We got our visas! We are so so lucky.
After our trip to the embassy, we took ourselves to the main post office and sorted out posting our tent and cooking stove and a few other bits (altogether about 10 kilos) to Ireland. Pete admitted in the end that he got a bit of a kick out of the packing…
We’ll miss the autonomy our tent and stove gave us. We won’t find accommodation as cheap and cosy as the tent. We’ll probably find food that’s just as delicious as our own though. It’ll be good to be 10 kilos lighter when we’re getting on and off trains in Russia.
We took an overnight bus from Warsaw to Vilnius. This wasn’t so bad for me and I got some sleep, but Pete, being a good bit taller, struggles a bit on overnight buses.
We found a fantastic place to stay in Vilnius – an apartment sized room with a big sofa, tv and a hob so we could do a little bit of cooking. We practiced our noodles which we’re planning on making on the trains in Russia – instant noodles, some greens (such as spinach), vegetable stock, tabasco, pepper, some slices of ginger, boiling water and a squeeze of lime (for vitamin c)! Good noodles and good to have a nice place to chill out for a couple of days.
Vilnius is a beautiful and friendly city. The old town is fairly small and traffic-free. A highlight for me was the big Francisan church we came across (where one of the recordings is from). I’d read that lots of the churches in the city had been used as warehouses during the communist times. This meant that they were left to the elements really and not looked after. Mass was on when we came across this church and it looked really amazing because inside was just bare stone, all the paintings and frescoes were mostly completely faded, there were really simple benches for pews and just really bare, crumbling, walls.
Another thing we learned was that in 1989 there was a human chain which started in Vilnius and stretched through the whole of Lithuania, into Latvia and on to Tallinn in Estonia – millions of people over an astonishing 650km. It was the anniversary of a deal between Hitler and Stalin to divide up Europe – which led to the Baltic states being included in the USSR, and people were bravely protesting.
There’s a glass covered paving stone, with the Lithuanian word for miracle, Stebuklas, written in a circle, on the spot where the hand-holding started. As we were standing looking at it we met a Lituanian woman who was 6-years old at the time, and took part in the protest.
We were walking to the bus stop on our last day in Warsaw (having just received our visas) and we saw one of those mileposts where they point out distances to cities. I saw that we were 1444km away from London and I thought, yeah we are getting a bit far away now I guess…
And then I thought, hang on, that’s only a few hundred kilometers more than the distance from Brisbane (where some of my family lives) to Townsville (where some of my family lives)!
I know that these distances are “as the crow flies” and our route hasn’t been anything even remotely resembling that of a crow flying in a straight line, but still… Actually I just had a look on the map page and I think our route has been a shambles right from the start – let’s face it.
I knew all this stuff about distances before but I guess every now and then it gets driven home a bit. Here’s another one: The distance from Perth (where some more of my family lives) to Brisbane is over 3600 km which is 800 km more than the distance from Dublin to Moscow!
If you’re interested in this kind of thing, the first thing you should do is not worry – it’s probably just a passing phase – at least that’s what I’m telling myself even though I can hear my inner voice getting more and more weedy, nasal and nerd-like… The second thing you could do is take a look at a site like this:
Well anyway, enough of all that…
We ended up spending a bit longer in Poland than we expected so we’re going to have to skip a few places that we thought we might visit so…
We’re off to St Petersburg tomorrow!