Running hot and cold (and hot again) travel blog

Pipe organ st johns

Trakai castle

The dude whose castle it was

How amazing is the architecture?

People who knew the KGB too well

Today we all started our day by flooding our bathroom floors. Our shower doors needed to be shut intentionally rather than just let them seem shut. I had a small flood, the boys a bigger flood and Steve tells me that he overflowed the basin which instead of going down the overflow hole and into a pipe it overflows straight out the little hole onto the floor. He didn't have a shower door either so his bathroom must have been floating.

So we are all going to be more careful tomorrow.

We saw some of the seedier side of the city last night. Some seriously homeless people. Straight out of Les Mis... Jackets on jackets, fingerless gloves, matted hair, beards, filthy.. Some very drunk, some perhaps mentally unwell.

Speaking of drunks... Have I.... Told you about Ted?

Yesterday for lunch we all had tea and coffee... He had two beers. Then he made a joke that he was going to drink his leftover stubby in the fridge for breakfast but decided to pack it instead for the bus. I think I told you when we were on our sightseeing bit in the am he kept nicking off for a beer? So when he's had a few he starts telling Rita how to do her job. Seriously he shouldn't be here. Every time we see them in the street, he's more than half full, and she is merry. Seems they both like to have a few.

We started the day by backing out of our hotel driveway onto the city's main road and drove on to the St. Peter and Paul church. It's all white stucco inside. It's pretty awe inspiring. The boys said he refused to go inside. I think he's in the wrong country to refuse to go into a church. The places we are going are full of them.

The guide who was beautifully blonde and very attractive but with a very flat wide face told us they were Christianised in 1387, and were again prior, but they latched onto Christianity quite fiercely. Hence the number and decoration of the churches. Many are sort of private churches belonging or did belong to dukes and other titled or wealthy people.

From there we did a tour of the old town and outside the presidents palace we saw the armed forces changing the guard. Dunno how many is in a platoon but a bus full of them hopped out, lined up and marched off it was great. We checked out some other churches, one of the most beautiful inside was St. John's at the uni, but the winner for the most beautiful outside goes to st Anne's.

We saw an amber museum read shopping opportunity, and some people tasted amber alcohol which is supposed to cure just about anything.. Of course it tasted like shit. The young woman said it tasted like cough medicine but I could see the faces so I passed. Given the exhaustive list on the wall didn't include mouth ulcer, pimple in unfortunate place and broken ribs I figured nothing was lost. On the other hand if I'd had stomach or lung pus I would have joined in, and been cured or do the wall plaque indicated. Escaping with wallets intact, and only minimal aggravation from being penned in underground in a tiny room by way way too many Japanese and South American tourists we continued on stopping at panoramic spot for photos and then off to the castle of trakai. We enjoyed the local food... A little pastie and chicken broth before heading off for a tour of the castle built in the 1300's some time. It's been significantly restored, David thinks over restored. But it was really good and you could go into many of the rooms. It was 3 storeys high. Quite amazing for how old it is. It had a drawbridge and a moat. It was my first real castle so I was impressed. David kept say it was a 'carstle'. I say castle. He kept on and on about it, including asking the guide who obviously was Lithuanian and was saying castle. When he asked her she thought he was having a go at her accent and said, 'it's carstle... If you say so'.. Later she came up to me and I said, don't worry he was having a go at me, not you..... She said ' I think its castle. It's how it's spelt and how it's said'.... So there David! I bought Kelly a felt hat at a stall on the way back to the bus, and at the stall next door we saw a little dog wearing a purple parka, same as it's owner. It was a fair dinkum parka complete with a hood. I think I've seen everything now.

It was warm in the sun, but really cold in the shade. We have expected rain for a few days but haven't had any yet, we've been really really lucky with beautiful days, warm even if not for many hours. The mornings and evenings are cold... But same as Hobart. After trakai we went back to the city via the KGB museum where David, Kevin and Libby got out. I'm glad I didn't go as it sounded fairly confronting when Kevin told me about it. Lots of torture methods, an execution room and a Shute for dispatching the bodies, a padded cell, and all the known names engraved into the tiles of the buildings outside. Way past awful what humans do to each other, I would like to think we don't do it any more but you only have to hear the news to hear of genocide going on in so many places.

I waited till we got back to the hotel and trotted around to a nail joint I'd seen the previous night. Using bad gesturing and their very poor English we negotiated together to get my nails done as some were broken, others chipped. I had to wait half an hour so I went and ordered coffee, then realised I had no cash as I used the last of it buying Kelly a felt hat. Luckily I could use a card or I would have been very embarrassed.

The girl in the salon was clearly talking about me most if the time I was there however to cut a long story short she did a brilliant job. My nails are mended, and look great. It was the same cost as home, but I gave her a tip in $US because she fitted me in and it wasn't easy trying to make an agreement about what we were going to do. Goodness only knows what is on my nails. I did keep saying shellac but who actually knows.

I caught back up with the boys in the lobby where they told me they'd seen me and had been peering through the window at me. Any wonder the ladies had been laughing at me... Well maybe that was some of the reason. We made a plan to swap currencies ready for tomorrow. Never happy was there too and she'd already tried a couple of times but the exchange had been closed both times she'd tried. When we got there neurotic was there already. Fair dinkum she just stands around shaking with agitation. It is awful to watch. It was open, so she went in first. She seemed to make the lady behind the counter agitated as well and angry. After an exchange of sorts she came out with some zloty and some lit money. Kevin went in and got 100 zloty and the rest was back in Lits as well. When I tried all zloty was gone. She was really pissed off and just waved her arms around. So wandering away we made a new plan to try the bank. Across the road, and at about 5:05 we discovered it closed at 5:00. No new plan emerged so we wandered down the store filling in time before dinner. We tried a frozen yogurt using up some of Kevin's left over Lits as they were now basically useless. Wandered a bit more and crashed into Alan who was looking for the pub with 'live beer'. He had a map and had been given the name of the joint and a bit marked on the map. We went with him a bit to help or not... And followed a trail back to the old city, up and down little streets, checking names of buildings, businesses and streets.

