Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Sprint Across the Baltics.

Somehow, someway, somewhere in our trip planning, Briana and I thought that it would be a great idea to do all of the Baltics in three days. 

I think it went something like this: 

M: "Do you want to visit the Baltics?"
B: "Of course I want to visit the Baltics."
M: "Me, too. So it looks like we have to be in Russia by the end of July . . . so based on our other travel plans [which, by the way, at this point included Sarajevo . . . yeah, didn't happen this time around], we'll have about three days to do the Baltics." 
B: "Hmm, can we do it?"
M: "Oh, we can totally do it. Let's book a plane from Kyiv to Vilnius right now." 
B: "Okay, let's do it." 

Something like that. Or it might have looked less planned out and more like this: 

B: "The Baltics?"
M: "You know it." 
B: "Great. We have three days." 
M: "Cool. Let's go." 

In any event, we ended up sprinting across the Baltics. 

First Lithuania, then Latvia, and finally Estonia. 

Vilnius, Lithuania: 

[Oops. My thumb wanted to be in this picture, too.]

Riga, Latvia: 

[Loved, loved, loved these streets.]

[Old Town.]

[I really liked Riga. A lot, a lot.]

[So usually, dirty water just looks gross. But this looks like some version of the chocolate river in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. In other words, it looks magical and pretty.]

[Monument to Freedom and Fatherland. We tried to figure out what it said on the monument and were making guesses (because Latvian is a crazy-ridiculous language), but we were totally wrong. Google Translate taught us what it really said.]

["Don't jump. I love you."]

Tallinn, Estonia: 

[Entrance to Old Town.]

[The doors in Tallinn were really cool, too.]

[Case in point.]

[German architecture and Russian cathedrals.]

[What a view.]

[My aunt served a mission in the Baltics and she told me about the best blini restuarant there called Kompressors. And man alive, those blinis were goooood. However, I didn't realize how big they were going to be, so I got two of them--a sweet and a savoury. Oops. They were huge. Hurray for take-away.]

[Again, that view is just stunning.]

[Ominous much? Les Miserables much? Adele much? *Let me phooootograph you in this light . . .*]

The Baltics are fascinating. You can definitely tell that they are trying to wash clean of Soviet (and German) occupation. They feel more European than Ukraine or Russia (and Estonia feels like a Nordic cousin). Their languages are old. Very old. So are their city centres, which were all lovely. I'd like to go back and visit not just the capital cities, but the towns in the country and the coasts . . . the Baltics definitely have an important story to tell. 

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