Friday, September 13, 2013

Nida.

Weather vanes, icons of the Curonian Spit.  Here, they're displayed on the lawn outside the Neringa History Museum located in the seaside town of Nida.

Nida. The last Lithuanian town on the Curonian Spit. A few miles further south and you'd be in Russia.  The homes wooden homes in Nida are just so darn cute.  Dark brown slats with bright blue accents was the typical style.



After leaving the Gray Dunes and driving through the small village of Parvalka, we once again happened a parked tour bus.  All the while chuckling about how we should continue to go where ever the *Cosmos Tour bus* goes, Bro pulled over and parked our small Hyundai next to the behemoth of a bus.  It was empty of passengers but we didn't see any sign of tourists.  What we did see was the small row of shops and restrooms that we had parked next to. While I did a bit of window shopping, Bro used the facilities.  Walking about, I spotted a path that seemed to be where we should be going.  Bro agreed so we went along and passed by a small group of houses around a cul-de-sac.  Homeowners were out tending to their front gardens - all very immaculately kept.


At the head of the cul-de-sac was a house that I immediately recognized.  It was the summer cottage built by Thomas Mann (1875 – 1955), a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate. Mann built the cottage in 1929 and spent many a summer here.   Today, Mann's summer cottage is a cultural center dedicated to him, with a small memorial exhibition.  We could have paid to go inside the museum but truly not in the mood to do the museum thing. 

I fell in love with this little charming cottage, with its terrace overlooking the water.


Plaque dedicated to Thomas Mann.


The terrace from Mann's house led down to a waterside promenade.  We decided to continue our walk by going down the steps to the promenade.


As is the tradition in Nida, houses are marked with weather vanes though these days its not to help seamen identify their homes; it's more about decoration.  Here are two.



This part of the Curonian Spit is also home to Europe's largest population of cormorants.  We spotted a small group of them, along with several seagulls, resting on a small land barrier quite a distance offshore.  We stopped to watch them.  It 's amazing how beautiful even the most common of birds are when you take the time to appreciate them.




From the promenade, we headed back up to the main street leading in to the town of Nida.  Everything so neat and tidy and full of charm.  Pace of life is much slower here; I can see why people come here to relax.

Main road leading into town.  No one's in  rush here.

There are plenty of bike paths around town.

Lots of well tended gardens here.  Like the Latvians, Lithuanians seem to love their flowers.

No longer needed to identify houses, the weather vanes are now purely decorative.


No two weather vanes are the same.  I did come across a few for sale in town and I was tempted to get one but it was so large I didn't know how I would carry it back.  Too bad because it would have made for a very unique souvenir.


Our walk took us back to our car.  From there, we drove into town.  Unfortunately, there was no charm there - you could be in any other small town in Lithuania.

We parked in the lot adjacent to the Information Center and went inside.  Armed with a few more suggestions on places to go to, we then went to a nearby supermarket where we treated ourselves to a couple of ice cream cones.


With cones in hand, we walked about town center.

A few souvenir shops in town.

Downtown Nida is right on the water and its dock area is a popular place for locals to enjoy the outdoors and water related activities.  As we were walking towards some benches, we bumped into.....of all people.....the young man who was guiding the three older women that we had bumped in to at the Hill of Witches.  Of course, we all chuckled.....it's a small world, especially on the Curonian Spit.  He was returning to their van and then going to pick them up.

The town's port.  Filled with restaurants, boats and small shops selling fresh fish and fish bait.

Park in town center.  From here, you can walk or bicycle all the way to Thomas Mann's summer cottage and beyond.

Ahoy matey!


We were really just sitting and relaxing. 


From the dock, these weather vanes and the wooden boat caught our attention.  That little blue building is the Neringa History Museum.  We didn't go inside. 

One of the two buildings that make up the Neringa History Museum.  We didn't go inside the museum.

Instead, we cut through the side yard of the Neringa History Museum....

The Neringa History Museum.

....and found ourselves on a very lovely neighborhood street which was lined with more of those ever so cute and charming Nida style homes.


If I had to live in a village home, this one would be it.

No....this one would be my seaside village home.  So much character in such a small package!

We strolled the 'hood for quite some time.  By now, we were relaxed as mush.  After our frenetic day in Vilnius and the full day of driving yesterday, our time on the Curonian Spit was just what we need to decompress.  But we weren't done yet.

Nida was as far south as we could go on the Curonian Spit.  From here, we headed back to Smiltyne to catch the ferry to Klaipėda.  Along the way, we would see cars parked nearby paths.  We figured those walkways led to the sea so we just picked a spot to park and took the path, heading in the direction of the sea.

We passed a small pub.  Big match on TV  To say that b'ball is very popular n Lithuania is an understatement!

We indeed made it to the water.  That's the Baltic Sea!

Checking out the Baltic Sea for one last time.

We also passed through several small villages.


I had to capture the experience on video.  Such quaint places full of wonderful, whimsical, and colorful character and charm.  No wonder the Curonian Spit is such a vacation spot!



The last stretch of the drive, just a few miles from Smiltyne, were through the woods. It's so pretty here.


I was expecting that we would enjoy our time exploring the Curonian Spit but I didn't realize it would far exceed my expectations. If I ever get to come back to this part of the world, I would definitely plan on spending the night in one of the small seaside villages here and explore more of this wonderful place.