partisans continuing the war against the Soviets until the middle of the 1950’s. Definitively not fun, but very instructive and spine-chilling.

About Tiskevicius

Kretinga, Count Tiskevicius himself

Count Tiskevicius was a Lithuanian nobleman, until this became lethal by the end of the 1930’s, and had 99 palaces. The reason he didn’t have 100 is that the taxes then rose markedly. Some of the palaces are still around as museums, or in some cases converted to factories, such as a carpet factory, but the Soviets let most of them decay. One of them is the present-day Amber museum in Palanga. Another lies by the beach at Galve lake in Trakai. A descendant of Count Tiskevicius is living to this day in Palanga. He returned to Lithuania after the fall of the Soviet Union but couldn’t afford to maintain the Palanga palace and gave it to the Lithuanian State, in return for ever-lasting lodging in Palanga. After many awful turns and twists he got it in the end.

Kretinga, Count Tiskevicius’ daughter

Countess Immaculata Tiskevicius (the immaculate).

Stupid rubbish!

A stupid behaviour in many eastern museums is that they charge extra for a photography permit, in this case twice as much as the entry fee. I worked my way through the house, took pictures here and there, no problems, but when we came to a room with contemporary woodcarvings I ran aground. An angry bitch came protesting and told us it was forbidden to photograph, in spite of the permit. We made her look away and I made pictures anyway.

Kretinga, Count Tiskevicius’ palace, very sour lady

This is the acidic lady. She didn’t know she would be going all over the Internet!

Kretinga, Count Tiskevicius’ palace, the secret exhibition guarded by the angry lady

This is the picture that caused all the trouble. A few carved bowls for beer snacks. Not much to talk bout. When we complained at the entrance, the cashier said: “Oh, it’s Violeta again. Yes, she does that sometimes”. But no-one said they were sorry. If they behave like that, demand to have a rebate on the photo-ticket.

The Solar Calendar in the Palace Park

A solar calendar was erected in the palace park in 2002. The sign says “Sundial”, the understatement of the year. The monument is a high, ornate spire casting its shadow at various places at noon every day of the year. We thought about how to calibrate such a calendar. Probably using a bulldozer. One advantage of such a piece of art is that it is vandal-proof. If the youngsters want to destroy it, they will have to use a crane.
Kretinga, solar calendar, view of the central pillar Flat, polished stones show important dates in Lithuanian history, like the battle at Zalgris (Grünewald), where they finally beat up the Crusaders. Other stones show other important dates such as winter and summer solstices.

Kretinga, solar calendar, winter solstice

Gunilla swinging from the winter solstice

Kretinga, solar calendar, new year

New Year, view through the Three Kings’ gnurgle.
Kretinga, solar calendar, overview

Kretinga, solar calendar, Christmas

View through the Christmas wheel where the shadow hits at Christmas day.

Kretinga, solar calendar, summer solstice

Summer solstice

Neringa National Park - The Curonian Spit

When you say “Neringa” all Lithuanians get a dreamy look on their face. This sandbank is the ultimate, the most beautiful, the most beloved place of their land. It is a protected national park area where you can’t make a fire, put up a tent or behave badly. The peninsula forms a border between the Curonian lagoon (Kursiu mare or “the lagoon”), which it contains in its entirety, and the Baltic Sea, the full power of which it takes when it storms.

Going from the north you come upon the cities, or rather small, elongated villages Juodkrante (black-beach, as the beach has black sand), Pervalka, Preila, and finally the crest of the dream: Nida. This is the place to walk around and muse at nature and the buildings. They are unlike anything else on the Earth. If you get hungry, just choose one of the restaurants. But Nida is not cheap. The restaurants are geared at German tourists, with prices higher than in Vilnius. Get up on the large dune instead. It’s for free. But don’t fall over the edge. That’s
not for free!

Today Neringa also hosts several yearly music festivals, such as the Nida Festival. There can be so much people come, that they run out of food.


Zuvedra, the seagull follows us everywhere.

Nida, view towards the sand dunes

View from Nida towards the great sand dune.

The ferry to Neringa from Klaipeda

You go to Neringa by ferry from Klaipeda.

Nida, the harbour

View towards Nida town from the harbour breakwater.

Nida, fishing-boat in the harbour

A fishing-boat in the harbour with the typical weather-vane.

Nida, breakwaters

A sailboat going out into the Curonian lagoon through the opening in the breakwater.

Nida, city hall

The Nida city hall is, obviously, on Sand Dune Street.

Nida, house with slanted roof

Long, low 45-degree roofs is the traditional building style on Neringa.

Nida, house with slanted roof

Well, yeah...

Nida’s new church, front

The new church looks just like the traditional houses in Nida with long, slanted roof.

Nida’s new church, side

The new church from another angle. The meeting-place outside.

Nida’s new church, interior

It could have been hyper-modern and hyper-ugly, but it happens to be really nice inside.

Nida’s new church, the altar

How about this? Shining polished floor. But the organ was electronic, sadly.

Nida’s old church

Nida’s old Evangelic-Lutheran church from 1888.

