20 July 2006:I slept quite a lot, granted my trip’s program. In the morning, the waking was around 8:15. The attractive breakfast was all I needed to get a good strength for the rest of the day.
Our morning agreement was to meet with Suzis and Nida at the same place as with the previous day, around 5:30 in the afternoon (after their working hours). We would take a visit to the Trakai castle. After the visit I should meet Mindazzz (the friend from the forum that gave me his mobile), where he would drive me to the capital, Vilnius. So I packed my stuff in the morning, ready to move to Vilnius. I decided it would be a great idea to make a small trip by myself till the afternoon. I started traveling approximately 100km after Alytus, to take a look of what Alytus and the province were looking like. Except from the Nemunas river, which is the biggest in Lithuania, there were nothing really too interesting to see. All the small towns I met were almost similar between each other! While driving, I decided to follow a side-road to see where I would end up. The side road I took was going in parallel with Nemunas river. Following that road and for about 10 kilometers, it was continuously getting narrower up to the point that it was only one lane wide and vanishing into a forest. I kept on following it up to the point I reached an open-camp, with various sculptures in the middle of the forest. 30 meters besides me were the shores of the river, while a few hundreds of meter further, there were summer houses, half of them appeared abandoned while the other half had a lot of people. I sat at the camp for around 30 minutes, staring at the remarkable wooden sculptures and the river. After that, I begun my journey back in order to discover the other areas around Alytus. After all, I would meet the couple at 5:30pm.
According to what I had seen up to that point, I can say that Lithuania is a country of full and fast development, at least concerning the roads and factories. The basic salary for the average Lithuanian is around 300€, something that attracts various foreign investors, mainly due to cheap labor hands. As for the people, what I managed to conclude is that they are generally harmless people, kind and gentle enough, and a little bit mixed with the Soviet Union. When I say mixed, I mean they are of course happy that they earned their independence, but they’re not angry with the Russian population for what they did to them in the past years.
Drivers are acting a little bit weird; especially the ones driving BMWs and Mercedes, many of them are doing road show-offs, something that someone can see in Greece very often too. As for the English language, they’re in a descent level. Not all of them speak, but the ones that don’t speak are trying to help as much as they can. What counts is that everyone’s acting friendly. Also, I cannot hide the fact that they have an interesting attraction and awe for motorcycles, so when someone passes near them, they all stare at him like he’s an alien!
Around 5:30 I returned to the main square of Alytus, waiting for the couple. At about 6 they both showed up. Suzis with a yellow Suzuki 600cc 2004 model, while Nida with a green Kawasaki ZX-6R, while both of them were wearing leather uniforms. After talking for a while, we started the journey for the Trakai castle, where we would meet up with Mindazz. The castle was only 80 kilometers away from Alytus, and approximately 25 kilometers from Vilnius. Road was in a very good condition, full of forests, usual thing for Lithuania. Suzis was driving in front, with a stable speed, following Nida, and lastly me, staring like a stupid tourist the beautiful route ...
Arriving at Trakai city, I noticed that the purpose of this small town was only touristic: Many tourists on the sidewalks, walking up and down in front of the shops that were selling souvenirs. At the end of the road, the great unveiling: The castle, enchanting, like in the fairytales, build on top of one of the small islands in the lake, surrounded by small sailing ships full of people. It was a stunning landscape! We parked our bikes on a raised cafeteria-restaurant where you were able to watch the castle but also the rest of the big lake. The table was made of wood and was lengthy, same thing goes for the benches (it’s important that I’m telling this now). After ordering some beers and some nice eatable things (like flaky pastry with meat inside), we relaxed.
Around 30 minutes later, I was hearing a noise, a buzzing, getting louder and louder. I thought it was thunders, but the weather was clear. After a couple of seconds, and while the noise was getting louder, I noticed 20 motorcycles, in two parallel rows coming towards us. “Nice organized Lithuanian ride” I thought… Suzis turned his head towards me and told me “Hey! It’s Mindazzz, they came for you!”. That was the exact moment that I felt a great shivering conquering me. I was left surprised! Everybody was looking dazed the big motorcycle convoy that were approaching us. I was still stunned, didn’t knew what to say or thing! The bikes were various, many custom-made, a few sport-touring and only one or two on-off, but they had style!! Once parked, one after the other they came to our table and started greeting me. Most of them knew English, or so it seemed.
