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015: to Hill of Crosses via Siaulai; Kaunas. 2012/5/16

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[Photo albums at the end of blog entry.]

I got up early and packed quietly.  Raining.  The bus setting off at 6.55am turns out to be the best choice, since then one needn’t wait long for the bus from Šiauliai to Hill of Crosses (Lithuanian: Kryžių kalnas), nor the ensuing bus from HoC back to Šiauliai Bus Station.  The bus station has storage, and when I was checking out pastries in the supermarket in the adjacent shopping complex, a young clerk peeped at me, perhaps wondering whether I needed help; I then checked something with her, and she was most willing to help and ready to beam.  I also checked the bag shop here and was rather displeased to see that a decent-looking trolley suitcase, albeit having two instead of four wheels, cost merely a bit short of TWD 2,000! Gosh, and that purchase in Riga..

I asked the non-English speaking bus driver whether he could tell me where to get off, but that was hardly necessary – when we approached (and I didn’t even see the site), half of the bus was chanting softly “Kryžių kalnas” to me to remind me.

It was a bit cold, as the sky is still a bit gray, even though the weather cleared up before I reached Siaulai.  HoC isn’t far from the bus stop – perhaps just a ten-to-fifteen-minute walk.  I have to say it isn’t the most aesthetic site, but do think about what it represents.  This is also the place up to this point of my journey where I heard most German.

The bus back to Siaulai Bus station turns out to be driven by the same driver.

This day is basically a travel day.  The bus driver didn’t turn on any sort of air-conditioning on the way to Kaunas, and the wi-fi didn’t work – not that it mattered that much; after all the road wasn’t good, and all the bumps prevented a computer disc to function properly anyway.

I got off the bus, somewhat sweaty, seeing that the rain had resumed.  Before I arrived my host texted me to confirm my bus so that his wife would come pick me up, and before soon she appeared.  She radiated enthusiasm for accommodation and took me to the closest point to the single promenade avenue of the city, and then left to pick up her kid and neighbors’ kids from school.  She asked whether I eat chicken or I am a vegetarian, since she’d like to prepare dinner for me.

I rushed to tourist information center and then to Devil’s Museum, the single museum I planned to see.  The cashier was busy on the phone and gestured to me that it’s free today – probably because of some museum day.  Again sweaty, I got on the staircases and saw a guy of perhaps 173 cms with beard finely chiseled his jaw , very likely Taiwanese.  We exchanged looks, and when we encountered again at another part of the museum he said something intelligible to me.  As soon as finding out I’m Taiwanese he switched to slightly accented Mandarin, telling that he’s from Hong Kong.  At that moment I had such an urge to invite him for coffee.

Before soon noises of kids could be heard, and they entered as if into a recreation park, a couple of whom taking photos randomly with consistent flash.  A couple of them followed me, very likely finding me to be much more interesting than the exhibition.

The city doesn’t have a very impressive look, but I guess I was invigorated by the more than friendly face of my hostess that even though the rain barely stopped when I walked, I felt rather happy.

We had a lovely dinner and lots of talks, interrupted at times by the young child (a bit more than one year old) who wouldn’t hold back when hitting bowls or whatever with vehemence or when crying and by the big friendly dog who couldn’t resist nudging me.  (Turned out that the host actually Google-translated my blog entry on Klaipeda and was worried whether I don’t like dogs.) The host then took me for a ride, trying to maximize my experience with the city.  What impressed me the most, however, is probably his accounts of the role of Russian language then and now.  I was getting increasingly tired and perhaps walked like half a zombie (while trying to conceal this), but it was nice.

We returned shortly before 10pm for the two cakes the hostess just made – the first one is made of pumpkin, if I remember correctly, and it’s something I’d love to try again.  Intense cultural exchange sessions persisted, and it was almost half past midnight when the hostess asked whether I’d like to go to bed.  She prepared all the sheets and blankets with such attention to details that I almost chuckled – I was and have always been less than picky!

[Photo albums:
Siaulai/ Hill of Crosses; Kaunas]

記帳:*1LTL = 10.96TWD
Klaipeda – Siaulai公車: 40Litas,
Siaulai公車總站寄行李: 2 Litas
超市麵包: 6.97 Lts;
Siaulai – Hill of Crosses往返: 3*2= 6 Lts;
Hill of Crosses明信片: 2
平信郵資: 2.45

Siaulai – Kaunas公車: 36.5.

總計:95.92 Litas <== 有點危險,注意一下..


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