Nida’s historic graveyard

These graves around the old church are quite ancient, from the 18:th - 19:th centuries.

Nida’s historic graveyard

Here are more ancient graves. The markings are called Krikstai. They originate from 17:th-century Lithuania.

Nida, roof ornaments and weather-vanes.

The traditional, carved roof ornaments and weather vanes on the fishing-boats act as address tags. All figures are different and everyone knows which belongs where.

The Nida Sand Dunes

Neringa is a mythical area and many photographers have made fantastic series of images of heaving sand dunes, burning sun and fantastic wintry landscapes. Not me. This is just plain tourist images. Picturesque is just the beginning. The sand dunes at Nida, and all over Neringa, are not static. They are constantly moving. During historic times many cities have become buried and evacuated many times over. This went on until a man named Kuvertas and his son started planting low-growing pine trees, which stopped the sand’s wandering. They are now some sort of heroes.
Neringa, the giant woman created the sandbank to shelter her father’s castle at the outflow of Nemunas against storms. She carried sand from the beach in her apron for many days, to create a breakwater. Finally her apron broke and an extra large dune was created, the dunes at Nida.
It is an experience of great beauty to get up on the large Parnidzio sand dune, and slip and slide with your feet in warm, white sand and look out over the seas on both sides of Neringa. A long panorama from the dune top is among the
Panoramas . The German writer Thomas Mann lived in Nida between 1930-1932. This is probably good, perhaps, but I know next to nothing about German writers I’m afraid.

The Nida sand dune, view

From the top of the large Parnidzio kopa (“the sand dune at Nida”) you have a fantastic northward view, out over Nida.

The Nida sand dune, view

Turning slightly right (eastwards) you see more of the Curonian lagoon and you see all of Nida’s harbour.

The Nida sand dune, view

Facing straight eastward you sea the sea, of course, and you start understanding just how much sand it is.

The Nida sundial, overview

Close by is a sundial and calendar in polished granite. Its spire has fallen. It is contemporary, but if you stand there alone...

The Nida sundial, close-up of spire

you can imagine being at some ancient cult place. The stone is carved full of runes, but it is broken in the middle, probably in a storm.

The Nida sand dune, view

Continuing southwards you see mostly vegetation. There is still a glimpse of the sea.

The Nida sand dune, only sand

It’s more or less only sand

The Nida sand dune, only sand

and sand

The Nida sand dune, only sand

and more sand

The Nida sand dune, towards Kaliningrad

Facing south towards the Lithuanian border with Kaliningrad. I’ve never been this close to Russia before.

The Nida sand dune, super power espionage

Butterflies appear in the stomach as we start some super power espionage. The zoom shows some black spots, which turn out to be flags denoting the demarcation line with Russia.

The Witches’ Hill at Juodkrante - Raganu kalnas

Half-way down Neringa is Joudkrante, where wood-carvers from all over Lithuania gather in some sort of collective, creating new figures for the Witches’ Hill. It all started in 1979, to show that the world is full of witches. The Hill is a park with a meandering path, where you go and look and laugh and wonder and get the creeps from all the fantastic figures. Some are just for looking at, others for sitting on, the kids can ride on some, you can creek the ears and tongues of some, then there some that are slides for kids, etc. Most of the Lithuanian mythology is carved in wood here. A word of warning: Wood gone green is difficult to photograph against the green forest.
The Witches’ Hill in Juodkrante, entrance The park entrance is guarded by a big black evil something, with long creaking ears that you can swing. The Witches’ Hill in Juodkrante, Egle the woman and Zilvinas the grass snake Egle and the grass snake is one of the most lovely Lithuanian myths. She is a human woman enticed to marry the grass snake Zilvinas, but her brothers kill the snake and Egle turns to froth on the sea.
The Witches’ Hill in Juodkrante, fun old chaps

The Witches’ Hill in Juodkrante, Neringa’s life

Fun old chaps. The first one says Oooh, the second is the forester, the third one has a large, loose tongue that you can swing on, the fourth is a king, and the last one is the firemen’s saint St. Florion. Neringa is a mythical figure that has given her name to the Curonian spit. This series depicts her life, from being born out of the froth of the sea, comes to her father’s castle, creates the sandbank that is named after her, meets her husband Naglis and finally turns to froth on the sea again.
The Witches’ Hill in Juodkrante, witches and devils

The Witches’ Hill in Juodkrante, sitting places and offer-altars

Two witches playing cards, a witch about to fly away on her broomstick, the entrance to Hell with the Devil himself welcoming you, a close-up of the Devil, and finally the woman who fooled the Devil into dancing until the sun rose. Different kinds of seats where you can rest during the walk. The last one looks more like an offer-altar with a large, mean priest.
The Witches’ Hill in Juodkrante, weather personified

The Witches’ Hill in Juodkrante, fishermen

Here, weather is portrayed as various figures: The first one shows a witch that was supposed to make rain, but made it rain frogs instead. The second is Migle, the fog, and she is blind. The third is Perkunas, thunder. You can see the lightning strike. Neringa is strongly connected with fishing, and the two last figures are fishermen. Note the weather-vanes atop the masts, very common on ships and on rooftops.

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