Excuse me for the delay, it’s not so easy to find a computer and a good connection in the country of vodka ! Before I tell you everything about my Russian journey, I wanted to come back on the two other Baltic countries I have visited : Latvia & Estonia. I didn’t have much time before the start of my Russian visa, I therefore could only visit the capital cities, Riga and Tallinn.
I hitchhiked to Riga, from the North of Lithuania, close to the border (I wasn’t very far away, about 200 km I think). A nice man took me, he only spoke Russian, Lithuanian and a tiny bit of German. And because I only speak a bit of German too, the way consisted more in trying to communicate than a real conversation… But it was nice. Until he left me in the middle of nowhere, where I had to wait around for over half an hour until another person took me. But it was worth it, this Latvian father of a family offered me coffee and did a huge detour just so he could let me right in front of my hostel, before leaving me his card, telling me to call him if I needed anything. Who said that hitchhiking alone was dangerous ? 😉
The hostel was fantastic, and I met really cool people there. Only a few minutes after my arrival, I found myself with a small team to go visit a war museum all together, in there :
I discovered on the way that Riga is a beautiful city (really!), clearly one of my favourites. There were plenty of parks everywhere (for those who don’t know, I am a fanatic of parks when I travel, you might see a few of those :P). For the rest, I will let the images speak for themselves:
The second day, my dear kiwi Harry even joined me (he’ was coming to get his Ukrainian visa done), he left without one the next day but I was happy, I could spend a last evening in his company, and he even left me a little souvenir in my notebook… 🙂
My next destination was Tallinn. I decided to hitchhike again and share the road with David, a Canadian met at Cinnamon’s Sally (the hostel in Riga), and who happened to go to the same place as me. We were soon taken by a weird guy who used to be a cop and an alcoholic and got over it because he ‘found Jesus’. Basically, he did some catholic propaganda the whole way, despite our desperate attempts to change the subject… We thus listened to him with respect, of course. (I have to say, the car right in front of us had the number “JC – something” on its plate. Funny coincidence, that I omitted to indicate to our driver in order to avoid him getting too excited).
The respect, we lost it a bit when he left us in the middle of nowhere (yeah, people like to do that apparently) and we had to walk for over a kilometer on the side of a highway until we found a tiny spot at a highway exit, because it was our only chance for someone to take us on board. I got a bit scared to stay stuck there for hours, because we were really not well placed, it was a bit dangerous, and it was SUUUPER hot. But luck was on our side that day, because a young Estonian guy almost slammed on the brakes for us when he saw us at the last second. A nice trip followed, with diverse conversations on the meaning of life, the world, all of that. 🙂
Once again, we were left right in front of our hostel, Euphoria, where we were welcome straight away by awesome people. There were loads of music instruments everywhere! I was able to jam with some of them, and we even joined them for a concert in the streets of Tallinn the next day, they are super-talented people, we had so much fun, it was awesome!!!
And I even did something crazy… I joined them for a song, totally improvising! It was very scary, but I am very happy I did it. (And in those moments, I definitely do not regret having taken my flute with me… 🙂 )
That’s not all, I didn’t only do music, I visited the city that is also beautiful !
Something really special that I visited there, with my new Australian friend Richard, and that locals call “choc tourism”… is an old prison. But not the kind of prison where everything is turned into a museum and exhibits, no, just the prison, as it was left when it closed in the beginning of the 2000s.
Already upon arrival, you understand that you would never find such a place in Switzerland or Australia… There were barbed wires everywhere on the ground, the kind of thing that can end very badly if you don’t pay close attention and fall over…
We go in, we don’t really know what to expect. We see a sign with written ‘hanging room’ on it ; inside, we see just a chair sitting in front of a hole. There was a smell of death in the air, we feel very bad, we understand that we are standing inside walls charged with a very, very grim history… We get out of there fast. The visit continues. We find all sorts of objects put there completely randomly, with remains of the life before, cupboards, posters…
Some cells still have beds in them…
On the way, we see loads of empty bottles, I remember reading somewhere that underground festivals were organized here… And then, in an aisle, the walls become alive.
It’s at the same time fascinating and confusing, disturbing, I become aware of the differences between young generations from my country and the ones here, the weight of a heritage of history that we don’t have. The pain from the past is visible on those walls, mixed with disgust of the present.
Further, and that will be the last stage, we discover an old operating room. I don’t want to imagine what kind of experiences happened in this place.
Syringes are lying on the floor… What a weird place. The worst part is that families are coming with very young children running everywhere !
We left relieved…
To stay on a more positive note, we did another tour of the city, that is lovely from heights 🙂
That’s all for the Baltics ! See you very soon for an article on Russia !