After a night in the worst campsite I’ve been to ever we were in a hurry to leave. So we gulped our sandwiches as fast we could, packed our drenched tents, and off we went in search of some coffee, and to our first POI for the Saturday – Cold War museum in a former missile base.
Cold War museum
Former Plokštinė missile base, which now hosts Cold War museum (the only of the kind in the Europe as they advertise) was definitely a highlight of the day and probably of this whole trip (Hill of Crosses was also great, but I could hardly tell which was better, as both are definite must sees of the Žemaitija region).
There are only guided tours to insides of the museum-ex missile base. The museum (during summer time at least) is open 10 A.M. to 18 P.M., and every hour there’s an excursion, so if you plan to ever visit this place plan your trip accordingly so you do not end up waiting a full hour till the next guided tour.
The Cold War museum IMO is probably the best museum in Lithuania I’ve been to. It’s modern polish over Soviet times authenticity combined make for a really great and lasting experience. And a tour guide was also really great. A small pieces of her own childhood experiences of life near secret Soviet missile base thrown into her narrative made the tour so much better and personal 🙂
Pictures don’t do justice to this place, so if you ever have a chance just go and see this place for yourselve
After Plokštinė we drove to Plungė. Originally we planned to visit an art museum in Plungė manor and enjoy a walk in a beautiful park around the manor, but a cold and really nasty rain started to pour on us just as we’ve reached our destination, so eventually we decided to cut the stay and off we went after just a short stroll around.
Kretinga manor boast the only winter garden of its kind in Lithuania. And while the Kretinga museum inside the manor is just yet another museum and there’s nothing special about it, the winter garden is really impressive. Sorry, since one has to pay 10LTL per photo shooting permit, I’ve only managed to make few sneaky shots of the place.
In Kretinga we parted ways with one member of our crew who had to go back to Vilnius on some urgent personal matter. So it was only the four of us – girls only – to continue with the trip afterwards. After Kretinga our next destination was Pape Nature Park in Latvia, and, namely, our first great disappointment of the whole trip.
After reading so much praise on Pape Nature Park I was really hyped about visiting the place, and I kind of expected it to be another big highlight of this trip. Alas the hype was premature. I’ve known beforehand that a road to Pape was just a gravel road, but I’ve never expected it to be this bad. A Lithuanian outdoors music festival Satta Outside was taking part on the outskirts of Pape this weekend, so after some rather heavy rains and a lot of cars passing on this gravel road, the road was one hell of a muddy swamp and hardly resembled a road at all. I knew there was going to be a festival at Pape beforehand, but I kind of hoped that it won’t prevent us from visiting some places in Pape itself. I should have known better, and I might’ve saved us some time and kept a car mud caked free. Alas I’ve learned my lesson too late, so we’ve wasted some precious time going to Pape village on that terrible road or should I say we’ve sailed through some mud swamp to and fro.
After I gave up on Pape and decided to go to the rest of the places to visit in Pape Nature Park it was already too late. So I backtracked to a tarmac road and off we headed to the next Pape Nature Park destination – Savvaļas zirgs habbitat – only to find out that the visiting hours were until 18 P.M. (and it was like 17:20 P.M. already), and that the whole horses experience was a safari like experience. Hm, yes. I might’ve enjoyed this horse safari experience for 3EUR/person in a Latvian nature park and all, but trying to go off-road for that after a heavy rain in a Toyota Avensis… Nah, I’ve had my share of off-roading on this trip when I had to drive out of our campsite this very morning
So unfortunately at least for this time one of the probable highlights of the trip was unanimously marked as a failure. I might yet make an attempt to re-visit this park some time in the future, but in that case I’ll come more prepared and wait for some really good weather.
The Baltic sea, a storm, and a hot shower at last
While Lithuania has it’s small share of the Baltic coastline, I prefer the Latvian one to it. Mainly because there’s no trouble to find a nice spot on the beach where the only people are the ones you come with. A range of options to choose from campsites to some seaside resort towns/villages options also counts as a plus.
Since Pape was swarming with music lovers this weekend, we had to go almost all the way to Liepaja before we’ve found a place for the night. After checking a couple of campsites which were fully packed and there were no rooms for 4 available, we were looking for yet another night in our tents, and they were still soaking wet from the previous night. Yet none wanted to go all the way to Liepaja to look for that sacred room for 4 under a rain-proof roof, so in the end we’ve decided to backtrack and settle in one of the quieter campsites we’ve been to (Gaili campsite in Nica< Latvia). It wasn’t the best option, but it offered some peace and quiet after a really long day. So we unpacked and popped our tents hoping they’d get dry until the night came, and went to the beach. When we got back to our tents, a campsite owner was looking for us. Some of his expected guests did not arrive so he had a room for us for the night. And that was a real blessing as we were soon to learn as a night with a storm with some mad showers of rain, lightnings and thunders, as well as plenty of cold winds was ahead. We’ve spent the night in a cozy and warm room, instead of cold tents, and sometime at 1 A.M. when the rain has stopped we even ventured on a nightly stroll to the beach to enjoy a good old storm at sea, only to find in the morning that were we to sleep in tents two of us four would have ended up wet and cold – one of the tents was leaking madly and there was a small pool of water inside of it in the morning.
Then it was Sunday morning, and Sunday was all about getting as much of the beach as possible. As the noon was approaching we’ve started to pack – it was time to go home. A ghastly rain, which caught us already en route, was yet another proof that we’ve chosen well deciding to leave early.
So I’m sort of officially done with Lithuanian regions. And I’ve seen plenty of Latvia for now. So what’s next on my list of summer car trips? How about Poland? Well, now I have a whole year to think about that and come up with something.