16 November 2009
It all began with an intense talk the night before about the role of religion and faith in humanity and in the world. It was heated. It was engaging. It apparently doomed us.
The next morning started off fine. We left almost on time, we reached our first destination - the Hill of Crosses - in good time and the clouds even seemed to “part” while we were there. After a delectable picnic lunch we headed west for the coast. Just seconds into the drive it started POURING rain. Visibility slipped to about ten feet. Fortunately I wasn’t driving, which meant nap time in the back seat while Matt and Nigel dealt with the bad weather and insane Lithuanian drivers.
We pit-stopped for gas and a bathroom break somewhere between Creepy-ville and Spooky-town. Save for a few truck drivers, a squatter toilet and the lovely man drinking vodka and smoking a cigarette behind the counter it was just like every other gas station I have ever been to.
Westward-ho and we arrive at the ferry terminal just as the other cars are exiting. “Perfect timing!” I scream. “We’ll be just in time to see the sunset from the island!” Wrong. Forty minutes later it’s our turn to board. Now, having had very little stick-shift experience Matt and I were both a bit weary about hurtling the car up a wet metal ramp set at a 30-degree angle in drizzling rain with cars in front of us and behind us. Things just got worse from here. We stalled the care NINE TIMES before Chris - a manual transmission pro - slid into the driver’s seat and zipped us right up and on.
Across we went on our 4-minute ferry ride (seriously) followed by a mad dash to the coastline where we took in one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen before heading directly south to our evening destination of Nida - a beachside resort town. Just miles from arrival a deer appears out of nowhere and BOOM, just like that his body hurtles into the car in front of us. Fortunately we were traveling at a safe distance but it still shook us up. Nigel got out to assess the situation. The deer had miraculously hopped into the forest and the front of the guy’s car was completely damage free.
Now with that on our minds we arrived to town to find EVERYTHING (save for the grocery store) dark and closed. I checked my watch, It was 7:30pm. After stopping at every hotel on the tourist info center’s list we resigned ourselves to the possibility that we just might have to sleep in the car. Fortunately, the wonderful waitress at the only restaurant that was open directed us to an apparently super secret hotel nestled back behind the street and surrounded by forest. We checked in as THE ONLY GUESTS IN THE ENTIRE 100-room hotel and after running through every possible bad hotel pun (“you check in...but you don’t check out!”) we went for dinner at the same and only restaurant in town before calling it a night.
What. A. Day.