Wednesday, 12 August 2015


Like I wrote in the first post of my summertrip, when I came to Poland in April I liked it so much I decided to come back and see Warsaw in the summer and that was the original reason for me to do the whole trip through the baltic states. Since Warsaw is way bigger than any of the other cities I visited (about as big as Vienna) it took some days to get an impression of the city.

Let's start at the beginning - the legend say there were two mermaids in the ocean - one ended up in Copenhagen, the other one swam down the river Vistula (Weichsel) and convinced a farmer to build a city there - and that's how Warsaw was founded.

First impression was, that it is kind of haunted by the second world war. Everywhere you go you see memorials and statues and museums and leftovers about it. But this is quite easy to understand - 85 % of the inner city of Warsaw were destroyed after the war. Also, the Warsaw Ghetto gained notoriety and the biggest concentracion camp, Auschwitz, was also situated in Poland.

Surely, some cities in Germany might have gotten it worse, but at least they were responsible for their mess - Warsaw definitely had no chance to choose if they wanted to participate in the war. So if you want to remember some mournful facts about the time of the second world war, just go to Warsaw, they kind of conserved what lots of Austrians and Germans seemingly have already forgotten.

There was this memorial of the child soldiers that had to serve in the war, mostly for transporting weapons or food. Also there were lots of memorials that remember of the resistance, like of the revolt in the Ghetto in 1943 or the Warsaw rebellion in 1944.

And then there was the time after the war when the Sowjets were in Warsaw again. The inhabitants wanted to rebuild the city as it was (based mostly on photographs) to conserve the polish culture, but the Sowjets didn't see much sense in that. So they couldn't rebuild all of it. Still, the old city looks mostly as it did before.

 But then there's the grave of the unknown soldier, that is also a memorial of all the people that died through the second world war. It used to be a huge palace, and now that's all that's left of it.

And then Stalin also decided to build a culture palace and tried to adapt it as much as possible to the polish architecture - but still the polish people don't like it and call it "Stalin's syringe" - mostly because they didn't like Stalin, they didn't like his socialism and everything that was connected to it.

Of course, I had also to deal with the heat wave, which is especially bad in a big city because the streets heat up pretty badly. For this reason there were sprinklers set up in popular tourist areas so people could refresh themselves. Furthermore the people were walking around in wells or even the lakes of the parks.

I, for my part, just decided to stay in parks most of the time, because parks have trees and where trees are there is shadow. Also, there are actually lots of huge parks in the city - if you don't want you can walk throught the whole inner city and not leave the parks because they are all somehow connected.

The parks are also quite great to just relax - there are really beautiful spots there. Like in one of the biggest parks of the city one king built a palace on the water. From there you can also do a boat trip on the lake and visit the theater on an island - it is mostly a stage on the island, and the audience watches form the shore on a tribune.

Also, in one of the parks there were lots of squirrels to feed, so I bought some nuts and started searching - and really I found some of them - one was as brave as eating the nuts directly out of my hand which was quite cute.

But also the parks suffered from the heat - some of the lakes were about to dry up, the grass was totally withered and there were even lots of leaves on the ground that just withered and fell off.

What I missed a little was some kind of viewpoint over the city - maybe I am kind of spoiled because we have the beautiful castle hill in Graz, but especially in those warm summer nights there is no better spot to relax. At least I found a spot with a little view over the river and to the beach on the other side - there are quite a lot of beaches on the other side of the river. I really thought about spending a day there.

But then there is so much more to explore in the city. Even the four days I spent here are way not enought and I didn't even visit any museums, just walked around - my step counting app says I walked about 57 km in total the last days in Warsaw.

Monday, 10 August 2015


I spent three days in Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, and it was really pleasant. Vilnius is known to have the biggest old town of Europe, which is quite nice to look at. They have a huge university with several courtyards, lots of small parks and churches everywhere. 

Besides the Repubic of Uzupis there are severall other things I found that are nice to see. So for example the tile with the star on the cathedral square. It marks one end of the human chain going from Vilnius to Tallinn to peacefully protest for independence from Russia. It was 650 km or 2 million people long. After the start of the second world war, first the Sovjets then the Nazis and then the Sovjets again deported or killed loads of Lithuanians. I saw the genocide museum that focussed on crimes to surpress lithuanian independence through Stalin and afterwards. And while it surely was a harsh time for jews there when the Nazis had Lithuania, it was still a better time for everyone else than when Stalin had the country. It got better after he died but most of the deported people (about a tenth of them were children) never saw Lithuania again. Good to know: one big player in reaching independence in Lithuania was the church fighting for their right to believe. So when they made this human chain and it finally lead to independence of the baltic states, they placed the tile and wrote "stebukla" around which means "wish" and they say if you spin once on that tile your wish comes true.

