EXTRA EDITION!

As it was in the balmy mid to upper twenties yesterday, we were able to spend some time out and about in Klaipeda  taking more photos so, knowing  we have  things planned for this  weekend, I thought I’d  post another blog so there would not be so much at one time.

As our Valentine’s Day evening out didn’t turn out so well–all the tables at the restaurant “XII” we had chosen were “reservated” so we settled on an inferior restaurant—and meal–close by.  Being such a considerate husband, Chuck decided he needed to make it up to me somehow (even though I also got a lovely rose) so he actually took the afternoon off  (he has no classes on Thursday) and took me back downtown for lunch at the “XII.”  It was a most pleasant experience. The restaurant is located on the 12th floor of the hotel Amberton,  with windows all around to view the city  as we ate.  The daily  luncheon special for only 15 lita ($6) was not available as it was a national holiday –Lithuanian Independence Day–but the cook and waitress both remembered  we had been turned away on Tuesday night and said they’d make an exception for us.  Then, in addition, they brought us a wonderful dessert to share for free.  The lunch itself was just delicious–a real bargain for $6.

Grilled chicken breast on very tasty noodles served with half a baked apple, cream sauce, snow peas and a hot pepper sauce.

Klaipeda is Lithuania's only seaport and is very busy. We could view the loading cranes and ships entering the port as we ate.

View of the city

View of Old Town across the river

The restroom was interesting--like sitting in a window about 2 feet from a 12 floor drop--with strategically placed privacy glass--but still it made me uncomfortable.

After lunch we joined others in a pleasant stroll around Old Town.  We intended to visit the Blacksmith Museum: closed for the holiday!  Also the “Museum of Minor Lithuanian History”, which is not, as you might suppose, Lithuanian trivia, but a reference to this part of the country.

We visited a jewelry store selling only amber. I bought an inexpensive pendant  but the prices went very high if one were wanting to buy a really special  piece of jewelry.  What was most interesting was the private collection of amber objects they had on their lower floor.  It was very frustrating  I was not allowed to photograph these most interesting and unusual pieces. There was a large–maybe 3 x 4 feet– “picture” made of all different colors of amber carvings.  It was “priceless” we were told, being made by the artist who had restored the amber room in the Catherine Palace in St. Petersburg. We had never seen anything like it anywhere and it was truly impressive. (Google –the Amber Room, Catherine Palace St. Petersburg and it gives you some idea of what this piece looked like.)  I was surprised it was not in the Amber Museum instead of in the basement of a jewelry store.  Anyway, it was a bit of serendipity because I had not seen it mentioned anywhere in the tourist literature about Klaipeda.

The two types of art I see over and over here are wood carvings–many carved into a tree trunk–and metal art.  It is everywhere.  Here are some photos taken in Old town of some of the metal art and the fachwerk style of buldings built in the 18th century.

Notice the chimney sweep on top of this building. Note he is not on top of a chimney. We have no idea what he is doing.

Close up of chimney sweep

The frozen River Dane' and the Meridianas sailing vessel, built in 1948 and used by the Klaipeda Navigation School for training, Now it is just one of the sights of Klaipeda.

This says something like--General City Newspaper

Interesting building

Decoration on top of bulding

Some of the old fachwerk-style buildings--now used for art studios and such.

I like these windows with the old wood shutters

Theater Square --sometimes special events take place in this square complete with craft booths and touristy stuff. Hitler spoke from the balcony you see in March 1939 the day after Lithuania surrendered Klaipeda to Germany. The Germans called it Memel, and it had been part of East Prussia before WWI.

Those of you who follow John’s blog already are aware of this –but for the rest of you I share this charming custom of Klaipeda’s brides and grooms. (It seems appropriate for the week of Valentine’s Day.)  Before the wedding, the couple buys a padlock and on the day of the wedding, they attach their lock, with their names and the date inscribed,  to the bridge and throw the key into the Dane’ river–symbolizing the permanence of their love for one another.  Eventually the bridge gets full of locks, then cut off by the city–kind of sad for some I am sure but, given there is a high divorce rate here as in the U.S., there are probably several couples who can’t wait until their locks have been  removed.

Mindaugas, the name of the first king of Lithuania (crowned in 1253) is a popular name here.

I actually took this particular photo a while ago–before the river froze.

I managed to take about 100 pictures yesterday but I think this is about all you can take at once.

Labanakt (GoodNight)

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