Tour "From The Baltic To The Black Sea" Report - Klaipeda, Lithuania - 26 June 2005
John Dennis Clark III
Have you ever heard the story of the Old Town by the sea? Founded back in 1252, Klaipeda is the third-largest city in Lithuania. Ravaged in World War II when it was used by the Germans as a submarine base, the city is now undergoing a major business revitalisation. As a key port city in the European Union, it is a window to the world of international trade for Lithuania.
Klaipeda's Old Town has been on a continual path of restoration and is the gem of the city, featuring cobblestone streets and antique lampposts on nearly every building and corner. The city, once known as Memel, still has a German feel in places.
The tour has begun with 80 riders in the center of Klaipeda with town officials wishing us well at the beginning of our jouney. Our route carried us southward to the small fishing village of Minija where a chartered ferry carried the group across the channel to the Neringa Spit into the town Nida. The mid-summer night celebration of Rasos Svente or the Christianized name of Joninies, celebrating the summer equinox, was in full force with fires, dancing and traditional music. The group camped on a sheep farm near the village Preila. The bike trails are well marked, smooth, without holes appearing to be well maintained. Nida is about twice as expensive as the rest of Lithuania.
Tonight the tour will stay in a sports hall near the city center and will be east bound tomorrow morning.