18th August, 2019
The coast of Lithuania is relatively short – and her principal seaport is the town which we approached this morning just before breakfast time and is one which I have not visited before.
Klaipeda sits at the mouth of the Dane River on Lithuania’s west (and only) coast. The capital of west Lithuania and its 3rd largest city, it has a fascinating history as well as an old town well worth roaming around.
We entered the lazy river, with only 1 knot or so of ebbing current, and swung the ship short-round about a mile or so upstream before backing further up toward our berth. Ideally located next to a fork in the stream which runs through the centre of the town, we were safely docked by 08:30.
A wander along the riverside up to the city centre only takes 10-15 minutes, although of course we provided complimentary shuttle buses for those who wished to save their energy for exploring the town centre – from Theatre Square to Sculpture Park, this university town has plenty of attractive sights, bars and waterside restaurants to enjoy.
Our tours today ventured off near & far, into the countryside to local villages as well as staying more local to explore the sights & history of the city itself. One such trip into the countryside invites guests to the home of a chap named David Holliday; Lithuania’s first British Defence Attaché, appointed in 1990 after it was re-granted independence from the USSR. He will personally tell guests tales of his time as a bomber in the RAF and explain his role in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
I opted for an easy stroll along the riverbank in the sunshine toward the city centre, with a cool refreshment in the form of an ice cream in mind. Disappointingly, it was noticeable that the opposite riverbank seemed to sport ice cream stalls every few hundred metres however the side upon which I strolled offered only bars & restaurants. The nearest bridge was half a mile or so upstream, and I made my way there with the intention of crossing over to enjoy a nice 99 with a flake… or Lithuanian equivalent.
However, just as I arrived at the bridge to my horror it started to elevate, permitting water traffic to pass through unobstructed. I had to wait a further 15 minutes before eventually handing over 2 Euros for a cool, squishy, fast-melting chocolatey offering which I made extra sure wasn’t dropped on the river bank (or down my front). After a pleasant wander around the old town, bumping into some Saga guests doing the same, I found an old sailing ship-cum-restaurant moored on the riverbank and decided to sample some local delights having bumped into Len, our Chief Engineer, on my wanders.
Late in the Sunday afternoon sunshine, it was time to sail back down the river again and out into the Baltic, giving the bustling riverbanks of Klaipeda a friendly toot on the whistle as we left.
Captain Kim Tanner
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