Monday, 23 January 2012

Third destination : Kaunas

It was Sunday, the 9th of October I left for Kaunas in the evening to meet my friend Asta. It was my first bus trip in Europe. That day morning I had visited the Warsaw Zachodnia Bus Terminal to confirm the evening bus timings and also buy the ticket. Dorota had some appointment in the evening, so I had to reach there on my own. She showed me the bus stop near her place and the bus number. So accordingly I reached there but I was atleast one hour earlier. I sat on the benches, roamed around in the bus terminal and looked out if I can get something to eat which is not very expensive but still can stuff me. Finally I found one nice cafe and after looking at the menu ordered one Zapiekanka for 7 zł. Zapiekanka is an open face sandwich made from halved one foot bread topped with sauteed mushrooms and cheese. It was good enough. I kept going out of the terminus to check if my bus had been parked at the terminal or not. As this time I didn't wanted to catch my bus at the last minute. I was skeptical enough to miss it. Finally I saw my bus parked at the terminal. It was a Simple Express night bus from Warsaw to Vilnius via Kaunas. While waiting to board the bus I met one Indian couple living in Warsaw who had come to see off their Indian friend from Ukraine who had come to visit Warsaw for work.

Let me say something about Asta Mineikaite from Kaunas, Lithuania.  Well I met her in September 2010 while she arrived in Ahmedabad for a year's internship.  Along with other friends we enjoyed almost every festival of India.  Had lots of philosophical talks.  Had lunch almost every week along with other friends.  Many times she used to be my pillion rider on my bike while going to office and also while coming back from office.  We had our small quarrels and arguments too few times, but just for a day or two and then things got sorted out, mostly on FB chat.  I guess this helped us to know each other much better.  It was quiet exciting that I was going to meet her in just 2 months after she had left India.  

My bus was suppose to arrive in Kaunas at 04:45 hours in the morning.  The bus terminus building opened only at 06:30 hours and Asta lived on the outskirts of the city and from her place the first bus started only at around 05:45 hours.  So I had to sit and wait for more than a hour outside the bus terminus.  When the bus reached Kaunas the outside temp. was 4 deg. and it was really really cold.  No option but I had to wait for the bus terminus building to open and thank god it finally opened and I sat in the warm building waiting for Asta to arrive.  Finally she came and it was really nice to see her once again after she had left India.  Again  I wasn't able to still believe that I was meeting her.  Finally we reached her house.  It was a nice warm house and after a small nap and breakfast we decided to go out and see the city.  I also met her mother. I didn't know Lithuanian and she was not speaking English.  But still it was not at all hard to greet each other.
Church of Archangel Michael

We started with meeting Asta's friend on the university street and they exchanged a fish-jar.  I don't remember the story behind it right now.  And then we walked on the street and we kept on talking and walking.  We passed 2 young couples talking among themselves and one of the girl looked at me and pointing her finger towards me said something to the other one in the local language.  I suppose may be she must be telling her friend 'Hey look a foreigner'. 
University street of Kaunas

Well by now I was accustomed to such stares.  While in the metro in Warsaw or in the train to Poznan and back I was getting few stares.  But being a man I guess its easy to deal with such things than being a woman. I told this to Asta and she said to  me in a little sarcasm, so you see how you feel when you get such stares ?  She of course received lots of such unwanted stares during her stay in India.  We reached the Church of Archangel Michael and also saw the statue of a 'Naked man', though I don't know the name of it, but it could grab attention of any traveler.  

Other side of  the Artificial Lake
Then she took me to see the Kaunas Sea (Kauno marios), a large artificial lake created by damming the river Nemunas.  The lake is really a big one. It is used for producing hydro-electricity. Besides many people use this lake for rowing, sailing, swimming and of course under the warm summer sun the shores must be getting packed with people just lying down to relax and have some sun. There is also a nice yatch club running there. It was really getting very cold and windy. So we finally  decided to head back to the center.  We needed to have something warm and so we sat in a nice restaurant  and ordered some Hot Wine.  First time in my life I was having it and loved it.  It was a wonderful day spend talking and walking along side narrow roads with lush green nature around.  You don't get much of a chance to walk in nature like this in my city Ahmedabad.  Finally time to head back.  I had booked my return bus ticket for the next day night.  Back home Asta made for me blue berry dumplings.  Another first for me.  Never had tasted blue berries.  

Next day we had decided to go to the capital Vilnius, but somehow we both got lazy when we woke up.  So instead we took a stroll on the back side of where Asta lived. We walked and talked and I was just like WOW.  There were small clean ponds, open farm lands, apple trees in the backyard of houses, autumn flowers and the sun was shining bright.  We were walking around on a lovely morning. Soon as if the clouds had swallowed the sun, the sky was grey and it seemed it will rain.  So we headed back home and it started to drizzle.  Luckily we reached home in time.  Sitting at home we thought of watching a movie.  After shuffling between few we started watching a Portuguese movie shot in Brazil.  Was a nice movie.  Time went past and my 2 days in Kaunas with Asta were almost going to end.  So before leaving we decided to have a dinner together.  Who knows next when we are able to meet up. So Lithuanian dinner to end my trip to Kaunas.  We went to a very nice restaurant which had a very traditional ambiance.  So it was mashed potatoes with cheese, mushroom cutlets and boiled beetroot.  Dinner was delicious.  Finally it was time for me to head for the bus stop.  Before leaving Asta had packed me some Lithuanian chocolates for the Orchidian's back in Ahmedabad and home made cake for Dorota and Bartek.  It was so very thoughtful of her.  
Traditional Lithuanian food.

So once again I was at the bus terminal and I had to wait there for the bus for about 70 - 90 minutes.  My bus was to depart at around 23:30 and the terminal building closed at 22:30.  Once it got closed was so lonely at the bus terminal.  I came across 2 drunk men asking me for a light.  While sitting on the bench one very weird lady taking baby steps kept walking towards me and was also kind of staring at me.  What to do?  Finally got up from there and sat on the bench at the small bus stop.  Finally the bus arrived and I was on my way back to Warsaw.

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