July 29, 2006

Nida and family


Some more of Lithuania again. Doesn't look bad, does it? This is the the view to the sand dunes in Nida, at the Neringa sand spit of the Lithuanian Baltic seaside. For the longest time Nida and Neringa was the most beautiful place that I've ever seen and could ever imagine.


After seeing half of the world, Nida is still the reference point for me ("almost as beautiful as Nida", "not nearly as pretty as Nida", etc). I think, New Zealand comes a close second.. :)


The amazing thing about Nida is that you don't have to do anything to feel on holiday and completely relaxed. The vast sunny sand dunes (the sand is cleaner and squeekier than I ever remember seeing anywhere else!)...


...the 90km long sand beach, the sea sometimes wavy (good for kite surfing!), sometimes still like a bowl of milk...


...beautiful pine tree forest covering the whole 90km of the sand spit (lots of berries and mushrooms).


This time the forest was so dry and hot, that it smelled like sauna! (no berries or mushrooms because of that)


I don't remember Nida this good, the weather was spectacular - not a cloud in sight and temperature around +25C degrees. This summer is a true summer of the childhood (childhood is when everything was better, brighter, the days were longer, the sun brighter, etc...) So we swam a lot and baked in sun (and came back much browner and healthier looking!)


In the olden days Nida was a small fishing village suffering from infertile soil and threatened by moving sand from the dunes. The valley in the picture is called the Death Valley - the old village was burried under sand here. Beautiful place, definitely, but probably not so good for seriously agriculture-minded, I think.


These days Nida is a prime holiday destination for families and pensioners (especially Germans!). Before the World War II Nida (and most of Lithuanian seaside) belonged to the Prussian empire. There are still people who had their homes here (or their families) that come down to Nida for a holiday or to buy a piece of property. You'd find Lithuanian and German menus in restaurants and most of the locals speak German rather than English.


The cross in the dunes is the mini version of the Hill of Crosses. I think it started with someone erecting a makeshift cross just for the hell of it (hmm, is it proper wording talking about crosses? :) And later on people started adding small crosses, making a wish, asking for things, the usual pagan idol worshiping, you know. Its a good place to leave your worry for someone else to worry about - I left one tiny cross too... To make someone to worry about our future. :)


And of course, of course, we had a lot of Svyturio, the best beer in the world. Kaj made a beer drinker out of me... :)


On the other hand, I made a Lithuanian food fan - a herring and zeppelin eater out of Kaj... :)


Nida was the final stop in our trip to Lithuania. The rest was scheduled and packed with relatives related activities. :) On the first day we had horse riding organised by my sister.


If you've been reading my blog diligently, you may know that my sister was crazy about horses since she was very small. She still rides horses these days and she really knows how to handle them. For me the horses are too big and too unpredictable.


So I took this oportunity to ride a horse with due caution... But it was excellent! I never knew what kind of interaction is really supposed to go on between you and a horse, before Loreta, the horse owner, explained me how to really ride a horse. I'd just sit on it like a piece of wood and do nothing. I though that the horse reacts, because you're giving voice commands and kicking its sides. But there's really much more than that, your whole body is supposed to work and tell the horse to go or to stop. You're basically supposed to pull the horse forward with each step that it makes. Really cool!


Then we went to visit my grandmother in Rokiskeles village with my father and his wife. Me, my sister and my cousins were spending most of our summers there. Its was nice to walk the old paths and go to the lake where we used to swim on hot summer days.


My gradmother is close to 90 years old now, she's living alone in the house in the country side (not much services around!) and is capable to take care of herself, the house and the dog. She's really amazing and very sharp. She's also taking care of a lot of plants (look at the lemon tree behind!) and a huge beautiful flower bed in the yard.


