Klaipeda was boring. Incredibly boring.
I’d booked the hostel for three nights, and had I not become sick in Klaipeda it would have been a complete waste. There’s nothing to do there. Sure, it’s a convenient location for day trips to Palanga or the Curonian Spit, but the town itself? It’s dead.
I arrived there late at night, so at least that only left me with two full days. The first day, I wandered around the town. To be fair, it was a Sunday and so everything was closed. There was a bunch of people doing incredibly bad ballet in a small square, and there was a small flea market full of tiny stalls selling assorted junk. Museums were closed, and shops were closed. The town was pretty enough, but nothing particularly special.
I bought a curly fried potato on a stick from the market, which was quite tasty, before walking to the giant Acropolis shopping centre in search of a raincoat. It wasn’t very helpful, and I got so frustrated with the fact that I was beeping going in and out of every single store that I left after about an hour. I was tired of being chased by security guards and having to continually empty my bag. More than two weeks later, I’m still searching for a raincoat…
There was one thing of interest – a clock museum. No one really knows why there is a museum dedicated to the measuring of time in Klaipeda, which has no particular relation to the art of clockmaking, but for some reason there’s one there. It was a rather interesting museum, housed in an old house that I thought I could quite comfortably live in. There’s a nice big room at the top with a wide bay window that would make quite a nice bedroom…
The museum basically encompassed the measuring of time from ancient to modern times, with examples of Chinese fire clocks, Egyptian sun dials, water clocks, hourglasses, the earliest mechanical clocks and everything in between. Nothing was signed in English, but there was a folder in every room translating the copious amounts of information about each exhibit. I never knew that there were so many ways to tell the time, and my collection of useless information received a large input of new data. It will be filed away and most likely dragged out for the occasional trivia night.
It was at Klaipeda that I met the worst ever dorm inmate. He started shouting at me when I tried to close a door… apparently he wanted it open, and it would have strained his simple mind to ask me to leave it open. He was very shocked when I didn’t take being abused by a random stranger over something so pathetic very well. I’m pretty sure that this is one guy who doesn’t make many friends when he travels. Another of my roomies told me later that he’d received similar treatment when he hung his towel over the side of his bunk to dry…
I’d planned to head to Nida the next day, however when I woke I felt so horrible that I could barely move – my head weighed a tonne and felt like someone was hitting me with a brick, I was dizzy and felt so weak I could hardly stand. I spent the day in bed. I read two books and watched some Louis Theroux, and while I clearly needed a day in bed, I vowed not to waste another.
I’d intended to take the bus to Kaunas, but the hostel offered a tour to Kaunas costing a similar amount that went via a number of castles. I signed up for this, along with a Czech girl and two Dutch women.
We arrived in Kaunas, having paid for the castle tour, without having visited a single castle. I was feeling pretty average and had fallen asleep for most of the journey, so hadn’t noticed the time passing. My fellow passengers were furious. Apparently none of them had said anything along the way about the castles, and they probably should have. It transpired that there had been a communication failure; apparently the receptionist, who had happily taken our money [10 litas each more than the simple straight-to-Kaunas option] and told us all about each castle we’d visit, had forgotten to mention to the driver that we had paid for the castle tour. I don’t think this was a deliberate attempt to rip us off. I’d have been happy to have the difference back, but the others were getting quite angry and were insisting that we drive back to see the castles. In the end, we had to pay a further 10 lts to drive an hour back and start hitting the castles. I felt bad, as it wasn’t the driver’s fault.
The castles weren’t particularly impressive to be honest. They weren’t all actually castles to begin with. The first was, but it was being renovated and so we couldn’t see much or go inside. I met a bunch of archaeology students [I’m really good at that] around the back and we chatted for a while. They were telling me about their excavation and were excited to inform me that they’d found a few coins from different periods. I don’t even know what the place was called.
The next place wasn’t a castle but a manor house that is currently operating as a school.
We paid 3 lt to climb the tower. I was very surprised at the painting hanging on the walls as you climb the tower. Considering the place is a school, I wasn’t sure how appropriate it was for every picture to be of grossly overweight naked people, all with clear sexual overtones. It was a bit strange. It was a primary school…
The view from the tower was nice though.
The third place, I didn’t actually see a castle. I found some interesting graffiti and there was a church being renovated.
It was sad watching these lovely old terracotta roof tiles sliding down a metal pipe and smashing on the pile at the bottom. It didn’t sound too pleasant either.
The final stop was Kaunas Castle. I must admit, I’m a little tired of castles. They are always full of museums and they always lack properly equipped dungeons. There wasn’t really much left of this castle, just a tower and some restored fortress walls.