Cold, gloomy country of small villages
“Before I came here, from what I'd discovered, I had an idea of Lithuania as a country of country huts. I didn't expect to find bigger cities, I thought people will be wearing more traditional clothes... to be honest, I hadn't expected much. But once I boarded a cab and the radio played my favorite bands, I realized that it was not that different from home,” Nina Buckhalter, a journalism student from Chicago, shares her first impressions. Lithuania is the first country she's visited in Europe.
Alessandro, an Italian from Palermo who is always late, says he has heard a lot about Lithuanians being cold, reserved, and timid. He hopes to break their ice, though. By contrast, Tirzo from Mexico brings entirely different expectations: “I work in tourism myself, so I've heard that Lithuanians, especially recently, have done a lot to promote their nature, traditions, the country of vigorous and fun people,” says the student from Monterrey.
Lou Guy from France says she has looked Lithuania up on the internet. “I found several low-resolution pictures, most of them showing crumbling fences and houses, read French blogs that did not promise anything good – people in Lithuania, according to blogs, are rather unfriendly and, once you leave Vilnius, it's better not to approach them,” Lou summarizes the image Lithuanians have on the net.
Leung Ka Hong from Hong Kong and Hungarian Nikolett Biro are most surprised by the heat of the Lithuanian summer. “I thought that summer temperatures here hardly rise above 10 degrees,” Leung Ka Hong shares. “What am I to do with all the warm clothes I've brought,” the Hungarian girl sighs after I tell her the coming weekend will be even hotter.
|M.Vadišio nuotr./Resting on the Hill of Three Crosses|
Engaging the world and Lithuanians themselves
These are just initial thoughts of the travelers who have just arrived to Lithuania. Throughout their stay, they'll be writing diaries and sharing their adventures here. In six weeks, they are to cross the entire country – they'll start in Trakai and Kernavė, then go to Kaunas, after that, to Druskininkai and across the entire Dzūkija National Park. As the trip progresses, they will visit Alytus, Marijampolė, then go straight to Anykščiai, dropping by in Šiauliai, then back to the Aukštaitija National Park and its picturesque lakes and forests. In the last stage, their van will take them towards the coast, the Curonian Spit, and they'll conclude the journey with a ride from Klaipėda back to Vilnius.
“Like in any other social project, we'll be targeting certain issues. More and more young people in Lithuania do not appreciate their country, let alone travel and explore it, opting instead for distant and exotic countries. Many foreigners have no idea about Lithuania or cannot distinguish it from other Baltic States. Finally, there are still many stereotypes among foreigners about the cold post-soviet country. These are the issues we will try to tackle and turn the stereotypes around,” says Kamilė Pajarskaitė who is one of the organizers behind Road Trip LT.
The six travelers will share their thoughts about the project during a Road Trip LT event this Friday night, 21 June, in Summer Terrace (Vasaros terasa, courtyard of Mokytojų Namai) in Vilnius.