My grandmother has some problems with blood pressure, so she has the device for instantly measuring it. I tried it on Kaj and it came out 230 on 90 or something. My grandmother said that last time she had this kind of blood pressure, she called the ambulance. It took us some time to realize that we were taking the blood pressure from the wrong side of Kaj's wrist.. ufff... thank goodness... :)


We didn't have time to meet any of my friends this time, we were so busy hanging out with the family... Sorry, guys, we've seen in June, I just couldn't make it this time!


I'm happy that we could see almost everyone from the family (my sister and Giedrius had the 11th anniversary of their marriage! congratulations!), before... yes... Going to New Zealand. I haven't been writing a lot about the decision making that was going on the background here, but this is completely official now - I'm flying off next weekend and Kaj is joining me in a week or so, when his work visa arrives... So stay tuned for more.. :)

Posted by gkligyte at 03:59 AM | Comments (7)

July 19, 2006

Mökki Meininki


I'm always few days behind with my writing, so it feels strange to be writing about the things we've been doing in the mökki, as we're in Helsinki for couple of days already. Right now we're very lucky to stay at Taina's and Mika's immaculate apartment for a few days where we can see our previous home through the window...


The heat wave has passed and we're having slightly more moderate weather now (cold!)


Tomi and Darja from Rovaniemi (yes, the famous Lordi (and Santaclaus) town of origin!!!) came for a visit (yeah! how nice!). We went to Sandskar again and the sea was realy raging, you can't see it in the pictures, but the waves were really big (for the Baltic sea at least). Kaj estimated that you could surf for maybe 2 meters before crashing into the cliff, but otherwise it would have been perfect weather for kite surfing or wind surfing.


We didn't do any of that, didn't even go swimming. When I just moved to Finland, it was completely incomprehensible for me, how are you supposed to swim from these rocks (especially if the sea is rough). There's sea weed growing on the rocks and they are all extremely slippery. For a Lithuanian I am, you're supposed to have a beautiful sandy beach to even start thinking of swimming. Later I learned that in Finland you just have to slide down the rock into the water and hope for a wave to wash you up the rock again.


Boating was also something new for me. These days I am quite useful, jumping out of the boat in time, holding the rope, pushing or pulling when its needed, when parking the boat in the harbor. Its not all natural. There's a lot to learn, I have to tell you.. Some simple things, like balance, or knowing how to tie knots or how to help another person to park it tightly in place!


With the big boat these days we can go to faraway places, like this uninhabited island (I've never been there before!) What is Kaj checking out there? Is he lifting up something?!?


Oh yes, Kaj has this new obsession of firewood after chopping all this wood in the mökki. He notices every single log lying around that doesn't have any obvious ownership. And you'd see him wondering how much of firewood would come out of this log or that and how many saunas you could heat up with it.. That one that he found on the island apparently was worth about 6 saunas... :) Just when shopping for outdoor clothing mania seems to be over... :)


This is the sauna in the mökki that needs wood to be heated. The cottage (and sauna) itself was built sometime in the 60s by Kaj's parents and there's still a lot of stuff (such as happy colour bowls and buckets) everywhere around. Looks retro to me (that is fashionable, isn't it?)!


Besides visiting uninhabited island, we went to the neighbouring Sjolund island for a visit and coffee. The island is full of children (aparently even tents are in use!). Kaj's childhood friends still come to their mökki with their 6 children. So the going there is quite lively, as you can imagine. We can hear some happy screaming from our island at times.. :)


The strawberry season is almost over, but I'm happy to have been there right at the right moment! We're still going to Lithuania (flying out on Friday) and then we'll be going back to the mökki again for some time. The summer goes on.


Posted by gkligyte at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2006

Tropical Finland


We spent 2 weeks in the mökki and it happened to rain only once! This is extremely unusual - most of Finland has been enjoying temperatures reaching +30C degrees (max +32,4C!!!). I was expecting a chilly and short summer (the kind that you blink and miss it), but it seems that this weather is here to stay. Excellent!


