Vilnius, capital of Lithuania 1223miles
Just said goodbye to Ewen who organised an excellent four day break in Vilnius for himself, Hosie, Bob, Grant and myself. The Scotland football team managed to beat Lithuania 2-1. And I'm told it's the first time someone's ridden so far to come to a game - I may found the Tartan Army Motorcycle Display Team. Can you have a 'team' of one?
The official local reports say the Scots fans brought "colour and fun" to Vilnius. The reaction from the locals was always positive and wearing our kilts seemed to cheer them up! Vilnius itself is small but perfectly formed. The architecture is very ornate and attractive. The buildings in the Old Town centre are painted in pastel shades with white decorations round the windows and roofs. They reminded me of cakes, with the icing round the edges - so the Lithuanians seem to live in huge colourful cakes. Very pretty. I'd recommend anyone to put Vilnius on their list of weekend breaks to be had.
We stayed in an excellent B&B where the kind owner let me put the bike in his garage. After five days and 1200 miles it was in need of a little attention. A day of that and then I was able to join in the tourism.
The ride here was much the same as when I came two months ago. This part of Europe is quite flat and uninspiring. The iPod certainly helped keep me awake at times. However, there was an advantage in passing through places I'd seen before. Navigational mistakes from last time were not made and I remembered good parts. I stayed in the same hotel in Kevelaer in Germany as before and then had lunch at the same Pizza shop in Poland a few days later. The border guard happily stamped my passport as I came into Lithuania, beginning the collection.
Back on the road tomorrow, heading for Nuremburg in Germany and some friends who've offered me a bed. It should be a few days until I get there, back diagonally across Poland and then the Czech Republic. More news then.
A PS sent by Ewen which will interest/entertain;
Tartan Army Tales
Was speaking to Joan at work today (who we met in Vilnius). She was telling me the experiences of some friends of hers who were also in Vilnius....
On the way through town on the Weds night, there was a group of 5 or 6 footsoldiers who were approached by 3"dodgy" Russians/Lithuanians. The 'locals' were not a terribly friendly bunch and the encounter resulted in the locals pulling a knife on the Scots lads. A demand for money was the natural next step and a stand-off ensued. Relations were rather tense at this point, when the footsoldiers decided to utterly bemuse their assailants by launching into a highland fling...
This retaliation through dance was enough to defuse a very difficult situation, with the confused locals unable to respond, as they then proceeded to melt into the night - presumably to pick on someone other than kilted dancing-men!!
An outrageous but true encounter! One for the annals of T.A. history :)
Children please note - Scottish Country Dancing can get you out of all sorts of trouble!