Underrated Lithuania – Hill of Crosses, Trakai Castle, KGB Museum

I know I have not been diligent in writing which resulted in this website being off for quite some time. But this was due to the lack of traveling and enticing adventuring to write about on my part. However, the travel gods have struck lightning into me once again and I have started to rack up a lot of great times and adventures, the ever mind-expanding freedom with this trip taking me to Lithuania, one of the Baltic countries in Northeastern Europe. Westerners were not allowed to visit this country during the Soviet Union days so it’s relatively new on the tourist scene meaning it’s not tourist-spoiled as a lot of other countries.

So what is there to see in Lithuania which was at one time, the biggest country in Europe that spanned from the Baltics to Ukraine? And no, I don’t want to bore you what ails a lot of European countries with simplistic museums, castles, churches, etc. I present to you case #1 – The Hill of Crosses!

Hill of Crosses colina de cruces lithuania religion catholics pope holy

Hill of Crosses entry

This place was started back in the 1700s and later evolved into some kind of pilgrimage site for Christians to plant their cross into and later into a site protesting the Soviets when Lithuania was forced into the USSR. The place is basically in the middle of nowhere and by traveling from south to north, it’s like a bus stop for tourists prior to going to Lithuania’s northern neighbor, Latvia. You can even place and install your cross there as well along as you follow the directions so the place is like a living historical site. You can visit it several times a year and something will be different with the site.

A local told me that someone (a Lithuanian) actually tried to burn the site down because he was pissed off at the Lithuanian government on some law. As a result, the local authorities have started to watch over the site more with guards and video cameras. I’m sure the place will get even more flooded with security when Pope Frances shows up in Fall 2018 which will make him the second Pope to visit the site.

cruz cruces cross crosses religion hill lithuania lithuanian catholic

You can see crosses everywhere as you walk around.

cross hill religion religion pilgrimage holy site crusaders

There are crosses everywhere on this hill.

Going to the Hill of Crosses is best by taking a tour bus or driving out to this location. There weren’t a lot of people here so driving makes sense.

Ninth Fort

A Fort turned into a prison known as Ninth Fort in Kaunas, a city famous for producing Lithuanian basketball players. This started out as a fort made in the 1800s that was later used by both the Germans in World War II to imprison and execute Jews and by the Russians during the Cold War to imprison and transport political prisoners.

The fort itself has been run down and there’s been a lot of changes to it because it’s been changed into a museum and although it doesn’t have the notoriety as Auschwitz does, the fact that it was used by two different warring nations as a processing center does not bode well for this place as many died in faraway places.

judeos judeo estatua statue for jews jewish world war 2 ii holocaust lithuania nazis soviets prisoners

Jewish Memorial at Ninth Fort

prision prison carcel world war ii soviets union guerrera del mundial 2 two dos

A look into one of the prison rooms at the Ninth Fort.

Museum of Genocide Victims (aka KGB Museum)

Next on the list is the KGB Museum. It might also be called Museum of Genocide Victims, a more gruesome name for such a place. I didn’t think much of the place after visiting Auschwitz Prison but there were two rooms that made this place really interesting.

One was the padded room where they’d put someone in a strait jacket so he/she could go mentally insane, bouncing all over the place without hurting himself/herself too badly.

insane asylum room cuarto de mentales insano insanity prisoners prison carcel

It’s kind of hard to see but there’s a strait jacket in there and the rest of the room including the door is padded.

The other room was kind of like a pool room where you can’t stop being wet unless you stand on this elevated stone with complete balance otherwise you fall into the water. The only other place where you don’t get wet is on the concrete by the door. Mind you during the harsh winter times, the water is very icy cold which would make you almost freeze to death. So where would inmates sleep? Probably on the cold concrete by the door. The KGB thought of this room extremely well considering that it used to be Lithuania’s KGB HQ building before the fall of the Soviet Union.

cuarto de carcel piscina agua fria cold water imprisonment soviet KGB HQ headquarters locked up

This is the pool prison room. During the soviet times, the room would be filled with water and that little round thing is where people can step on to avoid getting wet. But people normally cannot maintain their balance that long so they will fall and get wet. If the prisoner is really out of control, the guards just add more water which makes everything worse especially during the cold winter nights.

Trakai Castle

So what else is there in good ol’ Lithuania? Well, there is Trakai Castle. Yes, yes, yes, it’s another “castle” in Europe but I try to only showcase the unique ones like I did with Malbrok Castle.

el castillo en la isla castle on island lithuanian duchy water summer blue

Trakai Castle – the castle on the island

Construction started back in the 1300s, this castle is unique in the sense that it was built on an island in the middle of the lake. It was built for the leader of Lithuania at the time, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. However, over time, due to wars and political squabbling, the place lost its importance and at one time was left in ruins.

