Day 15: Liepaja to Palanga
I tucked into the hotel breakfast with relish. After 2 days of nuts, the bacon and eggs tasted good. I left Liepaja before the weekend holiday makers were up and about and had Lithuania in my sights.
First stop was Nica after 22km. It was a pleasant village set well back from the main road complete with a tourist office. The leaders of a huge group of cyclists heading towards Liepaja thought for a moment I was lost sheep. Not so.
Just before the border there were major roadworks. I had the delight of being able to ignore the traffic lights and ride on the compacted surface of the new road for about 10 km.
And then it was over the border and into Lithuania. The first one I’d crossed on my bicycle. There’s something about crossing borders. To me it’s a significant event, however seamless.
Shortly after the border I turned onto to the coastal path that started at the holiday town of Sventoji. It was packed with people thronging the paths and roads. The cycle path through the forests was a joy after the A11.
Arrival in Palanga was not so smooth. I didn’t know this when I stopped to ask some people cutting a hedge for directions to the tourist office as I couldn’t find my hotel. They rang the hotel directly to ask for directions, only to find a booking.com confirmation doesn’t always mean a bed for the night. As Palanga was so busy due to the holiday weekend it was a bit of a problem but I was reassured that they would help me find somewhere. A woman from the hotel duly arrived to fulfil her commitment to find me somewhere but in the meantime one of the hedge cutters had sourced me a room in one of her neighbour’s houses. It seemed a good option. My room was tiny but clean and the facilities were outside. The other guests were very friendly and I was taught some Lithuanian as we sat in the garden surrounded by herbs and fruit trees. My bicycle got covered with a blanket for the night. I was reminded of the German expression the couple in Mikeltornis had asked me about. Directly translated it would be: ‘out of unluck comes luck’. It seemed to fit this occasion, made even better because it was one of those lovely moments when strangers go out of their way to help.
I took a stroll out along the pier and also had a quick paddle. I liked Palanga. It was packed with holiday makers but not at all tacky.