Rotel Tour 306

Tuesday 22nd July

The greatest distance today was covered on the motorway. It was really very respectable but only near Mariampole did it have more that 1 lane each way. We pssed many unfenced fields supporting tethered black and white cows. some groups were laying down, some standing up. We came to the conclusion that they knew from experience when to expect a shower of rain, several of which occurred before the weather cleared to a sunny day with a fresh sea breeze in the afternoon. We saw many storks foraging in the lush green knee high grass in the fields. It is no wonder that they fly here to have their young at this time of the year. When we stopped for fuel we spoke to a stubble-faced Chechnian Russian delivering a super luxury double-decker french tourist coach to Vilnius. Speaking german he said that his cousin had bought it to operate as a tourist bus in Vilnius.

In Silute Camilla and I chatted to an old lady with a very rusty bike who spoke perfect german and had escaped transportation by the Russians during the occupation when she broke out of a wagon to find drinking water and the train moved off without her.

We made a group ride of 20km on roads only moderately quiet then a gravel track through a swamp to a viewing tower passing canals and small private motor boats. There were twenty of us in a long column trying to leave gaps for passing traffic. None of us knew were we were going just follow the Reiseführer in front. We reboarded the bus for the short run to the Ventaine camping ground right on the shore of the Kurisches Haff.

Wednesday 23nd July Vente to Nida

The Ventaine camping ground was not overcrowded. Good clean but limited ablution facilities. I rose at 06h00 to avoid queuing. After a lovely warm shower I strolled along the road and 500 metres south of the camping ground I came across a local woman dressed in a long black skirt, red long sleeved shirt and a headscarf. She was carrying a 10 litre plastic bucket, a 600mm square of white plastic and a piece of cheesecloth. She approached her cow which was tethered close to the side of the road. The cow displayed an amazing display of pleasure and greeting. It waved the head, wagged the tail and shuffled from one foot to the other. The woman had a quick word with the animal then knelt at the business end on the plastic square with the bucket clamped between her knees. She stretched the cloth over the bucket and proceeded to draw milk. After a minute she stood up, went to the front and spoke again to the cow. She then returned to the business end and drew milk for another minute. Unfortunately I did not have the camera with me.

breakfast time

After breakfast we saddled up and rode the one km. to the south where at the Vente lighthouse (small 1837 brick building) there is an institute for observing , catching and ringing migratory birds. Only three small fixed netting traps are in use at this time of the year but the steel towers for the larger traps stood bare to show the scale of the effort here. we were shown over the installation by an old ranger who speaks broken German. We then rode the Eurovelo bike route 10 north partly on coarse gravel track through thick woodland to Lankupiai. We reboarded the bus to Klaipeda where we spent a two hour visit south of the river mostly in the old town trying to buy postcards and postage stamps. We took the bus over on the vehicle ferry to the Curonian Spit and then on to the camping ground at Nida with a break with a 1 hour walk around the woodcarvings for fishermen and forlorn wives at Palanga.

Nida Camping Ground
Nida Camping Ground

The camping ground is very popular and crowded. Groups from all over Europe are camped here. Driver Fabian squeezed the Rotel into a very small reserved space with trees virtually touching each side of the rig.

Thursday 24nd July

We had Onion soup last night with a glass of Vodka. The after effects were very noticeable this morning. Most of the visitors in this camping ground seem to be Germans but there is a minority of Russian speakers and Lithuanians present. No apparent English. There is a large toilet block with strange automatic, proximity switched showers. I found them difficult to control. Perhaps some require maintenance. I tried several. This morning we rode as a group to the extensive wander dunes south of Nida where we climbed a long wooden staircase to the top for an overview of the area. We apoke up there to two 25 year old blokes who had cycled all the way from Leipzig. They had come via Kaliiningrad and were going on to Leningrad and from there directly home. They said that they had all learned compulsory russian in school.

We were free from midday. C. visited grocer. Eventually we found a public toilet consisting of a couple of temporary units with a row of cross-legged females waiting outside. we rode back to the camping ground a little uncertain of direction but found the way with no problem. The bus was locked up so we locked the bikes alongside and walked to the beach. We found a sign "Nuidas Plazas" which seemed like Nude Beach and that proved to be the case with many further explicit signs for female nudes, family nudes or fully clothed etc. The sand was very clean and closely comparable with Australia. The water was cold but acceptable, the beach gradient very shallow. The water struck one immediately as fresh when swimming. It was not nearly as clear as at home but quite acceptably clean.

The beach at Nida
The beach at Nida