Thanks to modern civilization, people were able to fix and restore the castle to somewhat of its former glory.

el puente para el castillo la entrade entrance pathway route bridge to castle island

Entrance to the castle is by bridge. Or you can take the boats that cruise around the lake and then stop at the castle.

To me, it was like a tourist trap. Once you see one castle, you’ve seen them all. There are several ways to get to Trakai – bus, train, or drive a car. If you drive a car, ensure that you look for a big “P” sign with coins underneath it so you can park your car without getting ticketed or towed. Or you can look for people who will wave you down telling you to park in their private parking lot aka backyard. Driving into one, it was not a bad deal at all – 4 euros for all day.

If you really want to go to this castle, go as early as possible (10 am) during the summer. That way you will avoid the crowds that emerge at around 11 am. The area around the lake is actually quite pleasant with its souvenir shops and restaurants so by going early, you can enjoy the castle and then lunch.

Gate of Dawn

So what is else there in the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius? Well, there are tons of restaurants, stores, museums, castles, and other interesting buildings. Probably the only thing that is interesting is the Gate of Dawn.

la puerta de alba gates of dawn

Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, Lithuania. Yes – you can walk through it. Note that there is a shrine up top.

There are other interesting little places in Lithuania that be gems in their own right. For example, going into this Windmill was actually converted into a restaurant!

Windmill restaurant looks deceive restaurante adentro

Looks beware! It’s actually a restaurant inside.

And so what’s the food like? Lots of meat and veggies. The soup is generally good. However, there is one food item that stands out as Lithuanian cuisine. It’s a potato dumpling generally filled with meat inside which is called cepelinai. There are variations of this food item which can be served with all kinds of sauces. It can be quite filling depending on the size of the cepelinai you get so drink caffeine or take a nap afterwards!

comida de lithuania food cuisine burrito like potato dumpling papa patata con carne with meat

I actually thought that this was a burrito, Lithuanian version. However, I was wrong. Real filling if you ask me. Too many carbs due to the potato covering.

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Auschwitz Prison – the haunted, tortured souls by the Nazis / Prisión Auschwitz, la más famosa de los Nazi durante la Guerra Mundial 2

prison prisión cárcel polonia nazis nazi german aleman polaco guerra world war 2 ii europe jews holocaust holocausto

The prison grounds in modern times. Imagine the brutality of it during its heyday. / Es hoy durante éstes días de ahora pero durante la guerra mundial 2, era hogar y infierno, todos tenían sufrimiento y dolor.

One of the most interesting places to go to while in Poland has to got to be one of the most famous or infamous prisons in the world, and no it’s not Alcatraz (which is in California, not Europe) – it’s Auschwitz Prison. The place was one of many of Hilter’s so-called “Final Solution” Nazi death camps for Jews, Gyspies, and other enemies of the Nazi state during World War II. Supposedly, there were a lot of secrets that have been hidden within the prison grounds due to all the conspiracy theories and stories swirling around with the good idea fairy flying around, but it’s pretty much a death sentence pounding ground. You went and died as few people made it out alive through escape other than liberation by the allied powers.

Este es un lugar muy difícil para escribir porque era un lugar de dolor… de agonía… de total muerto. Muchas personas han cruzado las puertas de este lugar y sólo volvieron en la forma de humo, suciedad, cenizas, y carbón. La mayoría ha dado sus propias vidas por nada excepto para morirse entre las paredes de muerto. Este lugar se llama Auschwitz. Es una de muchas prisiones que son hechos durante la segunda guerra mundial por los Nazi. Su líder, Adolf Hitler, dijo que era la Solución Final y entonces, muchas personas (judeos, gisanos, enemigos de los Nazi) se murieron en esos campos de muerto.

prison auschwitz poland south sur guerra prisoneros prisoners of war death killed guard towers torres de guardia

I would have been shot in the 1940s for getting this close to this sign. / Un soldado me habría disparado si hubiera estado muy cerca a este señal en los 40s.

The best way to experience the prison is to imagine yourself being a prisoner there when the Nazis were lording over you back in the 1940s. Once you do that, then you get the sobering experience that life really sucked. Let’s face it: it’s not the same as it is today at Auschwitz with these selfie-taking, facebook-posting people eating ice cream and drinking sodas out there, complaining that “it’s too hot” or “They don’t serve Coca-Cola Light – what’s wrong with this place!??” And yes, I did hear that from an American tourist when I was over there. And yes, they do sell fat pills there at Auschwitz store, very much unlike unoffered to the prisoners there who instead ate gruel, stale bread, or whatever they could scourage the grounds (such as bugs, grubs, and crumbs) in order to kick away the hunger monsters.

