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Curonian Spit and Kaliningrad

Posted: 2006-07-05 11:27:22, Categories: Travel, Lithuania, Russia, 629 words (permalink)

Dom SovietovCuronian Spit is one of the most interesting places in the Baltic region. It's about 100 km long and only a couple of kilometers wide cape which separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. About half of the cape belongs to Lithuania, half to Russia. The land is sand dunes, but due to intensive forestation most of the dunes are nowadays covered by forests.

We (me, Mikko and Sami) spent one and a half days on the Curonian Spit. The unique natural landscape was definitely worth seeing, highlights being the desert of unforested sand dunes on the Lithuanian side and the 'Dancing Forest' on the Russian part. The latter was an area where pines had grown in various unusual shapes for an unknown reason. Must have been pretty funky dance music I guess. :)

The Russian part of the ride was together with members of the Koenig bicycle team, which came to meet us in Nida (near the border, on the Lithuanian side). Our group consisting of one tandem, one recumbent and four upright bicycles - equipped with two Russian and three Finnish flags - drew quite curious looks from the cars overtaking us. Crossing the border with the help of locals was a breeze. Even the customs officer helped us by filling one of the forms.

About 30 kilometers south of the Curonian Spit lies the city of Kaliningrad, where we spent two days. The city has a strange history. Once Koenigsberg, the glorious capital of the Eastern Prussia, it was mostly destroyed in second world war and taken over by the Soviet Union, which blasted away some of the remaining ruins in the city center with dynamite. Now the city and the surrounding region are part of Russia,most of the dunes are nowadays covered by forests.

We (me, Mikko and Sami) spent one and a half days on the Curonian Spit. The unique natural landscape was definitely worth seeing, highlights being the desert of unforested sand dunes on the Lithuanian side and the 'Dancing Forest' on the Russian part. The latter was an area where pines had grown in various unusual shapes for an unknown reason. Must have been pretty funky dance music I guess. :)

The Russian part of the ride was together with members of the Koenig bicycle team, which came to meet us in Nida (near the border, on the Lithuanian side). Our group consisting of one tandem, one recumbent and four upright bicycles - equipped with two Russian and three Finnish flags - drew quite curious looks from the cars overtaking us. Crossing the border with the help of locals was a breeze. Even the customs officer helped us by filling one of the forms.

About 30 kilometers south of the Curonian Spit lies the city of Kaliningrad, where we spent two days. The city has a strange history. Once Koenigsberg, the glorious capital of the Eastern Prussia, it was mostly destroyed in second world war and taken over by the Soviet Union, which blasted away some of the remaining ruins in the city center with dynamite. Now the city and the surrounding region are part of Russia, but geographically detached from the rest of the country.

Probably nowhere can three layers of architecture be seen so clearly as in Kaliningrad. The city center is a showcase of the blocky 1960's and 1970's Soviet state architecture, while in the surrounding parts remain many old German style buildings from the era before the war. New modern buildings appear here and there, and future plans include constructing skycrapers in the city center as well as rebuilding the old castle and parts of the old town.

Now we're already about 80 kilometers east of Kaliningrad in the city of Tschernjachowsk, and planning to cross the border to Poland later today.

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