Thursday, June 12, 2008

“Pagan and proud of it”

So says my travel guide (Let’s Go Eastern Europe) about the history of Lithuania. And I agree that the country seems to embrace its pagan past, which I’ve deduced primarily from the Hill of Witches in Juodkrantė, and also because they were the last European country to convert to Christianity. The Hill of Witches is a fairly long nature path decorated with carved wooden statues of witches, goblins, dragons, etc. representing different aspects of Lithuanian folklore. It’s a neat exhibit, particularly popular among Lithuanians on Midsummer’s Night/summer solstice (also a relic of their pagan past). One thing missing from the statues is any sort of identification of the figures or tales they came from, but I found a book in English on Lithuanian folklore to enlighten myself. One statue did have a name – Pasakorius, so I’ll read up on him first. I liked the sculptures so much I took a lot of pictures. Here’s Pasakorius:

My hostel was in Klaipėda, but I spent most of my time across the Curonian Lagoon in Juodkrantė. This area is along the Baltic coast of Lithuania. Though Lithuania has much shorter coastline than Latvia, it’s quite a unique place. In particular it’s characterized by the Curonian Spit (yes, I did mean to write “Spit”!) - a long thin peninsula of sorts that runs parallel to the Lithuanian coast and is full of natural wonders like sand dunes, as well as man-made wonders like the Hill of Witches and modern art statues (see the Klaipėda & Juodkrantė album for a picture of stone “sheep”). It’s easier to see how this is all laid out on a map, so here’s a map of Lithuania (Klaipėda is marked, but Juodkrantė across the lagoon is not):

Now I’m in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, which as you can see from the map is inland from Klaipėda, quite close to Belarus. So far my only news from Vilnius is that I managed to do laundry and eat. But I consider doing laundry an accomplishment. And with the terrible service I got at dinner, perhaps eating was an accomplishment too.


Sandra said...

I want to see those statues!! I wonder what that place is like at night.... is there dancing and sacrificing??

cg said...

The ROCK SHEEP are my favorite! How clever...