Los prisioners tenían una vida muy difícil. Es prácticamente diferente a partir de hoy con todos los turistas caminando aquí, caminando allí como rebaños de vacas porque hoy en Auschwitz, se vende coca-cola, fanta, agua, galletas, tentempiés, etc. ¡Los prisioners en el pasado no tenían tales oportunidades como hoy! ¡No! Ellos sufrían todos los días trabajando hasta el muerto con poca ropa y poca comida. Los veranos eran muy calientes y los inviernos eran muy fríos. Era una vida muy pobre y despreciable. No me sorprendería si ellos comieron bichos, migas, o aún, la carne de las personas muertas. Era supervivencia.

shoes prisoners war time worldwar2 wwii ww2 epoca de guerra gisanos judeos

Why are these shoes being shown? Well, that’s because each pair of shoes belonged to someone (you owned what you could carry) and that someone wore them all the way until his/her death. So one pair of shoes = someone’s life. / Los zapatos significan una persona. Los prisioneros se llevaban lo que sólo tenían y sus zapatos eran algo dejado de su alma antes de morirse.

Auschwitz Birkenau campo poland open area prison dead camp muerto muertos

Auschwitz is actually in two parts: the museum which is Auschwitz itself and Birkenau which is a few miles away in an open area. / Auschwitz tiene 2 partes: Auschwitz, el museo, y Birkenau, el otro prisión en el aire libre.

Ensure that you sign up for a tour in the language of your choice because they won’t let you in the museum without a specialized licensed tour guide. You could do what I did which was just show up and hope that there’s an open slot available… yeah, I did that and took a risk playing the numbers lottery but at least, I managed to snag a spot. But if you arrive in big groups, it ain’t going to happen. Just know that summers are the busiest meaning high-tourist, high traffic season so you better act fast before tickets run run out.

Es una buena idea que se inscriban en el tour que querien semanas o meses antes de su viaje porque el museo no deja que las personas entren sin un guía. Y este guía va a hablar en el idioma de su elección como francés, inglés, español… claro, hay más tours en inglés y eso es porque necesitan hacer planes para el futuro. Tienen que pensar en que el verano es la temporada más popular porque es la alta temporada turística. Polonia tiene tiempo muy frío en el resto del año y para mí, yo prefiero que haga sol y calor como en el verano. La mayoría de turistas probablemente va a decir lo mismo. Todavía… es posible que un persona pueda obtener un billete como yo. Yo fui sin planes, sin tours, o reservaciones y obtuve un boleto para visitar el museo y otro sitio con un guía. Totalmente en inglés. No había tours en español.

Lastly, I’ve read somewhere that Auschwitz is steadily degrading towards a breakdown and that there’s a possibility that the place might completely deteriorate (some of the buildings have already broke down) because the place itself was shabbily made by hastily Nazi or tired, beat-down prisoners. Yeah, there’s always maintenance being done there but after seeing millions of people walk through its grounds, there just might be too much severe tourist wear and tear. It’s one of the reasons why you have to pay 2.50 Zlotys to use the bathroom, reminding me when I had to pay something of 3 nuevo soles at Machu Picchu to use the bathroom there because they try to keep the bills being paid. And maintenance ain’t cheap!

El tour dura 3-4 horas porque el tour es sólo del museo pero incluye un otro sitio, Birkenau, un sitio 3-4 km fuera del museo. Porque los Nazi o los prisioneros construyeron las paredes y los edificios muy rápido y con materiales débiles, todos los sitios en Auschwitz y Birkenau están en una condición muy mal. Sí, todo el tiempo hay mantenimiento pero todavía es posible que el sitio vaya a perder su cosas originales. Es como usar el baño en Machu Picchu, antes de la puerta. ¡Tenía que pagar 3 nuevo soles para usarlo! En Auschwitz, es lo mismo – se necesita pagar 2.50 Zloty para usar el baño. Después de miles o milliones de personas cruzando su puertas como un museo, es inevitable que está en deterioro. Yo aconsejo que la gente viaje a Auschwitz pronto antes de la condición esté muy mal para repararlo.

rail wagon poland prisoners prisioneros transport death muerto ferrocarril trens tren guerra aleman alemanes

One of the remaining railcars left from the past which was used to carry prisoners to the death camp of Auschwitz. It would have sucked in being packed like sardines for several days without food or water in cold or hot days traveling in such a railcar. / Es un vagón de ferrocarril que es usado durante la guerra mundial 2 para transportar a los prisioneros de sus hogares a Auschwitz, su nueva casa o lugar de muerto.