Ain't this smoked salmon a beauty?!? We're completely absorbed with life in the mökki, time just flies. There's so much to do, - doing the dishes, watering the herbs and strawberries, scraping the paint and painting this and that again, chopping wood, carrying water, cooking, doing dishes again, heating up sauna and going to sauna... Days just go one by one... And its mid-July already!


We went to visit Helena and Rainer, Kaj's sister's family and Kim, Kaj's brother, dropped by...


...on his bike. Kim fixed this bike and custom made some parts. Amazing. When I look at Kaj's family, I can't help, but be surprised, how all these extremely different people managed to come out from the same childhood home, same parents... :) Kaj proved his handy skills and made a new moskito net "systemi" for the window in the mökki... :)


Besides visiting Helena, we also received some visitors in the cottage. Erik from Copenhagen with his family dropped by. The top visitor, of course, was little Mikkel. Obviously Erik and Stine have a strong man growing in the family, you should have seen how 2 year old Mikkel was banging a piece of wood (that weighs maybe 5kg!!!)


This is smoke sauna built by Rainer. We didn't have it this time, but we had pleasure to enjoy it last time. There's no chimney in the sauna and all the smoke just goes inside (is it so?) And when its hot enough, you have to let all the smoke out and then go in, throw water on hot rocks and enjoy it. The coolest thing about smoke sauna is that you get "smoked" yourself - the skin and the hair smell nicely afterwards!!! We read somewhere that in the old days people were actually living in saunas (exactly this kind of chimney-less ones!)

Posted by gkligyte at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2006

All the roads lead to...


So this is it. This is the place that we've been dreaming about in all our journeys. All the while that we've been away, especially in the darkest hour (i.e. after the whole day of banging in the construction site on Saturday in Leijonakaupunki), we'd say "remember how it was..?", "If only we could go there, to the mökki". So this is it. The mökki (summer cottage).


The mokki has never let us down. It is always just as good, if not better, than what we imagine. The only sounds you here in there are seagulls crying, wind whispering in the trees and the distant sound of the roaring open sea, if the wind is strong. Not a person in sight... A (Finnish) paradise..? I think many people from some other places in the world would say "so spookyyy.. so emptyyyy... nobody around... where's all the peopleee..." :)


There's no electricity on the island, only a sun battery + you have to carry water (hmm.. Kaj carries :) from the well + all the drinking water has to come from the mainland and Kaj even chops us wood for the sauna! A fair bit of manual labour is involved in getting even simple things done (do the dishes, clean the kitchen and half a day is gone!).


In any case we managed to engage ourselves in other "projects", such as repainting some tables and the big boat, washing the windows, etc.. Next "project" in sight, I think will be washing the floor rugs in the sea. This is something I haven't done myself yet, but a lot of Finns swear by it - you have to use the traditional type of pine soap and a huge brush + water from the sea and then dry them in the sun. Obviously the rugs come very clean. You'd see people doing that in the boat harbour in Helsinki!


Of course, the best part of the mökki is just sitting in the sun and reading old comics books. But, I guess, we have to get there yet, we still haven't switched our mode to "rest" and want to "achieve" something every day.. :)


Since Kaj brothers haven't been going much to the mökki this summer, the lawn was left uncut and look what happened! Half of the lawn turned into a strawberry field! Its been 2 years since I've been here and look, I told you, some things are better than you remember them! Last week was very sunny and the strawberries ripened in my eyes!


Previous years we used to go to the Sandskär island (it faces the open sea, so the water is much clearer) a lot. We'd go for a swim, sunbathe on the rocks, or just run around hopping from one rock to another. There's also a beautiful forest with heaps of blueberries (not in season yet) and mushroom. Once we even saw an elk (quite surprising considering how far it had to swim to get to that island)! This time we only went once. Somehow we're quite busy in our own mökki and its still quite cold to swim (we've been dipping into the sea only after sauna... wimps!)


After all this travelling, I guess, no matter what, all roads lead to the mökki.

Posted by gkligyte at 04:41 AM | Comments (0)