Very gently, 10 people picked up some other benches and connected them to our table. And by saying very gently, I mean, I pick the bench and I don’t give a damn if somebody’s sitting on it! Once everybody sat, beers and snacks were coming like rockets!!! A typical and acceptable question for all of them was how on earth did I land there, so many kilometers far from Greece. My question and surprise, on the other hand, was their huge interest to meet a foreigner motorcyclist… Mindazzz revealed to me that he posted a topic on the forum of motomanai.lt with the title “Lets go and welcome the Greek” !! The results? 20 bikes ... just for fun, just out of curiosity, just too interesting.
A big conversation followed concerning various matters, time was flying without even noticing it. Around 9 in the afternoon, we decided to leave the place. I greeted Suzis & Nida, thanking them again, due to the fact that I felt enormous gratitude and obligation. I boarded on my motorcycle in order to follow the big convoy. While I was preparing myself in the parking lot, Mindazzz took a t-shirt with their club’s logo “motomanai.lt” and gave it to me as a gift. I was surprised again ! Didn’t knew what to say… once more I was amazed by their attitude.
Nida wanted a photo of me wearing the t-shirt. Actually everybody wanted a photo. So, half of them were taking photos of me wearing the club’s t-shirt while the other half were taking photos of my bike, with the “GR” sticker on the license plate. After regrouping and a lot of rev up (.. up to the end!), just for fun, we started our route for Vilnius.
Around 15 kilometers before entering Vilnius, we did another rest-break in a “natural glade” that everybody used to hang in the summer days. We ordered a couple of beers and sat down to discuss various small things, mainly jokes (and mainly in Lithuanian language, but thankfully I also had a translator in English, Mindazzz). The view from the place we sat was astonishing, we were on a hill and we could clearly see the Nemunas River splitting in half a huge forest. After a few photos, we left the place and continued for Vilnius. The guys decided to go to the old town to have something to eat. En route, some guys left us, saluting me first. We were 12 people left, capable of course, to make our presence noticeable!
While reaching the old city, we stopped in front of a greek restaurant (Metaxas). “Guys!” I yelled, “It looks silly. I did 2.500km just to go and eat in a greek restaurant??”. “Oops, you’re right!!!” they answered. So we took our bikes again and went to sit to a classic Lithuanian eating-house that they knew. At the place we sat, I ordered a “cepelianai” (Zeppelin), the local dish of the country. It’s a stuffed potato with meat, dressed with milk cream, a very tasty, but also very heavy dish if you decide to eat it in the night.
While time was passing, I was starting to worry about my rest place, since time was already 10:30pm. I should find a hotel. Once I discussed this issue with the guys, assuming that they would propose to me a place to stay, they had .. other plans ! Romanus (one of many) suggested to me to go and sleep in his house, since he had a spare bed in his house. Once again I was left speechless from their hospitality. I tried to avoid it, but Romanus was too persistent for this. I explained to him that it seemed odd to me that he would risk on putting somebody that he didn’t knew into his house. He answered to me that he has already done this before in similar occasions and that he also find it normal to do it and especially for somebody that has come from so far away. I accepted his proposal and we started for his house.
Reaching near his house, he mentioned to me that the area had a parking too. It was a privately guarded parking, 300 meters from his house. The parking was guarded 24 hours per day and it would cost me 5 Litas (1,5€) for the whole night. Of course I accepted and parked my bike, took only the most important things and headed for his home.
His apartment was in our so-called worker’s residence, where most people still live there. They are typical remnants of the ex-Eastern Block. Entering Romanus’ apartment, I faced a small, but very warm and cute house. In the living room, there were 2 beds. In the first one, the double-bed, his girlfriend that was living with him, was sleeping. The second one was intended for me. I felt embarrassed that moment, since I thought I brought disorder in a way. Romanus’ behaviour made me overcome that feeling. I thanked him and went directly under the thick quilt, exhausted from that long day.