That time is soon approaching when I will be on the road again.
It’s so exciting!
You know, thinking about where to go on the map, planning it and then checking it’s still possible the way you thought it was.
Of course, it’s possible you say.
Did you know that if you wanted to get to parts of Wales from other parts of Wales using public transport, the easiest way, would be to go back into England or take the ferry coming from Ireland?!
I know this, because we’ve done this!
From Berlin. In Germany.
Spending a night. In Bristol. In England.
And then taking a train from Bristol. In England.
To Cardiff. In Wales.
And then picking up a car.
One day, I might just tell you the full story……..!
As you might have noticed unless we’re in America or the backwaters of the Welsh countryside, we don’t tend to use the car.
- Because I don’t drive. What! Shock & Awe!?$§!! Yeah, I bought a car when I was living in London, and used all my friends as my own personal driver. What can I say? I’m fancy!
- My husband – The Music Producer – doesn’t really like driving unless he has to. And in America, his medieval hometown of Osnabrück, in Wales. He had to. Alone!
- I like flying.
- I love the train.
- I’m one of those freaks who loves long-distance coach-bus journeys ‘cos I can get comfortable, cross my legs, and read!
- I love reading.
- I like looking through the window and watching the countries and landscapes change. You should see the changes from Germany to Holland, Belgium & France. It’s so obvious that you’re in a totally different country.
- I’m lazy.
- Using public transport is far better for the environment than using a car.
- The good old honest truth. Well, you can take as much luggage as you like and you don’t really have to worry about how much it weighs!
My husband gulped a bit and his lovely green eyes got even greener when I told him that not only were we going to the “other” Eastern Europe otherwise known as The Baltics, but we were going by long-distance coach-bus from country to country!
I’m a determined woman and normally get what I want so with the part-sponsorship of the largest international express route coach operator in the Baltic region, an Estonian company called Lux Express, we are indeed going through the Baltic Region by road from Germany, all the way through to Estonia, and back again!
We are also going to be taking to the waters by sailing across to Finland, with the sponsorship of TALLINK SLJA LINE. TALLINK is an Estonian shipping company currently operating Baltic Sea cruise ferries and ships from Estonia to Finland, Sweden, Latvia and Germany. We will be sailing with them from Estonia to Finland and back to Estonia.
However, I love my husband, and he’s not standing for total madness so while “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I saunter on, he’s flying back after a week with airBaltic!
I have been to 48 countries with 4 new countries coming up. Many of these countries I have been to over and over again.
Simply because I like them.
I’m strong-minded. Just because I’ve been there doesn’t mean that I can’t go back there again.
I do go back.
Again and again.
It’s never ever boring. Only different.
And for me, travelling is my pleasure not my work. My blog represents the business of me – The British Berliner – but everything I do and everywhere I go, is for my own and complete and utter pleasure!
Remember how I told you a fortnight ago that this blog was about ME.
Therefore, if I choose to go to Milan although I’ve been there five (5) times before, it’s because I want to.
I love Italy by the way.
Same goes with the way I travel.
Sure, I could probably fly for €50.00, but where’s the fun and adventure in that?
Live a little!
As much as I love travelling to my favourite regions of the world, one of the most interesting things about the Baltic Region is that I’ve never been there before. It’s going to be nice to go to a country with my family that is as new to them as it is as new to me.
So let’s have a closer look at the four (4) lovely countries that I’m going to.
WHY THE BALTICS?
The Baltic States might be small in landmass but the countries are considered to be old European in look, rich culture, enchanting history, old tradition. In fact, quite charming! In the last 6 years alone Vilnius, Riga & Tallinn were proudly inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for the wonder that is their unique architecture in their “old towns” and also as European Capitals of Culture designed to highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe and increase the sense of belonging to our common cultural area that is the European Union not only in 2009 and 2011, but also in 2014!
In 2015, it will be in Plzen, a city in one of my favourite countries, the Czech Republic.
Let’s be honest. How many of you have ever heard of Lithuania?
I’ll try my best to explain some history:
Lithuania is in the European Union and was part of the EU Enlargement in 2004, but is still a country that has yet to be discovered. It’s official name is the Republic of Lithuania.
