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Update: Thu 22:50

Thursday, 29 September

An inviolate breakfast today through I did notice on the way back up that I'd left my helmet on the bike's handlebars overnight. The hotel's secure car park evidently did its job.

The Latvia/Lithuania border is advertised on the way in (in the same way Latvia announced the end of it on the way out of the border area) and actually has some border buildings in the middle of the road. Unoccupied so they merely provide an inconvenience to the run through the forest.

I rolled down through Klaipeda failing to find a bank to exchange money at until I reached the ferry over to the spit of land (name escapes me) that runs down to Kaliningrad (the Russian enclave on the Baltic coast). I then found a nearby bank where I had to wait twenty minutes while they proceeded incredibly slowly through their list of customers not aided by me failing to understand how the ticket machine worked.

The ferry must rival the Isle of Wight ferry for limited value for money, 18 Litas (just under EUR6) for the 500m return trip. The spit itself is home to a National Park full of wildlife. Apparently. I wasn't expecting to see much and was disappointed even then. In fact, I don't think I've seen and wild megafauna since India.

I then headed on the fast road to Siauliai before deciding to take a shortcut cross country which manifested itself as a gravel road at the end of the slip road. Fortunately, it was only 7km or so before tarmac resumed and not the 90km or so I feared.

The point of coming here was to see the Hill of Crosses. They have a Stonehenge-style visitors car park with an underpass to get there ("no car park fee today, I've lifted the gates"). The hill (two hillocks rather) are a testimony to the spirit of the Lithuanians who continued to sneak up at night and plant yet more crosses in defiance of the Germans during the war and at the very real risk of being shot dead. There are tens of thousands of crosses now (from any Tom Dick or Harry who buys one at the entrance) which rather obscures the spirit and bravery of those planters during the occupation. It is still quite impressive to see.

On the way to it I saw this place and thought I'd give it a go. All was going well until a bloke called Raul turned his laptop on and caused the dlink router to go AWOL. At roughly the same time they decided to close. Raul and I were led up here to where we could reset the router and have a chin wag. He's gone to bed after a 30 hour 2500km drive from Switzerland for his job as manager of an astroturf installation company. 30 hours! Nutcase!

I did see on the weather report that it was going to be 28C in Germany today compared with the 17C or so here in the Baltics. I then read that parts of the UK are going to be touching the 30s! Let's be having some of that over here, please!

Currently at lat/long: n55 59.935 e23 23.032

Girele Motel, Siauliai, Lithuania

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