Klaipėda (20 June 2013)
I continued along the train route from Šiauliai to Klaipėda. After dumping my huge backpack in a locker at the train station, I set out to explore the city of Klaipėda before crossing the sea to the Curonian Spit.
The train station is quite a distance from the old city centre but I decided to leg it. The walk took me at least 20 minutes when I include the times I went the wrong way or took a longer route. As usual I had overestimated my ability to find the way. Leaving my backpack at the train station also meant that I had to return to the train station to collect it and then go back to the old city centre to get to the ferry terminal to catch my ferry to the Curonian Spit. And for some strange reason I refused to take the bus! But since I did not know if there were any lockers in the old city centre, I thought it safer to leave my bag at the train station. Maybe I should have done more research on this.
Klaipėda, formerly known as Memel, was German territory for many centuries. It is not difficult to notice the German influences on many of its buildings. Even the people there seemed somewhat from those in the interior. I got smiled at a lot more. I never realised that I would appreciate a smile so much until I came to Lithuania.
I thought I would hit a museum or two while I was in the city. I started at the Museum of Lithuania Minor and found that I could get a combination ticket allowing me entrance to the Blacksmith’s Museum and Castle Museum too. I love it when people sell combination tickets like this.
The 3 museums together contain a collection of the city’s historical artefacts and memories and made for interesting albeit quick visits.
Little of the old castle is visible today unfortunately and only the mere ghost of it remains to remind visitors of its past existence.
I did not find that there were a lot of things to do in Klaipėda although I did have a pleasant day wandering about the old city centre. It was also really nice to be among people who were more willing to smile at me. I did feel more at home in Klaipėda because of that!
The best part of the city to me was the old city centre. However I did come across some other interesting buildings between the old city centre and the train station. I would of course see these buildings at least four times because I simply refused to take the bus between the old city and the train station, even with my gigantic backpack on me. Oh well, I love walking anyway and I really needed the exercise too.
Klaipėda is the gateway to the Curonian Spit and is therefore quite unavoidable if one wants to visit the Spit. But I would not have wanted to avoid it anyway. I remember the day I returned to Klaipėda from the Curonian Spit and felt like I had come back to earth. Being a die-hard city dweller, returning to a pleasant city from a more rustic location always makes me feel that way.
I would say that my impression of Klaipėda based on that short visit is pretty good.