Sunday  Dateicon  6.8.2015  Globeicon  Countries:19  Tigericon  508km Total:8016km

I didn't think it would but I does feel good to be back on the bike, I make my way out of Warszaw without any misshaps and despite the lack of any major highways I'm chomping through the kilometers at a nice pace.

I didn't have any reason to doublecheck the GPS when the distance correlated well with what I got from google maps last night.
However I did get a bit concerned in the afternoon when suddely a majority of the cars had the BY (Belarus) national sticker on them so I stop to check.
That right, I'm headed straight for the Belarus border and I am now just 20kms from it, I would need a Visa to enter Belarus which I don't have so that would have been a pretty time consuming "shortcut".

I would have obviosly realized something was wrong when I got there since I was travelling between EU countries and didn't expect a manned border crossing but still, making a sudden u-turn at the border seems like a good way to get a border cop on your tail so I'd rather not.
I input the Polish town of Augustow in the GPS to get the right bearing on the Polish/Lithuanian border and suddenly things got a lot more interesting.

About 10km of this road went trough some kind of nature reserve on cobblestone, it's lucky that tiggers are so bouncy and that it didn't rain.
No more have a gotten on a major road again when it gets redirected into pure deliverance territory. The signs are non existent and the road just gets narrower and narrower until it's a singletrack (still asphalt though) and everyone I meet seem to have murky DNA.
By now I can only conclude that I must have missed the sign redirecting back to the main road.
I take a gamble and turn left onto the first road leading in the right direction and it starts out ok with a nice gravel track but it gradually deteriorates into more of a logging road and then turns into sand.

Now sand is definitely not my surface of choice but the "road" is still going in the right general direction and what's really the worst that could happen?
Probably the bike going down in the sand and me landing in a cow pat and what's that compared to bottomless canyons and freaking landmines?
I go.
I manage to make my way through and get out on the same exact road I just left just 500 meters before it redirects onto the main road.
What a great shortcut that was.

When I see a sign saying kebab by the side of the road I realize how hungry I am, it 4PM and I haven't eaten lunch yet.
First day travelling solo and I'm already skipping meals, that's not a good sign.
I wolf down a pretty decent king-size kebab and cross the deserted border crossing into Lithuania just five minutes later.

The rest of the ride into Vilnius is completely uneventful.
As soon as I've parked the bike outside the hotel I'm approached by a group of English speaking Germans who ask tons of questions about the bike and my trip and they where impressed just by me coming from Sweden, when they realized I've been down as far as Athens before I ended up here I could really see the look of admiration in their eyes.
Call me vain but I enjoyed it and it was a confidence booster.

Only strange thing was that they where certain Triumph is a German brand.
It's not the first time people have thought as much but I did think the Germans themselves would know better.

A hot shower and quick looting through the minibar I'm pretty beat.
So beat in fact that I can't even gather the energy to go out for supper, not that I'm even that hungry after the ginormous kebab.
I turn in for an early evening and instead try to get an early start tomorrow.

 

Somewhere in the Polish outback.
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Monday  Dateicon  7.8.2015  Tigericon  0km

I consult my trusty guide and load up the phone with waypoint of all the sights and hit the town, it is the typical selevtion of churches, buildings and statues but here the old buildings seem to dominate.
Hardly surprising since the Old town in Vilnius is on the Unesco world heritage list and it's easy to see why, there are magnificent buildings and narrow alleys everywhere you look.

An exotic flair is added by the neighbourhood called Uzupis which has declared itself an independent republic and have written a forty-one point constitution declaring amongst other things, the right to cry, the right to be misunderstood and the right to be a dog.

I get some coffee in a rustic old café before I stumble on to the church of St. Peter & Paul, the distance wasn't all that great but the height defence was enough to make a grown man cry had it not been for the strengthening avec I just had.
When I eventually get there it's certainly worth the effort, it took thirty years just to do the interior so that should give some idea about how richly ornamented it was.

I head back to the centre and eat lunch at Zoe's grill, a place that immediately displays it has class by the sign on the door stating that your not allowed to bring hand grenades into the restaurant.
I know it's blasphemy but as soon as I found chicken and noodles on the menu I couldn't bring myself to not get it even though it was a grill.
They did serve some descent noodles so I regret nothing.

