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Old 02-28-2005, 07:36 AM   #1
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My roomie is Lith, she barely speaks any english so I had a hard time getting details about this. The other day she was fixing herself up in front of the mirror, singing a gorgeous song in lithuanian. I asked her about it. Apparently there is a town on the edge of the Baltic Sea, and around midsummer's eve people come from all over eastern europe to celebrate the sea's birthday. Does anyone know what town this is, or anything about it? She says the city is 200,000 people but during the festivals its something like a million. Sounds incredible...
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Old 02-28-2005, 10:34 AM   #2
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Damn...I bet there are a hell of a lot of candles on that cake!
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Old 02-28-2005, 11:26 AM   #3
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Sounds great! I couldn't find anything about it, but I think Lithuania, Estonia & the Baltics in general would be worth going to, festival or not. I keep seeing pictures of places like Talinn and can't imagine how incredible it'd be to see the place in person... Hrmm.. anyone know how to get there cheap from the US?
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Old 03-03-2005, 11:37 PM   #4
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Does anyone know what town this is, or anything about it?
Ask your roomie if the town is Palanga. That's the big summer resort here. Could also be Nida or Klaipeda, but from your description it sounds like Palanga. There are lots of summer resorts on the Baltic Coast, and they are seriously popular during July and August. Absolutely stunning in the off-season, but you won't want to go in the water then! Brrr! The sea goddess is Jurate, and there's a great myth about her. She fell in love with a human man, and the sea god was so furious he killed the boy. Her tears are the amber that is still washed up on the beaches after every storm. More generally, midsummer, or St. John's night is one of the major deals here, the deeply rooted pagan traditions get free reign and there are bonfires, dancing, songs, and basically three nights of partying.

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I keep seeing pictures of places like Talinn and can't imagine how incredible it'd be to see the place in person... Hrmm.. anyone know how to get there cheap from the US?
Oh, and it is! The three capitals are surprisingly different from one another, considering how close they are together, too. So you can go from a medieval walled city (Tallinn) to a typically German Hanseatic port(Riga) to a Italianate baroque delight (Vilnius - I live here and love it, I'm admittedly biased!) within a 12 hour drive. And the countryside and cultures are also widely different. Definitely worth as much time as you can give it. And more.

Getting here is a bit trickier, but there are a couple of options. If you come in the off-season (pack warm clothes!) check for specials on SAS. They fly from a couple of different hubs in the US, (Seattle, New York, Chicago I think, and some others). The best deals we've ever found are two-for-one fares, which are great if you can travel with someone else, but they're usually around $700 or so. They usually connect in Copenhagen, sometimes a different SAS European centre, depending on which hub.

A tour company that specializes in Baltic travel and offers the best prices we've found is Vytis Tours in New York. I think there are some good options in Chicago, as well (that's the main centre of the Lithuanian diaspora in the States) but I can't recommend any based on experience.

Once you're in Europe, the best way to fly here are on Ryanair to Riga. From there you can catch a bus to either Vilnius or Tallinn, the fare to Vilnius is about $14 US. At the moment the Ryanair fare to Riga from select places is a whopping, "free", so that's probably the best you'll get...

Train isn't such a great option, it's slow and awkward, but you can do it if you really want. It's also cheap to travel by bus from Warsaw or Gdansk, but if you do this, be forewarned: we made the 13 hour overnight journey on a crowded bus with four little kids, and NO TOILET. They did stop a few times, but once was just out in the woods - in July, the mosquitoes were thrilled to see us; I wouldn't want to make that particular pitstop in winter...

There are tons of festivals year round in the region, I only know the Lithuanian selection, but you can count on similar ones throughout the region. Today is the start of the spring market fair, St. Kasimir's Day, later this month, Easter. We've talked about midsummer, there are also music festivals throughout the country throughout the summer. In the fall there is another market fair, and then there is the hauntingly beautiful All Saints Day, when families go to tend the graves of their ancestors. They light candles, and by sundown, the countryside is gleaming with thousands of tiny flickering lights, it's spectacular. Christmas has its own ancient customs, and there are special concerts, markets, etc throughout the season. Then there is a Mardi Gras type festival, called Uzgavines, with the caveat that the weather here isn't like in New Orleans or Brazil! There are any number of regional festivals, horse races on frozen lakes, the sea festival in June, celebrations of local saints, etc. etc. The tourist office puts out a great publication listing many of the major events and some of the smaller ones throughout the country. Lithuanians are very proud of their heritage, and celebrate it vigorously.

We'll be here for a few more months, so feel free to ask for specifics and I can get on the ground info for you!
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Old 03-04-2005, 01:10 AM   #5
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Holy $#!+, Tumble, that's a lot of great information!
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Old 03-07-2005, 06:13 AM   #6
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I know, I tend to ramble on...
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Old 03-08-2005, 09:12 AM   #7
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Wow, thats incredible! It is indeed Palanga, too bad we have such a big language problem, I bet she could tell me all kinds of things like that.. I love that stuff, the amber tears, so forth.. wow... now I really must go.


by the way I think my roomate is certifiably insane.
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Old 03-10-2005, 03:40 AM   #8
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She probably tells her friends the same thing!
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Old 05-02-2005, 11:09 AM   #9
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tumblezweedz how is it that you live there? Where you born there?

Also this festival sounds so interesting I would love to see it
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Old 05-04-2005, 03:46 AM   #10
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My husband is just finishing up his Masters degree at the University of Vilnius. He had a two year scholarship to study and travel here, for the whole family. It's pretty much the best possible job in the whole world, except he doesn't feel like he speaks Lithuanian very well (ie. he didn't become fluent in two years). Neither of us has any family or background here, we just put it on our list of possible places and the scholarship board sent us here.

Just got a new babysitter, who's from Palanga also, so if you want more info about the town or festival I can ask her. We haven't got out there ourselves, though we've seen most of the rest of the country. Hopefully we'll get a chance to visit before we leave here this summer.
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Old 05-04-2005, 08:11 PM   #11
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Wow, that sounds so awesome. and somewhat off the beaten track. I love to see old pagan things.
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Old 08-14-2005, 04:32 PM   #12
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WOW!!! I know how old this is, but in Ireland i have made a lot of Estonian friends. Never heard of the country before and now I know what you are talking about Omi.
My very good friend Dyana is from Tallinn and i may be going home with her in October!!!
How crazy is that!!
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Old 08-18-2005, 10:36 AM   #13
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There are tons of people from the Baltic States in Ireland - there's even a Lithuanian food store somewhere that we saw featured on tv one night. If you can possibly go to Tallinn with Dyana, don't miss it - it's a beautiful place, quite different from Vilnius in architecture and setting and all. Also, Estonians are notoriously reserved, so if you can go with a local you'll have a totally different experience than you would as a tourist with no local friends. Well, you'll probably talk to Estonians, for a start! Enjoy (and bring warm clothes in October!)
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Old 08-21-2005, 04:16 PM   #14
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well my friend was going to go home if she got a visa to the states to come back home with me. Well she didn't get her visa so we are going to try again in the summer. That is when I am planning on going to visit her. A little longer wait but nicer weather so i'll be ok!!!
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