It’s early morning, I walk David as far as the bankomat (ATM) so I can get cash to pay for my hostel and he continues on his way to the bus station and Riga. It’s really a shame, too. I kept joking with him during our crazy day that I was going to be completely stranded when he left since I didn’t speak ANY of the local languages. I had no idea how right I was.
So anyway, near Vilnius is a little resort town called Trakai. It’s in the middle of several lakes and there’s a castle on an island.
The Lithuanians go there for summer holiday and it’s fairly inexpensive to get to from Vilnius, so off I go. I catch a bus and plan on just wandering by myself, seeing the castle, then heading back, where I’ve got my own 18:30 bus to Riga to catch. I should know better by now.
I get to Trakai, head into the Tourist Information office and grab a walking tour map and head in the direction of the castle. At one point I stop to read what my guide says and I notice a girl, who had been taking pictures, is leaning over my shoulder and looking at my map. Of course, I shift slightly so she can have a better view and we start talking about the route to the castle. Well… we sort of start talking. She’s Russian, from Moscow, and only speaks Russian. Then I meet her two
friends, who also only speak Russian. This is the first time of the day I wish David had stuck around. Figure that every time I say something like “we tried to communicate” or “I wasn’t quite sure what she said” I was wishing David were with me. The reason for this day long wistfulness was that I ended up spending the whole day with Svetlana, Natasha and Dimitri, who were all on a day break from acrobatic school! We did a lot of gesturing and pointing and talking slowly and going back and forth and somehow we managed to communicate all day long. Svetlana and I were the photographers in the group (not that the other two didn’t have cameras, but we were the ones
who always had them out – especially Svetlana) and we were trying to find all sorts of interesting angles and different looks for things. She and I kept looking at each other’s screens, seeing how the shots had come out.
As we approached the castle, they got stopped by a guy who led sailing boat tours around the island. It was obviously more than I could afford by myself, but with the four of us pitching in, it wasn’t that bad so we went on a boat ride and got even more cool shots.
Then, inside the castle itself, they had mock-ups of cages and stocks and various other tortures. Naturally, we got pictures.
Back in Vilnius, we all decided to have dinner before they took off in their train and I went to Riga. Originally, we were going to go to a crepe place but for reasons unknown to me, we ended up at McDonald’s. While sitting outside eating
(Svetlana refused and got bananas) Natasha got very angry about America’s incursion into all things foreign, specifically McDonald’s (which, I found out from Imbi, is called Mackers in Australia). She was quite irate, which was actually kinda fun. Natasha had decided early on that she couldn’t be bothered trying to work it out, so she taught me a few Russian words and spoke to me in rapid fire Russian. I’m sure if I had stayed with them for two more days, I would be fluent – out of necessity if nothing else!
Afterwards, goodbyes were said, emails exchanged and I got on my bus for Riga. The bus driver was on a bit of a power trip and decided unlocking the bathroom was just something he couldn’t be bothered to do, so I spent 4 ½ hours needing to pee! The one stop we had, I didn’t have the money for the pay toilet. I finally went in Riga, before I left the bus station, and headed off to find my hostel.