Europe is fantastically diverse and enormously blended as a result, both the Lithuanians and Latvians are Balts by ethnic and linguistic origin and although separate independent countries, have closely related languages. Not only that, but Lithuania’s former capital was called Trakai and was the religious centre of the Lithuanian Karaites who were of Turkish origin, but also happened to be Jewish.
Lithuania was an independent state as far back as the 13th century, joined into a union with Poland in the 14th century, became a part of Prussia in the 18th century, forcibly became a part of the former USSR in 1940, established re-independence in 1991, and became both a member of NATO and the EU in 2004.
It’s a small country with less than 3 million people living there and on the 1st January, 2015, became the 19th EU member state to adopt the Euro as its national currency.
We’re proud of Lithuania!
it’s still early days and if you’re in the Lithuanian countryside, it’s likely that they weren’t invited to the ceremony so just in case: 1 Lithuanian Litas (LTL) is worth about €0.29 or $0.31!
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, one of the largest old cities in Europe, and is covered by countless churches. In fact, 65! It might have a population of only just half a million people, but all that history makes up for it!
Vilnius is a medieval cosmopolitan city known as “the Jerusalem of Lithuania” because of its strong Jewish past until WWII, “Little Rome” and “North Athens.” It’s also a treasure-trove of Baroque craftsmanship and a valuable and historical site of not only Baroque, but also Gothic, Renaissance, and other architectural styles.
I can’t tell you everything that we’re going to do as we’re not there yet, are we?
All I can tell you is that we’re absolutely going to go on a walking tour to get our bearings as you know that I love them so much having gone on a walking tour in Edinburgh, a walking tour in London, a walking tour in Bangkok, and an alternative walking tour in Berlin!
I’m thinking of going with the Vilnius With Locals walking tour. It’s a free walking tour and you tip whatever you think it is worth.
We’re only going to be there for three (3) days so this will be a sloooooow cultural family trip. We’ll check out some of the lovely churches and places of worship which are just bursting to be visited, we’ll pay our respects in the Jewish Quarter, we’ll ramble along the cobbled historical streets, and we’ll be trying out and tasting not only the tasteful Lithuanian cuisine but also checking out the Lithuanian soup, dumplings, and dessert, as well as Lithuanian beer and vodka!
We’ll be staying at a small family Bed and Breakfast consisting of just seven (7) rooms, and located between the Old Town and a park. This B&B is called Vilnius Home Bed and Breakfast and we’ll be in the Family Room.
Most importantly, there’ll be free WiFi, space to dump all our stuff after our long weary journey, and free breakfast. Everything a family with a young teenager needs!
Latvia, also known as the pearl of the Baltic States and officially as the Republic of Latvia, is situated in the Baltic Region of Northern Europe – on the shores of the Baltic Sea. I like the Baltic Sea and I’ve written about it before albeit from the Polish side!
Latvia is a multi-cultured state and right in the middle of Lithuania, Belarus, Estonia and Russia! As the Lithuanians, the Latvians are Balts by ethnic and linguistic origin and although separate independent countries, have closely related languages. The Latvians also have indigenous people called Livs and the two neighbouring countries both speak an Indo-European language and are the only two true Baltic languages that have survived.
Happily, all the traditions have merged together creating a unique environment, a vast cultural historical heritage.and a country-state of about 2 million people.
Latvia, is also a country not well-known and even within the E.U. itself, many Europeans have a hard time remembering what the capital city is.
It’s Riga by the way!
Although under various forms of foreign rule and invasion from the 13th to the 20th century, the Latvian people were able to hold onto their history and identity via their own unique language and musical traditions. The Republic of Latvia came into existence in 1918 but due to the WWII and the forcible incorporation into the then USSR, lost its independence. The famous Singing Revolutions of the Latvian people (a bit like the Von Trapp family in the Sound of Music) helped to motivate the people and independence was once again declared in 1991. Latvia became a member of NATO and the EU in 2004, was declared a “high income” country, and the Latvian lats replaced with the Euro as its national currency on the 1st of January, 2014.
We will be going to Riga which is the capital city, the largest city in the Baltic State Region, and also not only on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of its unique architecture in the “old town,” but was also one of the European Capitals of Culture designed to highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe, and increase the sense of belonging to our common cultural area that is the European Union, in 2014!
