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Hill of Crosses

Baltic Tour - Šiauliai

sunny 20 °C
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The final day in Lithuania was also the most stressful. Much like the previous day, we had to get up early and take one of the few trains that ran to the city of Šiauliai, in northern Lithuania. From there we took a local bus, which ran just once an hour to the middle of nowhere. It is made even easier by the fact that very few people in this place knew English, and we unsurprisingly didn't know Lithuanian or Russian. But nevertheless we succeeded in our plan, with a helping hand (well, eye wink) from a local who understood our plan, and we made it to the Hill of Crosses.

Hill of Crosses

Hill of Crosses

The hill is a pilgrimage site for Christians, and contains more than 200,000 crosses of varying sizes. Three times in its history it has been destroyed, but each time it has been rebuilt. Once there the site was full with tourists, however most of whom had arrived on coach trips (a pity that with a bit better infrastructure many more people like us could also visit). We also decided that as we had quite a few Litas left over we would purchase a Cross and place it with a message on the hill.

Afterwards we made our long way back to the bus stop to wait for the bus, where we met a couple from Huddersfield - although my sister didn't understand anything they said, and it turns out they were doing the reverse of what we were..and were on their way to Vilnius from Riga and the rest of the Baltic states.

Once we made it back to the centre of Šiauliai, we decided to buy with the rest of the Lithuanian money we had left, food for breakfast and lunch in our next destinations - however miscounting exactly how much we had at the end meant at the tills we were short by 8 sentimas (about 2p), which luckily we let off for before boarding our minibus to Riga.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Lithuania Tagged history cross baltic Comments (0)

Vilnius

Baltic Tour - Vilnius

sunny 22 °C
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The first day of this adventure involved us leaving home at 5:30am to make it to the airport for a 7:30am flight to Vilnius. However as we were about the board the plane, there was a technical issue that delayed us by almost 2 hours. Although we didn't mind arriving later, as we already knew that we had plenty of spare time and we couldn't check into the hotel straight away had we arrived at our original time, it was a shame as we still had to get up so early for the flight.

Eventually we arrived in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania at 1:30pm local time (2 hours ahead of British time) and took the bus into the city before walking to our hotel. Vilnius, like the other cities we were visiting were all on the small side, and so walking around them to see everything is an easy job. Having the rest of the first day and the whole of the second day in the first city meant we could have a relaxing start after our very early wake up, and so we decided to walk around the city centre which was the closest part of the city and then have an early night - little did we realise this meant 8pm local time!

St. Anne's Church

St. Anne's Church

Having had a very nice rest, the second day we woke to feel very relaxed and stress free - ideal for a long walk up a hill!

Cathedral Square

Cathedral Square

Having seen the town hall and many churches the day before, the second day involved us walking back through the city centre, past the parliament towards the Cathedral Square. Luckily today was a much nicer day with blue skies and the sun shining - ideal T-shirt weather! As yesterday it hammered down with rain as we were walking, leaving us drenched. After visiting the Cathedral, we walked up the main shopping street towards the Parliament building and the KGB museum.

Torture at the KGB Museum

Torture at the KGB Museum

The museum would give us the most saddening part of our trip, where we went down to the former torturing rooms that were in use until Lithuania broke free from the Soviet Union in 1991 - the year I was born. Although seeing the execution chamber and rooms used to torture people was not the most pleasing thing to look at, much like visiting the concentration camp in Germany I did in 2009, it is a very eye opening experience and definitely worth the visit.

National Museum & Gediminas Tower

National Museum & Gediminas Tower

After visiting the museum, we crossed the river and walked along the other side of the city, seeing what must have been our 7th bride of the day - we then crossed the bridge back into the city seeing a total of three on the same bridge! We still don't understand why...

Three Crosses

Three Crosses

After seeing the whole of the city our last place to visit was the Three Cross Monument on the top of the hill overlooking the city - Although it was a long walk in hot weather, the view was definitely worth it, as we could look over everything we had just seen.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Lithuania Tagged history city baltic Comments (0)

Brussels

sunny 29 °C
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After taking a packed out coach from Bremen at midnight, I arrived in Brussels at 7am and took my suitcases across the city to my hotel in the south. Already by half past 7, it was reaching 25˚C, and although the hotel was just 5 minutes from the station, the cobbled streets on the way there made dragging 55kg strenuous work. Luckily the hotel had storage and so I could leave my luggage there and then go off into the city with just a few bits.

