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Hi there! You're reading my Bliki. I came back from a 10-day trip around the Baltic countries yesterday and I have a lot of things to talk about.
Now of course you didn't come for a generic travel blog there's tons of in and around the internet. I've got you covered. When visiting the following places, I looked around for the small things, urbanism, post-war architecture and public transport, and how I can use what I see for my work here at OGF.
What a buzz in Vilnius
I woke up in the bus at around 6:30 am, so I got to see a really beautiful sunrise over the Lithuanian nature, which isn't any less beautiful. My stay in Vilnius was very pleasant. I lived in a hotel in the suburbs - if you've been following me for some time now, you're familiar with the term sídliště, and if not, look it up. Upon arriving I discovered there were 4 supermarkets near the hotel, so being the adventurous person I am, I went shopping for groceries.
Coming from the country that's also nicknamed Europe's dumpster, I thought the supermarkets were very nice. What was also great was the many different sorts of pastry and cookies, and the unforgettable chocolate-covered cottage cheese bars. There was an entire shelf dedicated to chocolate-covered cottage cheese bars. They had a lot of flavors. It was amazing. And cheap. I enjoyed myself and almost got sick from how many I ate.
Vilnius is an enjoyable city otherwise. The old town reminds me of some smaller cities in Middle Europe, but is very cozy and quiet, and there's not a lot of tourists. It's surrounded by endless apartment complexes from the 1970's, and once those end, it's forests on forests on forests. There's buses and trolleybuses in the city. I had the pleasure to ride a Vilnius bus and aside from the vibrations and strange rattling noises coming from the engine, it was pretty comfortable.
A Bodega in Riga
Riga reminded me of the Czech Republic a lot. Because of the architecture, and also because of the trams. There's the exact same trams in Riga as in Prague, just in different colorways. Out of all the cities, Riga also felt the most like a real metropolis.
Since shopping for groceries in different parts of the world has basically become my thing now, I took it to the closest convenience store I could find. The cashier was rude and she didn't give me a receipt. Ahh, feels just like home.
The core city is clean and I liked it a lot. Going more uptown there's a lot of vacant commercial space and gaps in between buildings, but I felt safe and comfortable in the city even at night.
On the way back I stopped in Daugavpils, which is the second largest city in Latvia.
Ballin' in Tallinn
People I've asked told me Tallinn is the prettiest from the three. I can't disagree. It definitely felt the most 'western' out of them- I felt a strong Germanic vibe, though with Russian influences here and there. From what I saw, the city has the most modern public transport network. Maybe it's because of the colorways (red stripes for trams, turquoise for buses and green for express lines) but public transport vehicles look kind of posh in Tallinn.
Estonia is a lovely country. I made a stop in the National Park Lahemaa and the nature was so beautiful. I stayed awhile and just took in the silence and serenity of the place. If hygge was a location, it would likely be Estonia. (Is hygge still a relevant trend in 2017?)
What even rhymes with Saint Petersburg
Here's the thing: everything's balshoye in Saint Petersburg. There indeed are many impressive grand buildings in the center, all the churches with golden spires are exclusive AF and there's blini and pirogi, but it seemed to me that in all the rush to make the city the most imposing in the world, the architects somehow forgot people have to live there too.
Nievskyi prospiekt (the tourist guide called it Petersburg's 5th Avenue) is the main shopping street in the city, but if you're expecting some high-end promenade, you're very mistaken. In reality, it's one of the dirtiest streets I've ever been on, and it's lined with questionable 'haute' couture boutiques and bizarre souvenir shops (my favorite thing I saw is a 75 cm tall sculpture of Putin riding a bear.)
The next day the city had woken up into a suffocating smog situation, so I escaped to the Winter Palace (the entrance is free for ISIC card holders.) I wasn't ready for the overwhelming amount of decoration. One of the first things I saw was a golden... what even was it? It looked expensive, so I took a photo. As soon as I entered the next room I realized apparently everything is golden in the palace for some reason, and my eyes started to hurt a little.
On the last day I had a quick stop in Pskov. After being greeted by a giant Lenin statue and loud double buses that made sounds which suggested the second part is going to get on a journey of its own any minute, I stopped in a local church and donated all my ruble change (50 rb, which was about 70 cents, but a solid handful of coins), decided that was enough Russia for me and crossed the border back to Latvia (which was a process that took 3 hours, most of which was waiting for the officers to return from smoke break.)
Designer shelters I saw in Warsaw
Last but not least, I took a very brief walk around the Warsaw city center on the way back. Don't get me wrong, Warsaw is a beautiful city, but after being in Russia for four days, nothing really shocked me anymore. I was glad I was back home in Europe, and the city seemed familiar to me though I've never been there before. I love Poland.
I noticed these public transport shelters in Warsaw. I love them. The sleek minimalist design is amazing, the only thing that concerns me is that they must be really hot in the summer. But otherwise I'd say they're really elegant and fit in well with the city.
To conclude this, I saw many inspiring things during the trip. I learned that just grand buildings are not enough, and sometimes small things such as public transport shelters do a lot.
Comments are v appreciated
And sometimes... things that are expensive... are worse.
The sentence above fits very accurately to the shelters from Warsaw. They were two times or more expensive than they should (according to prices of the shelters from other polish cities) and totally useless. In summer there is, as said, really hot under them but really problematic is when its raining because the roofs are too small for our needs. And they don't allow passengers to hide from the cold autumn and winter winds. There was even a speculation between urbanists and city activists, that it was a huge malversation bying them but the question is still unclear. Anyway I'm glad that your journey went good (and that this useless shelters are though pretty). Rustem Pasha (talk) 21:08, 2 October 2017 (CEST)
The irony - on your picture the shelter on the left has a "1000-whatever new shelters" ad on it. [whining]Damn Warsovians have too much money to spend, whereas the biggest metropolitan area of the country doesn't even have a solid S-Bahn system. But that's Warsaw milking the rest of the country of all there is (and especially Silesia).[/whining] --Trabantemnaksiezyc (talk) 21:54, 2 October 2017 (CEST)
- Ah, also Vilnius buses are notorious for fires and lack of maintenance, so nothing special that the bus has made weird noises :) --Trabantemnaksiezyc (talk) 21:57, 2 October 2017 (CEST)
- Oh no, knowing how it goes in Central Eastern Europe I immediately thought to myself, 'wow, there must be something wrong with this' and sadly, that apparently is true. Prague threw out almost 20,000,000 € for an electronic chip card ticket system in 2008, only for that system to be discarded and replaced eight years and another 45,000,000 € later, if that makes you feel any better. --Eklas (talk) 22:02, 2 October 2017 (CEST)
- Yes I know these two things don't rhyme THANK YOU also I tried um like can you come up with something that even vaguely rhymes with Riga? I don't think so so save the judgement for Jesus you hater