Of course I tried it – but first I had to figure out what to wish for. Love, money, success? Way too ordinary and boring. I won’t tell you what I wished for but I will tell you if it comes true.

Another great thing was the hill of the three crosses – another memorial for the resistance against the Sovjets. In the 17th century three missionaries were cruzified there, and the crosses where kept in shape by the population. But the Sovjets destroyed them as well as all other crosses anywhere. So the people of Vilnius just put up new ones and left the destroyed ones there to see. Nevertheless, you have a great sight over all the city from up there.

I even went up once in the late evening to get some pictures of the skyline. It turned out afterwards that I forgot my SD-card, therefore I only have one picture in bad phone quality. But at least I could enjoy the great sight up there. Also, it was the same day when while walking through the old town of Vilnius and all ist parks I saw in total ten different brides, mostly shooting photos or on their way to their wedding party. But on the three crosses hill in front of the skyline of Vilnius, while enjoying the warm evening, I could even see a guy proposing to his girlfriend. Of course she said yes and then they were both so happy, it was really heartwarming to see. Who says Paris is the city of love? Come to Vilnius!

Some of you may have heard about the urban knitting thend – in Vilnius I found, as I would call it, urban sewing! Found in front of the St. Annes church.

And of course, for one day I went to Trakai, a village on a peninsula of a lake with a really beautiful castle on an island (but connected to the peninsula with a bridge). The village was originally inhabitated by the Karaites („Karäer“), a turkspeaking jewish community. They had a quite original style of houses, with the gables facing the street and having exactly three windows there. I only have a photo in bad phone quality as well because I forgot my SD-card, but it is totally worth to google for pictures of „Trakai“, because it is really beautiful there! Still, I had a wonderful hot day on the castle island. The water of the lake was cristal clear, you could see every fish, and the temperature was just right for swimming. And besides, it was just half an hour from Vilnius.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Republic of Uzupis

Today I arrived in Vilnius and got some time to discover the inner city. I will write about the city seperately when I saw all of it but today I really want to share a part of the city I discovered and really enjoyed: the Republic of Uzupis.

It is a small district in the center of Vilnius, directly next to the old town, just seperated by the Vilnia river, so you have to cross the bridge to get there. In 1997 one person living there decided they should be independent from Vilnius as well as Lithuania and therefore became president. I read they even established a military force consisting of 12 soldiers, but when nobody feared them they became obsolete. And by now, they are still independent.

To make their republic official, they also have a parliament, which is the first building after the bridge on the left - the "Uzupis Kavine", the café next to the river. And on their national holiday, the first of April, they place guides on the bridge so people who enter have to apply for visa. Which they get by a stamp on their hands. Also there are parades where people who participate borrow costumes from the circus. But since the district is really not that big, the parade does not take long.

In the middle of the district, there is the landmark of the republic: the liberty angel. When I first heard about the republic, I thought it to be like Cristiania, the freetown in Copenhagen - but while Cristiania is more like a hippie town with its main focus on weed, the focus of Uzupis seems to be celebrating life.

They also have a constitution, it is written in about ten different languages on one of the streets in the center of the district. The constitution consists of 41 articles, which all make pretty a lot of sense. So just to show you an abstract:

1. Everybody has the right to live by the River Vilnelé, and the River Vilnelé has the right to flow by everyone.
10. Everybody has the right to love and take care of the cat.
12. A dog has the right to be a dog.
13. A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in times of need.
14. Sometimes everybody has the right to be unaware of their duties.
16. Everybody has the right to be happy.
17. Everybody has the right to be unhappy.
20. No one has the right to violence.
37. Everyone has the right to be individual.
39. Do not defeat.
40. Do not fight back.
41. Do not surrender.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015


First I want to say, sorry for having such a huge gap between Tallinn and Riga, but I had some technical problems which seem to be solved now. Also, if you want to, I added a function where you can receive a mail as soon as I post something new, so if you are interested, just sign up! Who knows where I am going next ;)

Klaipeda is the third biggest city of Lithuania and more or less the "door to the Curonian Split". Inside the city itself there is actually little to see. I spend some time in the sculpture park with some weird sculptures just in the middle of trees, and even more time in the very small old town with one popular square in front of the theater, a place where a fort used to be which is now a park and a really nice alley with lots of different restaurants.

