** Travels in a VW Camper 2012 ** 

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With the New-Year and thoughts turning to plans for 2012, we reflect happily on another successful year of camper-travels during 2011, this time in the three Baltic Republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. This 4 month trip again served to justify the objectives of our chosen travelling life-style: the opportunity to broaden our knowledge of hitherto unknown places; the pretext for researching the history, language and culture of different peoples; most importantly the privilege of meeting and befriending so many interesting folk during our travels; and finally, sharing our hard-won experiences with fellow-travellers through the medium of our web site.

 
Highlights of our 2011 travelling ventures included:
 

LITHUANIA:












 

  • walking the sand-cliffs of the Neringa Curonian Sandspit on the Western Lithuanian
    Baltic coastline
  • walking the ground at sites of yet more WW2 atrocities committed by Germans and their Lithuanian collaborators at the Kaunas Ninth Fort and the killing pits
    in the Paneriai forests near Vilnius
  • the privilege of the VIP welcome received during our visit to the Lithuanian Parliament, the Seimas, in Vilnius
  • peaceful evenings in camp watching the sun setting across the lakes of
    Eastern Lithuania
  • pine woodland walks above the lakes of Aukštaitija National Park
  • the hospitality shown to us at our visit to Ignalina nuclear power station, enabling an understanding of the social, political and economic
    consequences for Lithuania of the EU-enforced closure of the plant which had
    previously produced 75% of the country's energy needs
  • appreciating the religious and nationalistic significance of the Šiauliai Hill of Crosses
    for Lithuanians
  • the spine-chilling sensation of standing at the former Soviet Cold War
    missile-silo base deep in the forests of Plokštinė in the Žemaitija National Park

LATVIA:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

  • wandering among the decaying apartment blocks of the former Soviet naval base
    of Karosta near Liepāja with the gilded onion-domes and mosaic faįade of its
    Orthodox Cathedral
  • taking the ferry-boat ride around the docklands and oil terminals of Ventspils harbour past its ranks of dock-yard cranes
  • clambering around the superstructure of the former Soviet electronic eavesdropping
    radio-telescope at Irbene on the Kolka Baltic coast
  • visiting the now almost deserted Liv fishing villages along the North Kurzeme
     coastline, and Cape Kolka the northernmost tip of the Latvian coastline
  • sharing the celebration at Sabile's annual wine festival, home to the world's most northerly vineyard
  • standing in the plenary chamber of Saeima during our visit to the Latvian Parliament in Rīga
  • touring Rīga's restored art nouveau architectural treasures and viewing the city's
    magnificent skyline from the tower of St Peter's Church
  • standing at the memorial to Salaspils WW2 concentration camp near to Rīga
  • travelling along the valley of the Daugava River, for centuries Latvia's main transport corridor, homeland of Latvia's heroic hero Lačplēsis now marred by huge hydro-electric dams
  • walking the streets of Latvia's second city Daugavpils with its predominantly
    Russian population
  • driving down the rural back lanes of Latgale, Latvia's eastern province, past remote
    farmsteads, along the borderlands of Belarus and the Russian Federation
  • travelling the Gulbene~Alūksne narrow gauge railway through the unending forest and all the isolated hamlets between the 2 North Latvian towns
  • descending into the grotesque Cold War top-secret underground bunker-complex at Ligatne, built as a control centre for Soviet-Latvia in the event of nuclear war
  • exploring the forest paths and medieval castles of the Gauja National Park

ESTONIA:


 





 

 

 

 

 


 


 

  • standing on the rim of the 5,500 year old meteorite crater at Kaali  and seeing the group of post-windmills at Angla on the island of Saaremaa
  • gazing out across the Baltic on the northern coast of Hiiumaa island by the memorial to the ferry Estonia sunk by storms here in 1993
  • standing in the plenary chamber of the Riigikogu, the Estonian Parliament, in Tallinn
    during our visit to Toompea Castle
  • looking out across the medieval town walls and roof-tops of Tallinn
  • standing on the grassy slopes of Tallinn's Song Festival Grounds and sensing
    the emotive appeal for Estonians of this special place
  • understanding the economic importance for Estonia of the oil shale industry with visits to the Kohtla-Nõmme mining museum and the refineries of Kohtla-Järve
  • seeing the Stalinist era architecture at the former Soviet uranium processing town of Sillamäe
  • looking from the tower of Narva Castle over the Freedom Bridge Russian frontier and Russian Ivangorad Fortress at the border town of Narva
  • visiting the Russian Orthodox Old Believers' villages and looking out across sea-like
    breadth of Lake Peipsi
  • nervously driving through the Saatse Boot salient of Russian territory projecting into Estonia's far SE corner, the land of Setumaa
  • listening to the eerie polyphonic chanting of a Setu women's traditional choir at Obinitsa
  • learning the moving history of the Estonian national flag at the Otepää Flag Museum
  • visiting the University of Tartu in Estonia's second city
  • seeing dawn come up across the still waters of Lake Võrtsjarv from our lake-side camp
  • walking the 5km long board-walk across the Riisa Bogland Trail in Soomaa National Park and photographing insectivorous Sundew plants
  • learning of Lydia Koidula, Estonia's national poet at the museum in Pärnu devoted to
    her life and work








 

To the people of Lithuania we express the warmest Labai ačiū, to all in Latvia Liels paldies, and to those in Estonia Tänan väga
 for all the hospitality we received during our stay in your countries over the last 4 months

Our 2011 travels have again added immeasurably to our continuingly cumulative stock of knowledge of people, things and places. We have been privileged to meet along the way some delightfully empathetic fellow travellers with whom to share experiences.

To these and all our other friends, we send greetings for a
HAPPY & FULFILLING 2012

Do take this opportunity to visit the collection of webs published during our 2011 trip to the Baltic Republics:
 

Baltic Republics - 2011

        And view our Campsite Reviews Pages:  Campsite Reviews and Travel Tips

In the meantime, enjoy the delightfully English ** Hunsdon House ** from the Dancing Master by John Playford (1623~1686):

Sorry your browser is not set to play the music, but do hope you enjoy the site
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Sheila and Paul

January 2012

   Baltic States 2011   Poland 2010   Czech Republic 2009   Sardinia~Corsica 2009    Slovakia 2008   Croatia 2008

       Denmark 2007

   Sicily 2007   Alsace 2006

  Greece 2006

  Hungary 2005

  Pyrenees 2005

  Slovenia 2004

  Greece 2004

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