Lithuanian info: off the beaten tracks
Note: the information below is based on personal experience. The places and the objects are unmarked on the maps.
WHAT TO SEE
1. Vilnius – The monument for the Soviet-Afghanistan war victims on the intersection of S. Zukausko str. and Zygio str. at Siaures Miestelis (Northern Town, part of Zhirmunai district, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%BDirm%C5%ABnai
) - a modern sculpture (created in very lithuanian style) in a neat modern area, http://www.afganai.lt/nuotraukos/image/137
The site where 2,000 bodies of Napoleon's Army soldiers were found is nearby (Discovery Channel series "Moments In Time", episode "Napoleon's Lost Army").
2. Vilnius – a sculpture „Motherhood“ in a courtyard of a maternity hospital – Antakalnis district, trolleybuses No. 2, 3, 4, 14, 19, direction "Antakalnis" or "Sauletekis", the stop "Klinikos", walk back along the fence, enter the gate and look at left. A stunning granite statue of a pregnant woman. Genuine hidden gem.
3.Lukishkes Prison (built in 19th century) near the Parliament and Gedimino av. in Vilnius center – it will be transfered to another place within a couple of years, and the buildings will be sold: static.flickr.com/47/136429464_eea56bf091.jpg
4.Medininkai fortress near Vilnius, burned out by crusaders and since then stand "as it is" (see another topic "Lithuanian info: Fortifications").
5.Kaunas' forts, built in 19th century by Tzar's government (see another topic "Lithuanian info: Fortifications")
6.Unfinished Polish defence fortifications built in Vilnius before WWII expecting Soviet attack (see another topic "Lithuanian info: Fortifications").
7.German fortifications built near Giruliai, Klaipeda county, before WWII against Soviet Union (see another topic "Lithuanian info: Fortifications").
8.Molotov Defence Line's bunkers, built expecting Nazi attack, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molotov_Line
(for details see another topic "Lithuanian info: Fortifications")
4.Plokshtine military base, see photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missile_silo
(more info on another topic "Lithuanian info: Fortifications")
5.Karmelava military base of nuclear ballistic missiles SS-20, closed at 1988, left at 1993 "as it is" (see another topic "Lithuanian info: Fortifications").
6.Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (situated near Visaginas town), will be closed within few years because of the Lithuania's obligations. Excursions are possible on wekdays. Excursions to the reactor itself were ceased since 2001. The website:http://www.iae.lt/infocenter_en.asp?lang=1&sub=12
WHAT TO DO
1.For the outdoor activities consider the Lithuanian areas marked on the maps as National Parks and Regional Parks. To set yourself in a right direction - look at this map: http://www.info.lt/parkai/images/parkai.jpg
2.The bicycle route along the Baltic sea: litwatravel.com/docs/139.guideEN_0215-1.pdf
3.The best area for canoeing – Aukshtaitija National Park and the Woods Of Labanoras, so your first destination should be Vilnius – Ignalina, then Palushe, or any other desirable place.
4.Well preserved ancient villages among the woods – Dzukija National Park. Whilst there - ask unofficially for "samane", "traditional" and illegal lithuanian vodka. Better than cognac. Tested and proven. One may try to ask at the tourist office, if there is no other way.
5.The adventure park "Lokes peda" (Female Bear Foot), same as the other ones in the western countries, but the prices are local: www.lokespeda.lt/index.php?page=about-us
1.Forests, swamps, rivers, lakes, sand dunes. No mountains, no real caves, no cliffs.
2.Three largest and most interesting swamps: Kamanos near Latvian border, Chepkeliai near Belarussian border and Aukshtumala near Curonian Lagoon. Tourism is forbidden. Visiting only accompanied by the guide. Contact any tourist office first for detailed info.
3.Jurassic exposure in Papile town (location - http://lt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papil%C4%97
There are 3 similar ones in Europe.
Venta Regional Park map: www.ventosparkas.lt/index.php?LID=0&TID=103
Generally, the place is excellent for camping, hiking, bicycling, motorcycling and canoeing. Untouched nature, spacious landscape, tranquility, no tourist infrastructure, no tourists, and humans as such are rare too. Good road between Siauliai and Mazeikiai (via Papile), but the public transport is complicated. One should be flexible in time. The place is some sort of the edge of he world, so to say. Latvian border is close, but no border crossings there, no roads to Latvia itself. Civilization is somewhere else around. Take a tent, sleeping bag and mat, unless you know in advance where to stay. A trip by car from Vilnius to Papile (some exploration of surroundings) and back to Vilnius would take a whole day. Not enough time for camping. Reasonable local route for a short trip – Papile -> Telsiai direction, or Papile -> Akmene direction.
Also this town is a good example of rather well preserved, cosy, nice rural town set in a beautiful landscape, it is like a dream of those American Lithuanians of the older generation who constantly were talking about their beautiful native country, but when they arrived – they found nothing.
Some other photos: www.travel.lt/turizmas/selectPage.do…
More photos: www.ventosparkas.lt/index.php?LID=0&TID=121
Accommodation - „Virvyte“ Guest House near Vieksniai village (should rent bikes and boats too): http://www.virvyte.lt/index.php?id=7
Keep in mind, that they don't expect unexpected foreign visitors. Locals are rather shy, calm, and speak either samogitian or lithuanian with strong samogitian accent (if you learned basics of lith. language – it won't help). Knowledge of latvian, russian and polish may be helpful.
For those who suddenly need some outdoor gear/clothing, but don't want to waste the money for the fashionable but poor stuff at city's stores – visit www.arsenal.lt, click british flag, then click „contacts“ for the shop addresses. Gore-tex, Nomex, "digital" camo available. Splendid quality for the normal price.