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Marbork Castle / El Castillo de Marbork

castillo Marbork polonia Poland brick ladrillo, bloque, enladrillar bricked red rojoOne of the biggest, or maybe, the biggest brick castle in the world is the Marbork Castle, is in one of the most unusual places in the world to be in: Poland! Yes, Poland, a country in Central Europe that is famously sandwiched between Germany and Russia. It’s an area that has been fought countless times that even goes all the way back to the Roman days when the Roman Emperors have dreamed of having its borders stretch to the Vistula River. Even the Huns, Tetonic Knights, Mongols, Russians, Austrians, Ukrainians, and Germans have fought over this territory as well. But, that didn’t happen and eventually the Teutonic Knights rose and took over, eventually building this amazing castle, made mostly of bricks. It kind of reminded me of the huge structures and items that were made of Lego Bricks that I’ve seen in Legoland. Too bad the castle wasn’t built entirely of Legos because that would be a great Lego-ish sight to see.

En Europa, hay muchos castillos con la historias profundidas de caballeros, reyes, reinas, luchas, guerrera, esfuerzo, sufrimiento…. era una época muy diferente y difícil. ¡No había agua corriente para descargar el baño! ¡La gente tenía que limpiarlo con sus manos y herramientas! No había tecnología como nosotros y por eso es por qué es asombroso que la gente haya construido un castillo muy grande con ladrillos. Ahora es el más grande castillo de ladrillos en el mundo. También es el más grande edificio de ladrillos en Europa.

Marbork Polish Castles Europe Teutonic Knights cabelleros polaco pollocks

You have to be inside of it to see how really big it is! / El interior es muy grande. Más que me parece.

While initially it was cold weather when I arrived there, the place warmed up when summer decided to stop hibernating and that’s when I knew it was tourist-season as I could easily pick out the crowds of tourists stampeding everywhere they went. I have to admit, I’m not much of a castle person but this was huge and impressive. The best way to admire this castle is to think back in the olden days when it was built back in the 13th century. It was perfectly placed on the river to easily defend against raging hordes of enemies and at the same time, it should be utilized as a staging area to launch attacks from by using the river as a means of transport. Even better is to imagine the castle’s heyday with all the knights walking around in armor and swords… ready to make human groundmeat for someone dragon’s hamburgers at a local BBQ.

Polonia es desarrollado pero tiene un encanto de historia y ambiente. Para llegar en Marlbork, el castillo, era un buen coche en el campo. La gente es simpática y el país es pacífico. Y el Castillo Marlbork es un símbolo del pasado que existe hoy todavía para que represente la lucha que la gente soportaba. Imaginen las hordas de orges, dargones, feos, y guerreros…. todos querrían limpiar cada oro y plata de las paredes de este castillo de ladrillos. Bueno, probablemente no había monstruos pero la gente de esa área miraban otros enemigos o escuchaban de los como los romanos, mongoles, arabes, alemanes, etc.

starting la entrade incidio salida puerta castillo europa european polish pole

Welcome to the Gates of Hell-er, um, to Malbork Castle! / Dónde hay la entrada al interior de la mágica de magos y brujas y…. eh… no… el Castillo Malbork de Polonia.

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Forget the Arch, it’s better in St. Louis for shooting and BBQ / Olviden el arco de St. Louis. La gente debe divertirse con armas y barbacoa

St saint Louis luis gateway arch arco bóveda los estados unidos us american symbol simbolo edificio building landmark iconic

Yeah, it’s just there. The Arch. / Yo opino que es un parte de la ciudad. No es muy genial pero lo está.

Quite honestly, there’s nothing spectacular about the St. Louis Gateway Arch in my opinion. It’s just there and part of the landscape if you ask me. If you go to places like San Francisco (Golden Gate Bridge), Seattle (Space Needle), New York (Statue of Liberty), etc., they have an iconic landmark or symbol or building. To me, it’s another touristy thing to do.

That’s why there are some alternatives out there. I did some research and found out that I could do some good shooting. Yes, at a range. There’s a place in St. Louis called Shooters, an indoor shooting range where people can borrow guns, test fire them, zero in, shoot to have some fun, etc. It even has a BBQ place right next door so someone could make it a great afternoon hangout place!

grouping semi automatic gun rifle range shooting place st louis target group grupa bolas

That’s a pretty good grouping for my first time firing a FN SCAR 5.56 rifle. / Fue mi primera vez con este rifle. / Supongo que yo puedo matar a los zombis hoy sin problemas. ¡Ja ja ja!

