With Russia to the south, a lagoon towards the mainland and the Baltic out to sea, the Coronian Spit is a unique corner of Lithuania and Northern Europe. The spit itself is not only a beautiful national park, intertwined with cycle and walking paths, but also a UNESCO world heritage site due to the ever shifting sand-dunes which make it. The area is also a draw for german tourists (let’s be honest where isn’t), who come in search of the summer-house of Thomas Mann, a famous german writer, situated in the small town of Nida. This town is also where we stayed for our trip to the spit, in one of the most difficult to find guesthouses this journey had yet thrown us…don’t worry we eventually did.
The best way to see the spit was no doubt by bike, so we hired a few and optimistically attempted a 60km round trip up the spit, along amazingly maintained and picturesque cycle paths. We peddled along the calm lagoon shores and through the quiet forest, hoping for a sight of an Elk or even wild boar… It was all going amazingly well when Ryan “the puncture” Lindsay managed to get another one a few km from our nearest village. After unsuccessfully trying to find a repair shop, we had to give up and take the bus home. So of course we would have completed the entire 60kms, probably in some kind of record time, but unfortunately the bikes gave up before we did…we weren’t relieved at all!
Climbing up the golden, UNESCO protected sand dunes, you can get one of the best views from the spit. On one side you can see the lagoon and Lithuania in the distance, on the other you have the Baltic sea, and across the dunes, if you look hard enough you can see Russia. You can even go for a walk along the dunes right up to the border, but there are marked paths to make sure you don’t accidentally cross over. One thing we learnt in Russia… it’s not the kind of place you would want to mess with border guards! On top of the dunes there is also a huge sun-dial, which unfortunately wasn’t showing the right time when we were there, the sun obviously wasn’t on board. After climbing down and dipping our toes into the Baltic sea on a stunning golden beach, we tried the local fish that was of course complete with potatoes and beetroot…we were still in Eastern Europe after all.
Staring out across the water, watching herons fishing in the shallows, with the sun falling through the leaves of the trees, I could see why the tourists come to this part of Lithuania.
But the capital beckoned. It was time to head to Vilnius…