Spotting an empty boat sitting near the drawbridge to the castle on the water’s edge we walked on board. There were no guests but rather three crew sitting around idyll waiting to leave in a few minutes. We thought we would have this hour cruise to ourselves.
Not so. We ended up spending a very cold, gloomy and rainy (very winteresque) June afternoon in the middle of Lithuania on some boat crowded with 50 screaming kids – all speaking Russian along with heavy metal Metallica music blasting out of the speakers! But we had our ‘kiss” cider and hot tea and despite the chill we were warm from this liquid as well as the fact the boat was covered in thick plastic to keep the wind and splashing water at bay.This cleverly named building, the Trakai Island Castle is well restored and contains an extensive museum – some of the displays contain artifacts found on site. One exhibit mentions how native Americans introduced Europeans to tobacco. Columbus saw American Indians smoking and brought back tobacco to Europe where it soon spread and evolved into a number of various forms and devices for smoking.
Not finding sunshine, we headed back to Vilnius and visited the Amber Museum – an awesome collection of amber mined from Kaliningrad in Russia. The largest amber deposits in the world are in the Baltic. These pieces are over 50 million years old and the insects look to be perfectly preserved after all that time. The little gnats or flies in the piece I bought look like they were trapped in the resin only just yesterday. Course I recently heard about crystals discovered on a sheep farm in Western Australia in the last few years that were dated to 4.4 billion years old. So comparatively, these insects are just a blip in time. But very neat, nonetheless. That is some planetary perspective for ya!
Did you know there is such a thing as Amber Vodka?! We tried this here – amber stones are placed in vodka in a dark place for 6 weeks or longer. The longer you leave amber in the vodka, the more bitter the drink becomes.
Michael Zullo says
We are looking for some sunshine here in Zagreb, Croatia. It’s been raining since Sunday. So, while John is on his way to the sunny Greek Islands for some delicious seafood, wonderful swimming and a fun time, we’ll be on the road for 9-days driving along the Dalmation coast to Split and hopefully have some sunshine & fun. We didn’t know about Amber Vodka – we prefer a Screwdriver but we’ll try it as we bring along with our luggage a liter of ABSOLUTE VODKA…
M and V, Zagreb, Croatia
I’m sorry that you had such a bad weather and 50 kids to share it with :). I visited Trakai a few years ago and it was a wonderful experience. Didn’t tried the vodka though, I missed the visit to the Amber Museum. But I will go for sure next time.
Yea, at least for the weather, its nice to be back in California – enjoying the sunshine! And I bought a piece of amber with a number of tiny insects still perfectly preserved. I won’t be putting that stone in vodka anytime soon!
Hi Michael – if your in Split, hopefully you will have time to head over to the island of Brac on a boat. It is a wonderful place to chill – lots of small little villages, plenty of swimming and great food. Feels much different than Split which is a decent sized city – yet isn’t really that far away.