Tallinn – 3 April 2018

What a difference a day makes! Today it was very cold in Tallinn but the sun was shining.

This is probably my last blog post of this trip. Our plane leaves Tallinn at 6:10 tomorrow morning for the first leg of our trip home.

We spent the day exploring the old town ofTallinn and the Estonian History Museum.

For our last meal of the trip we ate at a restaurant that serves all local Estonian food. We had duck and a typical Estonian desert.

I thoroughly enjoyed the walk back to the hotel in the cold night air.

Riga, Latvia to Tallinn, Estonia

When we arrived in Tallinn today it was snowing and there was a long line for taxis so we decided to walk the half mile to our hotel.

Before we left Riga this morning we walked through the beautiful mall across from our hotel. It is in the middle of old town but from the outside you wouldn’t even know it is there.

We are now directly north of Riga at about the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska. Our bus from Riga to Tallinn left at 11:30.

On our four hour bus ride I watch the movie Sully on my entertainment console. I really enjoyed it.

As we crossed the border into Estonia there were lots of people out ice fishing.

For dinner tonight we walked a few blocks from our hotel and had a great steak dinner followed by a flaming brownie with ice cream. .

Vilnius, Lithuania to Riga, Latvia

Today we took the bus north and a little bit west to Riga the Capital of Latvia.

Our bus was at noon so before we left Vilnius we went to the museum right next door to our hotel. It is the building where the document creating the independent Lithuanian state was signed on 16 February 1918. One of the interesting rooms in the museum had pictures from the Lithuanian Societies in the United States. There were Lithuanian societies in many states including three in Iowa. The Iowa societies were in Sioux City, Des Moines, and Mason City.

The bus ride took about five hours. Tomorrow we will explore Riga.

We had a great dinner at Svētku Mielasrs restorānā. We started with soup and potato pancakes with herring.

For our main course we had halibut and veal.

After dinner we went to a jazz club and listened to an excellent group.

Vilnius 30 March 2018

I really like our hotel here in Vilnius, the Narutis Hotel. It has a four story Central covered courtyard.

This morning we set out to explore Vilnius. We started at the Cathedral.

Then we climbed to the top of the Bell Tower. It’s history goes back to the thirteenth century. The stairs to the top were steep. We had an up close view of the bells and the old clock. We also had a great view of the town and surrounding countryside.

From the Bell Tower we walked to the Museum of Genocide Victims. The museum is in the building that was Gestapo headquarters and then KGB headquarters. I thought it was very well done. All the displays had captions in Lithuanian and English. The museum tells The story of the occupations first by the Germans and then by the Russians. The Lithuanians suffered oppression and horrendous numbers of deaths and deportations. Lithuanian has only been free of occupation since 1990.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped for coffee and strudel.

This evening we had dinner at a brewery. The wait staff all had “Support Your Local Brewery” in English on the back of their T-shirts. We finally had beer sausage and sauerkraut. One of the beers was a hemp beer made from cannabis seed. We would like to visit Vilnius again someday when it is not so wet and cold. Trakai Island Castle not far from here sounds like it would be beautiful and very interesting.

Suwalki, Poland, to Vilnius, Lithuania

Breakfast in Suwalki was the first breakfast in Europe that didn’t include croissants. It did include pickles and deviled eggs.

Our bus to Vilnius left Suwalki at 12:45 today. This morning we went to the local mall to spend the last of our Polish money. We bought snacks, Easter cards, stamps and a new wallet for Duke. We hung out until the last moment but still spent 45 minutes out in the snow, cold and wind waiting for our bus. It was invigorating.

What we have seen of Vilnius is beautiful. We had dinner at Lokys Restaurant. We ate in the basement of the fifteenth century restaurant. We started with herring and a lentils salad.

For the main course I had boar with pears and Duke had beef stew.

Our walk back to the hotel was cold and snowy but beautiful.

Warsaw to Suwalki

Tonight, our last night in Poland, we are in the extreme north east very near the Lithuania border. The scenery on the train ride today reminded me of northern Michigan and Wisconsin., lots of trees and frozen marshy land.

Suwalki is a town of 70,000 people. It seems like a prosperous town. We walked from the train station to our hotel and then went out exploring. We are at 54 degrees north. That’s well north of anything in the continental United States. The third picture below is our hotel.

For dinner we ate at Karczma Polska Restaurant. It was a warm and cozy setting.

We started with potato sausage.

Then Duke had pork tenderloin and I had chicken with an almond crust.

The apple cake we had for desert was wonderful.

Today was our last train ride of the trip. Tomorrow we take the bus to Vilnius, Lithuania.

Krakow to Warsaw

We returned from Krakow to Warsaw today by high speed train. We will have to come back to Poland again because there are many sights we would like to have visited and things we would like to have done that we didn’t have time for.

This afternoon we did go to the observation platform at the top of the Palace of Culture and Science. According to Rick Steves it is the tallest building between Frankfurt and Moscow.

We had dinner in our hotel. The Palonis Palace.

Krakow – 26 March 2018

Today we toured Auschwitz and Birkenau. It was difficult, and sad and powerful. To actually see what I have read about and to appreciate the size of the camps and the monstrous number of people who were murdered here…. I’m glad we visited even if just to bear witness.

We had another great dinner. We ate on the main square which had a lot fewer people than on Sunday when we were here.

Warsaw to Krakow

This morning we took the high speed train from Warsaw to Krakow. We arrived around noon. Then we went for a walk through Krakow old town. Today is Palm Sunday so there were a million people out walking. Many were carrying arrangements of grain and flowers.

For dinner we went to Nota Resto. We started with salad then curry squash soup.

For the main course I had pierogis with a duck meat and chestnut filling. Duke had beef. They were both fabulous.