Eventually we ended up back at an intersection where it looked like we should have been on top of the circled bit. The information kiosk was right there so Alan went back and asked.... Have you worked it out yet? Kevin and I did while Alan was talking to the man. The guy had circled where he was... The info kiosk... Not where the live beer was! So 45 minutes wasted and we slowly walked back and found it on the street not far from our hotel. We left Alan there and walked back to meet Libby for dinner.

We had two reasons to eat with Libby. The previous day she had lent neurotic Lynne her very special pen and never got it back. And then when asked this am Lynne said she didn't have it and tried to give her a bic. Libby was beside herself. On top of that the group had ripped her off over dinner last night with the bill. She needed a rest from them or was going to explode. Secondly, I'd shouted her a couple of meals and now I was out of Lits she was going to pay me back. We tried to go to the traditional potato restaurant but it appeared shut. It was down a little set of stairs in a bit of an airlock. We kind of stood there a bit hopeless looking and another group came and asked us about it. Libby said it's locked. Their sign was on though... They were a little surprised as they had a booking. We were just about to walk off when another couple came and headed down the stairs and gave a door a huge wrench. It opened. So in they went, then the other group, and when we tried again we gave it a good pull as well. We were in... Assaulted by the hot stinking toilet smell as we entered was not the best recommendation to proceed but not to be deterred we journeyed on. It seemed to be a rabbit warren of rooms, cavernous, and maybe even under our hotel. Indeed there was a live black rabbit in a huge glass 'cage' in there.

So we were in the middle of implementing our plan when Libby announced she only had 80 Lits for he two of us. It's about $26 au. So now I'm thinking. Shit, what am I going to choose when she is ordering a big meal and wine for herself, when David announces that we need Lits for lunch. Kevin and I looked at each other and looked at him.... The arrangement we thought was that they would use their card for dinner, Libby and I would use her cash up, and tomorrow we would all manage with the few zlotys we had between us. And now here was David sitting here telling us we needed Lits and we had committed to spending all we had with no way of getting more. I said .... WHAT?? Yes he said... I said... WHAT?? Followed quickly by why did you let Kevin change all his Lits for zlotys except for 10, and then be part of buying frozen yogurt spending the little bit of shrapnel when you knew we needed them? I was incredulous because he had been saying all afternoon how easy it all is, and none of it is a problem but that's because he isn't doing any of it, Kevin and I do it. Clearly Kevin does theirs, and I do mine, but it is a bother to be constantly managing the conversions, not running out, not having too much over, little money for change, tips toilets etc. It's not a problem when it's just handed to you! So we cogitated and a new plan emerged... One vocalised one not. I would put it all on my card and Kevin would get more Lits out and give me their half in Lits. Then we would all have Lits. Libby would save hers until tomorrow and she would shout me when we needed zloty. The other plan was that I would stab David with a fork.

Problem solved... Our meals were fine... Kevin's Kiev was the pick of that lot. Mine was potato dumplings with what ended up being a carbonara sauce not quite what I thought. The 'dumplings' were boiled and then fried. They were kind of like Chinese fortune cookies in taste and texture. Glad I tried it, don't need to eat it again.. Totally ok, I liked it but nothing special. Sweets were a bit hit and miss. David had Apple pie... Mostly pie not a lot of Apple... Libby had apple pancakes which were huge and just ok.. The pancakes were very light and nice but the filling was a bit stodgy.. Mine was curd pancakes with mashed strawberry and sour cream. It looked like a creamy lemon filling, but it turned out to be slightly sweetened cottage cheese with strawberry purée. It was ok but I don't need to eat that again either. There were 4 six inch crepes to be eaten of that stuff. I paid the bill by card only to find I could have used euro. I burst out laughing because we all could have done that and we would have been happy to do it, as our euro are useless for the rest of the trip and I still have 200 of them.. Thanks Lynne! Getting out was as much a problem as getting in. The door seemed sealed shut. I ended up shouldering it open. I got it right after a couple of goes, as although I could get it open it quickly shut itself again. Fair dinkum it was like vacuum sealed I really had to put all my weight to it.. As you know that's a fair bit right now. It was a very heavy door and I think it was just the way it was in that little airlock.

Off to do the high finance money swaps and the supermarket for more of the Mozart ball chocolates for Steve as we had kept forgetting to tell him and now it was too late. He had introduced us to them at the duty free at the Russian/Estonian border. He offered them around, they seemed full of praline. He said they weren't as good as the ones with marzipan.. We had bought some on the first night in Lithuania and ours had it. The packets all looked the same as the ones he had so we weren't sure what we were getting but what the hell. So because we forgot to tell him, and didn't know how to tell him at this hour we thought we'd just get some for him and if he didn't want them no harm done.

They have trams, buses and trolley cars here. Some of the trams are doubles. There are three kinds. Like a tow rope, like a caravan coupling or the old concertina contraption like home.

A cup of tea in my room to debrief the day and an early night to get ready for an early start.

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