European Parliament

European Parliament

Firstly, I went to the European Parliament, where there was free access to the debating chamber twice a day. Afterwards I went to Jubelpark followed by Brussels' most famous attraction - the Atomium.

Atomium

Atomium

After visiting the attractions on the outskirts of the city I went to visit the Royal Palace, where there was free entry for the summer and then the city centre.

Grand Square

Grand Square

Having been a very busy day I went for an early night and the next day I took the Eurostar back to London in the middle of the day. I then had a 45 minute changeover at St. Pancras back to Luton, where I met with two of my Erasmus friends who were visiting London for the last few days.

And that's where my Erasmus journey ends, after just over 10 months of living in Germany, I am finally back in Dunstable. I still have many more travels to go this summer before going back to University in September, but for Germany - it's over.

Thanks for following my travels!
Kevin.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Belgium Tagged history city europe erasmus Comments (0)

Denmark

German Adventures - Esbjerg


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So these last two weeks have been pretty busy, and I've just got back from Denmark. I already visited the country last year, but this time I went to Jutland in the West.

Men at Sea

Men at Sea

I was with 4 of my Erasmus friends, one of whom is Danish, and we stayed at her place in Esbjerg. Whilst the weather was pretty dull (well it is as north as Scotland), we made the most of it, and toured the city the first day, seeing the town centre and visiting the white men, for whom the city is most famous for. In the evening we took a ferry to the island of Fanø, which looked very traditional and for the first time we had been there was sunny!

Fanø

Fanø

On the second day we took the train to Ribe, the oldest city in Denmark, which was really very nice to visit with so many traditional buildings.

Ribe

Ribe

The trip was pretty hectic for me, as they joined me in Hamburg after I had just flown back after my weekend in Dunstable again. Luckily I made it home, as last week after getting back from Venice I was so tired, that I had no energy to even sit up in bed and ended up sleeping for 40 of 48 hours - perfect when you have an exam to revise for. But luckily I made it to the German exam and passed - not a brilliant grade but thats more than I expected in the condition I was in.

Some sad news is that on the way back from Denmark, we found out one of our housemates - Bettina - had already left Bremen back to Malta without even saying goodbye (we had been hoping to have a family dinner before this happened). She then blocked and deleted many of us and now we have no contact with her - it seems she must have been offended by us, which is a pity as we were never intentionally nasty to her, and always tried to be friendly and invite her to her activities. But what can you do?

Tonight is my last night to La Viva - my favourite club in Bremen, and next week I will go to Bremerhaven and Cuxhaven, before the farewell ceremony next Friday, my exam next Saturday, and then my mum and sister coming to Bremen on Sunday for two days. After this I will go to Brussels and then finally get the train back to Luton on Friday, just hours before the Olympics starts!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Denmark Tagged history friends erasmus Comments (0)

Venice

German Adventures - Venice

sunny 30 °C
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This weekend I took a break from studying, and went with 4 of my other Erasmus friends to Venice for a few days. We managed to book it all two weeks ago, and for only £100, flew from Bremen to Venice and had a really nice apartment right in the centre of the city.

Venice

Venice

After a 2 hour delay (thanks to Italian military exercises) we needed to take a 45 minute coach from the Ryanair "Venice" Airport to the city itself, and after arriving in the afternoon we did a little sightseeing in the evening, which was more pleasant (cooler temperatures and less tourists), whilst the next day we walked around the city again, seeing the Rialto bridge and San Marco Square.

Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge


St. Mark's Square

St. Mark's Square

We were there for only two days, but that was enough for us, as it is only a small city. The city itself is really very pretty, and with no roads at all, just canals and paths, it is an interesting experience that I would definitely recommend you all to do - just don't go in the middle of summer. It was 30˚C and incredibly humid - far too much for us Northern Europeans in the group (The Turk and Hungarian meanwhile compared it to a cold summer's day).

Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs

This week I have a presentation and an exam to take, and then on Friday I will fly home for the weekend!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Italy Tagged history city friends erasmus Comments (0)

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