Sventoji (Lithuania) to Gdansk (Poland)

Day 24 – Sventoji to Klaipeda (Lithuania)

Having discovered that the 30km to Klaipeda was mainly bike path, we were looking forward to a very relaxing day’s cycling.

We set off from our campsite in Sventoji (Lithuania’s Costa del Sol) at around 9.30am. The bike path wound its way South along the beach front, generally surrounded by tall pinewoods. We passed several seaside campsites and many cyclists out for a leisurely ride.

Around 20km into the day, the well signposted bike path came to a halt and we had to struggle past a section of roadworks for about 1km but fortunately this was only temporary and we met up with the bike path soon after.

We passed a strange sign warning of some kind of insect but decided we were better off not understanding it. 

We then passed a communist block stadium and shortly after that, we reached the outskirts of Klaipeda, where the path took us over the railway and into the city centre.

We headed for tourist info (stopping very briefly to take a snap of on old ship), as we needed to find out about ferries to and accomodation on Neringa (Lithuania’s half of the Curonian Spit).
There we were advised that the ferries went every half hour and that there was only 1 place to camp on the Spit. As this was over 50km away and it was mid-afternoon, we decided to stay the night in Klaipeda and catch the ferry early the following day.

As there are no campsites in Klaipeda, we decided on a rare night’s stay in a hostel (Kubu Hostel) and spent the remainder of the day there, freshening up and doing boring internet stuff.

Day 25 klaipeda to Nida

Got up real early hoping to catch the first boat to Smiltyne, which is the closest point to Klaipeda on the Neringa portion of the Curonian spit, only to be told that the boat didn’t set sail until 9am (which only meant an hour wait but also meant we had had an hour less sleep than necessary).

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The water was calm, sun was out and no wind. Onboard, we climbed to the top deck and snapped a few pictures, and only five minutes later we arrived at our destination (a stones throw away!). 

We checked the map and followed the Eurovelo 13 and local 10 bike route, which consisted of 50km bike trail in a protected national park (wild camping is illegal!)before reaching the Russian border. The trail took us through forests, with winding paved, but a little rugged paths, with the occasional slope. 

We stopped to check out the closest beach to Smiltyne port. The sand stretched for miles and had a scattering of people already sun worshiping. We snapped a picture and left. 

We did want to go to the beach but wanted something a little more secluded, so followed a perforated line on the map, (which looked as if it led to the beach). In fairness it did but there was no access over the dune, so, we walked our bikes along another path to get to the steps. If we’d waited a few more minutes our route would have led us there anyway, never mind. 

We padlocked our bikes and headed over the dune. The beach was perfect, few to no people, it was relatively warm, water was clear and still. This was a perfect moment for Vanessa to take her first dip in the Baltic sea ( Jon of course was already in, whilst Vanessa was just prepping and analysing the situation). After a few deep breaths, Vanessa dipped into the Baltic, Freezing at 17 degrees!! She didn’t stay in long. 

A further 10km cycle, we reached a sign to one the busiest towns called Juodkrante. First we had to climb over a steep 1 km hilly section. At the top Vanessa sped off down the other side, not looking back until reaching (what she thought was) the end of the path. Jon had a bit of traffic when descending and noticed that the path split and took the other path. This meant that for a brief 15 minutes, we had in fact lost each other. Vanessa climbed back up the hill, took the alternative path (which she hadn’t noticed on her original descent) and a few laps around town. Finally, finding Jon near the waterfront. We both giggled a little, then went in search of the tourist information office. We asked about the famous ‘Witches hill’ and realised very quickly that we had not needed to ask as the reverse of the map we already had, showed the location of this very well.

We ate lunch first by the seaside then walked up the famous ‘Witches hill’ , which hs lots of wooden sculptures along the way. We snapped photos and discussed what an interesting but unusual exhibition this was. 

We continued cycling for a few more kilometres before reaching a bird sanctuary. Which hosted a colony of Herons and Cormorants. At the top of the platform you could see hundreds of nests at the top of the trees and tons of birds flying around. 

We took off again, enjoying the scenery, no traffic and shade, as it was now pretty hot. Reaching the 50km mark and Nida. We checked out the information centre for boat times to Vente or Silute the following day, looked at the mini festival and then rode to our campsite (which happened to be over another large hill. 

Once at the campsite, we pitched our tent, showered, ate dinner, had a beer, then headed up Parnidzio dune for sunset (which happened to have a random violinist playing a beautiful tune behind a tree) great ambience!

Foot note: Jon did cycle the extra 2km to check out the Russian border but came back stating that there really wasn’t too much to see, except for a nudest beach nearby. 

Day 25 – Nida, Neringa (Lithuania) to Gdansk (Poland).
This was very much a transit day. We awoke from a storm interrupted sleep at Nida campsite. The tent was a little wet but soon dried. 
Due to our not having a Russian visa, we unfortunately had to leave the Eurovelo 13 route along the Curonian spit at the border and travel around Kaliningrad before rejoining the route again in Gdansk (Poland) where the Eurovelo rejoined after Kaliningrad. Not ideal but necessary.
We set off early and rode the 1km over the hill to Nida port, hoping to catch a ferry across the Curonian lagoon to the Lithuanian mainland early in the day (tourist info had been a little vague on departure times).

We got there shortly before 9am and spent an hour and a half waiting. There were 2 possible ferry destinations; both similar distance from Nida and involving similar length cycles afterwards to our next stop in Silute. We agreed whilst waiting that we would catch the first ferry to arrive, just in case the second didn’t show. As per usual, 2 boats arrived at once and we both headed initially in opposite directions…In the confusion Jon’s beloved water bottle (acquired in Torres del Paynes) was left behind…Calamity!

Safely aboard (minus bottle) we enjoyed a slow and relaxing (if noisy) boat trip, with only 2 other passengers (a German couple from Nuremberg, who offered us accommodation if our route took us there), to the very small port of Ventaine.
Once disembarked in Ventaine we set off by bikes the 24km to the town of Silute. The roads were quiet and flat, with a slight tail wind (about time too!) so we covered the distance pretty quickly and arrived there shortly after midday.
From there we caught a bus (3 hours) to Lithuania’s second biggest city Kaunus, which had a fancy bus terminal/shopping centre. We had half expected to be staying the night in Kaunus but were informed by the gentleman at the information desk that it was possible to catch an overnight bus to Gdansk, leaving at 10.40pm and arriving at 6.00am the following morning.

We were keen on saving a day’s travel so did a shop for the equivalent of 3 days cycling, loaded the panniers (mostly Jon’s) and caught the bus to Poland.