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Sept. 9, 2017

Lithuania is the largest of the three Baltic states. (Estonia and Latvia are the other two.) It is about the size of W. VA and has a population of 2.8M. It is a republic with a female president. The currency is the Euro. While not the capital, Klaipeda is the third largest city and an important port. Lithuania was part of the Prussian empire until 1918 when it became independent. After WWII, it became part of the Soviet Union until the breakup in 1991. Lithuanians are fiercely proud of their country and its flag. Anyone with a house is required by law to fly the flag on national holidays or they will be fined.

We joined one of Oceania's tours which took us out to the Coronian Spit. This is a 60 mile long, thin peninsula a short ferry ride across the lagoon. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our destination was one of four fishing villages on the spit. Our first stop was a visit to the Hill of Witches. A trail winds through the woods and features 80 oak statues depicting legends and stories of Lithuanian Folklore. They include gods, witches, devils, and dragons. They were carved over a 3 year period starting in 1979 by 30 carpenters. We couldn't have asked for a better guide. She was a school teacher who with great animation and theatrics, brought the stories of the statues to life. To see a short video of one of her stories, click here.

After the 1.5 hour walk through the woods, we stopped at a weather vane gallery. During the 19th century, there were 133 villages on the spit. With so many fishermen vying for space on the lagoon, the Germans decided to require each boat to have a carving showing which village they were from and therefore where they were allowed to fish. Over the years, the vanes became fancier and depicted more information about the fisherman and his family. We were invited to rest in the back yard of the gallery and have a cup of amber tea, which is suppposed to cure everything!


We then went across the street to the Lutheran Church where one of the visiting pastors talked to us about the history of the German heritage in the area.

Before returning to Klaipeda, we walked over the sand dunes to the Baltic Sea where some stuck their toes in the water. This was a very nice day and a pleasant change from touring old towns, buildings and museums.



To view more photos from our visit to Klaipeda, please go to Klaipeda Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited, go to Berlin.

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