5.56 FN SCAR semi automatic disparar tirar gun shoot military militar civilian NRA

5.56 FN SCAR

BBQ in St. Louis barbacoa pulled pork pollo puerco brisket costillas de res salsa frijoles beans potato salad ensalda de patas

BBQ to finish off the day’s shooting! / Aquí hay puerco y costillas de res ahumadas.

St. Louis, una ciudad en el estado de Missouri, es típico de este territorio pero el arco famoso. Todo el mundo, especialmente los americanos, sabe que el arco está en St. Louis, el símbolo y naturalmente conecta los dos juntos como San Francisco con el fuente Golden Gate, Nueva York con la Statua de Libertad, Paris con la Torre de Eiffel, etc. Pero en St. Louis, la ciudad tiene un secreto que la mayoría no sabe que la comida barbacoa sea fabolosa.

En la ciudad y alrededor, hay casas ahumadoras que sirve la carne barbacoa o ahumada. Es muy bueno, mejor que en otros partes de EEUU. Me gusta las salchicas y costillas de res porque son más jugosas en el interior.

Pero el secreto de St. Louis es el tiro en una tienda que se llama Shooters. Las personas pueden disparar en una galería de tiro adentro. ¿No tienen armas? ¡No hay problema! Los clientes pueden alquilar armas como pistolas y rifles.

Yo elegí el rifle FN SCAR. Se usa en las fuerzas especiales y siempre me había gustado tener, usar, y disparar esta herramienta de muerto. Ja ja. Naaaaa. Creo que es perfecto para el día cuando vienen los zombis y su ataque. Ja ja ja.

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Anyone who lives by the ocean and says it’s boring, has not gone fishing then

Striped Bass SF Berkeley marina california by the ocean por oceano bahia puerto

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can go for Striped Bass aka Stripers. / Se pesca Striped Bass en vez de Pokemon Go por más en su vida. ¿Cuál es más impresionanate? ¿Peces/pescados (comida)/animales auténticos en un mundo real o animales digitales (falsos)?

I’ve actually heard of people complaining that they have nothing to do when they live by the beach… the ocean… regardless if it’s cold or hot or not. There are plenty of things to do! I go fishing and in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are tons of fish to be caught! And there ain’t better, fresher fish than catching the ones that you’re going to eat!

Of course, people ain’t going to get up at 3 or 4 am to go fishing even if it’s their first time….What’s wrong with people nowadays? They don’t want to try at anything especially if it’s new and difficult. It’s like learning to ride a bike, you’re going to crash and burn some before you get the hang of it. But I guess not. I suppose it’s easier (and maybe trendier) to catch some digital monsters like Pokemon to say that it’s some kind of life achievement by pushing a bunch of buttons on a smartphone.

I guess I’m one of the last of the breed….

 

Es cómico pero he escuchado de las personas quien viven por el océano dicen que se están aburridos. ¿En serio? ¿Aburridos? Hay muchas cosas para hacer y divertirse. ¡No lo creo! Es obviamente que no han ido a pescar. Sí, es posible que hayan pescado pero no hicieron nada excepto miraron a las rocas en el agua.

Lingcod Ling 10 pounder queen of hearts fishing pesca pescando California pescador fisherman cold wet mojado

Anyone call for a 10 pound Lingcod??? This is possible in Half Moon Bay. Forget catching Pokemon and instead do real things in real life! / ¿Quién quiere pescar y comer un pez muy feo con una boca muy grande? ¡Yo, yo, yo! Me encanta comer Lingcod porque son muy dificiles para atrapar uno. Eso es la raison por qué ellos tienen un sabor muy bueno. La dificultad añade sabor.

Claro que las personas que no han ido a pescar están interesadas pero profundamente dentro de ellas, no quieren salir de la cama a las 3 o 4 en la mañana para hacer gran memorias. No los puedo culpar. En lugar, voy a divertirme con la pesca mientras están durmiendo. No Pokemon para mí. Yo tengo peces reales para pescar y atrapar… animales reales, no son falsos en una jugada que no es real.

Creo que los humanos quieren lograr algo muy rápido y fácil. No quieren trabajar nada. Sólo se sientan en sus traseros se comiendo y se relajando. ¿Que es el problema hoy…?

¡Liberamos a los dragones!

 

Contacts / Contactos:

New Huck Finn Fishing

http://www.newhuckfinn.com/

Queen of Hearts

www.fishingboat.com

 

 

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