You might not have ever heard of Latvia, but are you sure you haven’t heard or seen pictures of Riga?
Riga is an elegant old European town nourished by Russian glamour and elegant Art Nouveau boulevards! It’s a metropolis pulsing with life, romantic walks and live music and celebration. It’s a medieval city that has been preserved and still shows traces of its religious and Romanesque past.
Do you recognise Riga now?
We’ll only be in Riga for three (3) days and thereafter, The Music Producer will depart and fly back to Berlin so that “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I will continue the rest of our Baltic cultural adventure together. There’s a lot to see in Riga so we’ll probably go on another walking tour such as the Yellow Riga Free Tour. I understand that it’s supported by the European Community programme Youth in Action, so why not. Right!? It’s an alternative free walking tour and goes outside the Old Town. Tip whatever you think it’s worth.
Of course, we’ll also check out the lovely Old Town itself. It looks gorgeous and perhaps also the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum. I quite like the sound of learning about the history and cultural background of a people. The rambling along the cobbled historical streets continues and of course, we’ll be trying out and tasting rustic Latvian soup, chops, and cheese topped off with Latvian beer, vodka and Riga Black Balsam!
We will be staying at a four-star boutique hotel in the heart of the old town of Riga. The hotel is called Hotel Justus. Hotel Justus lies right within the architectural UNESCO protected area, was a Bishop’s residence in 1210, was part of a tavern in the 20th century and has just 48 rooms designed to embrace the architectural charm and historical delight of Riga. We’ll be in the Family Suite which will have two separate bedrooms and a joint bathroom.
You cannot believe how nice it is to sometimes have separate but joint bedrooms when your child is still young, but very tall. In Poland, our B&B was lovely and quaint but my sons’ arms and legs were all over the place on our East European double bed, so I spent most of our holiday sleeping on the floor!
You cannot believe how many times we have tried to explain that even though he is a child, he isn’t a child-child. And in Asia, explaining proved to be too difficult so we just said he was a young adult since he was taller than most grown up men, and in Hong Kong, so was I LOL! We either booked a superior room in Bangkok, a wooden chalet in Chiang Mai, or went all out and rented a house in Bali.
Our son was 13 years old just last Sunday but looks like a 15 year old boy! The photograph above was taken just two years ago!
Once again, the most important factor for a couple and a young teenager is location (we’re right in the UNESCO centre.) Yay! History will come alive ‘cos we’ll be sleeping in it! Free WiFi, a flat screen TV, and a generous breakfast.
I’m pretty ecstatic!
This article is part-sponsored by Lux Express and TALLINK SLJA LINE, and the Tallinn City Tourist Office & Convention Bureau. We received a 72 hour complimentary Tallinn Card and we get a little discount on the hotels, but all opinions and the delicious food and drink that I thoroughly consumed, are my very own!
I have so much to share with you.
I’m going to be travelling to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, AND Finland!
I’ll tell you all about what we’re going to be doing in Riga in Latvia with the help of the Tallinn Card, what the view was like on the ferry crossing from Estonia to Finland with TALLINK SLJA LINE and what the plans are for Helsinki in Finland, in the coming weeks.
International Games Week Berlin 2015 is a leading cross-industry communication and networking platform for games businesss, development and culture, and will be taking place between April 21-26, 2015.
I’ll be going to TBEX Europe (Travel Bloggers Exchange) an International Networking Conference, for the first time! It’ll be taking place in Costa Brava, Catalunya, Spain from 30.04.15 – 02.05.15.
Strictly Stand Up English Comedy Night will be taking place at the Quatsch Comedy Club on 29.04.15.
Eddie Izzard will be back in Germany and will be front-lining a killer international night of comedy at the Admirals Palast on 08.05.15.
The Berlin Music Video Awards will be taking place from May 27.05.15 – 30.05.15. Anybody can apply!
The Berlin Fashion Film Festival will be taking place on 05.06.15.
I’ll be there. Will you?
If you’re not in Berlin in April, I haven’t a clue where else you’re going to be!
April is going to be refreshing.
See you in Berlin.
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