What was really worth the trip was the visit on the Curonian Split. Like the hostel recommended, I rented a biketook it to Nida, the village at the russian border, by bus. From there I cycled all the way back, which is about 50 km. But first, I visited the really high dunes just in the south of Nida. The top of the highest dune is 52 meters above sea level, so it is definitiely not just a part of a beach.

Then I started cycling back the path just as long until I reached a beach. I passed a lot of very cute buildings, but unfortunately I did not take a picture because it was midday heat and I really didn't want to stop. Furthermore I didn't bring enough water with me, so at some point I was just looking where I could buy something to drink and not what to see. But luckily I found water as well as a very beautiful beach.

The beach goes down all the way of at least the lithuanian side of the Corunian Split so it never gets crowded. And the sand is so soft like I haven't seen anywhere else in Europe. The water was quite cold but just as refreshing as it should be after a bike ride.

All in all, I really think this is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been, and definitely the best sand beach in whole Europe. And if you are here by bike you are free to choose which part of the 52 km long beach you want to enjoy, depending on how long you want to go there.

The bike trail itself was really nice and there was no way to get lost. It gave me the opportunity to see all of the beautiful nature as well as the nice villages on my own. Especially the forests are quite great, there is
moss everywhere on the ground, and you can see that underneath is not earth but sand.

It was definitely the best decision to discover the peninsula by bike!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Travelling is...

I tried to write down some thoughts on travelling, especially on travelling alone, like I prefere right now.

Travelling is...

... getting out of your comfort zone
... meeting new people
... trying something new
... experiencing the world as a whole, not country vs. country
... realising how small you really are
... discovering new ways of thinking
... solving problems on your own
... learning to ask people for help
... understanding different lifestyles
... finding out what really matters to you
... learning to make quick decisions
... freezing all problems (some will magically disappear!)
... discovering the beauty of your home
... understanding who you really are
... feeling alive

Monday, 3 August 2015


Riga is the biggest of the baltic capital cities, which you quickly realise when walking along. It is not as compact as in Tallinn and the walls around the old city are missing too. Still the inner city is easy to recognize because of it beautiful old buildings with high rooms and sometimes even small towers on the edges.

What’s really special about Riga is the narrow park around which probably used to be the moat. There is still a narrow „lake“ inbetween the green areas which is long enough you can do boat trips on it. Also, you can rent a rowing boat or pedal boat and explore the lake on your own.

Also, the market of Riga used to be the biggest in Europe. Today it is probably the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, but still the market of Riga is pretty big and you can easily get lost there because it does not only cover 4 big buildings (which used to be halls for building Zeppelins) but also the surrounding squares and streets. There you can buy fruits, fish, meat, spices, clothes, furniture, accessories, handcrafts and many more. What I liked most is that you can buy really tasty peas. After I discovered they sell huge peas here I started buying a big bag of peas everyday for dinner.
Directly next to the market is the academic tower with the best view over the old city of Riga.

From Riga, you can visit several other great places, and one of them is Sigulda, about an hour with the train (but remember, trains here stop like all the time and it takes a long time to get somewhere outside of the city). It is a town located on the edge oft he Gauja Nationalpark with lots of castles and manor houses. From the castle of Sigulda you can see Krimulda manor and Turaida castle on the other side of the valley of Gauja river. Unfortunately there is only one small wall left of Krimulda castle, the third within reach. Of course I visited them all and enjoyed the view of the tower of Turaida castle down the valley.

Just in the middle of the three castles there is the Gutmans cave, the biggest cave of Latvia that got known through a legend of two lovers from different castles who used to met there, but it ended deadly for the girl which is now known as „Rose of Turaida“.

On the other side of Riga, there is Jürmala, the beach region of Riga. Just behind the beach there are lots of impressing villas that are probably owned by the rich people of Latvia. The beach itself is really beautiful, but there are nearly no waves and you have to walk quite long until the water gets deep enough to swim. Also, it is quite uncommon here to have more than 25 degrees so for me it would be too cold for swimming. But spending the last evening in Latvia on the beach is still a pleasant experience.