After lunch I wander around aimlessly and with droplets staring to come down from a grayclouded sky I head back to the hotel.

When it's time for supper I head back into old town to find a restaurant called Lokys (you've guessed it, it from the lonely planet guide).
The Lokys restaurant has it's facilities in a labyrinthian cellar and are specialized in wild game.
I go all in and dine on quail with sweet pear and buckwheat in whine sauce.

As if the food itself wasn't enough a Dane at the table next to mine provide the dinner entertainment by in explicit detail describing the procedure of inseminating turkeys.
Luckily enough I was half hidden behind a pillar because when he (quite intoxicated) point out that it is "very important to blow and not to suck" I almost pass out from trying to stifle my laughter.

Such a fine meal deserves a worthy dessert so I treat myself to a twelve year old Macallan. For about six euros I simply couldn't resist.
I say, all in all it was such a splendid meal and drink that I had to fight the urge to search for my top hat and monocle when the time came to bid adieu.
It was a fine finale to my visit to Vilnius, tomorrow I move on to Latvia and the city of Riga.

 

The Republic of Uzupis
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St. Peter & Paul church
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Zoes Bar & Grill
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The london cab was a rolling advertisment for an English pub.
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You just have to like a town that builds a statue of Frank Zappa
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In the cellar at Lokys
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Tuesday  Dateicon  8.9.2015  Globeicon  Countries:20  Tigericon  291km Total:8307km

I talked to my brother yesterday and he said that they had so heavy rains in his are that it caused flooding.
Those rains have obviously found their way due east because as soon as I hit the highway flood gates of heaven spring wide open.
Even if the clothes keep me dry for the most part I'm still cold and stiff.

I always get so happy when it rains so for the second time I skip lunch (this is turning into a bad habit) and ride on.
I do manage to ride through the rains but I also end up at the hotel one and a half hour before earliest check in, stiff as a brick and frozen to the core.
Not only did the angelic woman in reception even mention it and just gives me a room (with a bathtub) well, this trips second potential marriage proposal wasn't far off.
I get a quick lunch at the hotel and soak my left in a steaming bath for so long that I almost need to iron myself out.

When I lay their in my bathtub with a beer and my lonely planet guide and find that "old town" is the #1 sight for god know which time in a row I don't exactly pee myself with excitement.
But as soon as I cross the bridge and get in the old town square I can only attest to the fact that they're absolutely right, as usual.
The fact that everything by this time had already closed so I was limited to just looking at the exterior of building while wandering around aimlessly did not lessen the experience at all.
Everywhere you look there is some cultural heritage or architectural magnificence.

When I get to the cathedral square it almost gets surreal. The whole square with postcard worthy buildings all around.
The buildings effectivly block out the sounds of the surrounding city which meant the cello player sat in front of the cathedral could hade concert hall acoustics, it was absolutely beutiful.
I sit down at a café and treat myself to a cup of coffee and a local speciality called Riga-balsam an herbal liqueur made here since the 1750:s.
That it's called balsam is due to it being invented by a pharmacist and marketed as a remedy for stomach related ailments.
I doubt it'll cure my IBS but I'm prepared so make the sacrifice in the name of science.
Verdict: Drinkable but nothing that'll come home in my pannier and I guess I'm still stuck with the IBS.

Reluctantly I grab my safari hat and leave the square behind, there's plenty more exploring to do.
I find my may to the Swedish Gate, parts of the old town wall still preserved since the 1600:s when the city was under Swedish rule.
Nerd fact: Kurt Wallander visits the Swedish gate in the Henning Mankell novel "The dogs of Riga".

After a pit stop at the hotel I head out in search of supper. After a few failed guide-tips I can draw some conclusions: 1. Some restaurants consider the season to be over and are closed and 2. Those who hasn't closed for the season close at 10PM. It is now 9.30PM.
I didn't want to wolf down my food so tonight supper was graciously provided by Subway.
To be honest a footlong and a local beer in bed at the hotel overlooking the Daugava river wasn't bad either.

  

Overlooking the Daugava river and Riga's old town.
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Town square
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Swedish gate
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Cathedral square
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The bridge from the hotel across the Daugava in to town.
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