FROM THE BALTIC TO THE BLACK SEA
Published: 10 May 2017
A Family Holiday In Lithuania & Latvia
Having travelled to the Baltic countryside with the family, for the last ten, or so, years, we are used to what to expect. High standard cute wooden cabin accommodation, delicious food at a quarter of the cost of places like France, Italy or Spain, lakes you can swim in, forests you can ramble in and last and the children will argue most certainly not least you can buy an ice cream for about 40p.
Family holiday in Lithuania & Latvia - a bit of culture & a lot of fun
This summer half term even my expectations were exceeded. We (ok Phil) had organised a family holiday in Lithuania firstly staying in our dear friends B&B in the countryside outside Kaunas (Lithuania’s second city) then up North to the countryside near a Cold war nuclear missile base (more about that later) and lastly a night in the Latvian countryside where the ‘barefoot’ walk is – 3km of delight for the children (and a certain amount of limping for the parents).
The weather was fabulous and on our first day we headed into Kaunas and to a medieval festival – with food stalls groaning under the weight of delicious sausages, bean and bacon fat stew (seriously addictive) and paella. After 15 years of visiting this country I still can’t get over how good the food is here. If you’re imagining stodgy soviet muck, think again. Salads, rice dishes, pasta and traditional fare, in countryside restaurants you’ll pay 3-4 Euros for a main course that wouldn’t taste out of place in some London restaurants. If you don’t need to loosen your belt after a week you have seriously missed out.
Cold War museums & water sports
The medieval festival was full of locals having fun in the sun, doing the usual jousting, sword fighting and pretending to be beheaded. The kids loved it.
The temperature soared higher for the Monday and we headed to Kaunas Beach – a man-made beach to take advantage of Kaunas’ lake – with the Baltic coast about 3 hours away – this is a fantastic idea. In the summer it gets really hot and a day on the beach is a welcome distraction from all that delicious food, history, art and culture.
The kids and I tried out wake-boarding which was great fun, both the boys (age 11 and 12) were slightly perturbed that their Mother proved better at it than them (still good to be able to surprise them now and again) and indeed enjoyed it so much had two goes….It cost, for 3 of us, 50 Euros that included tuition, wetsuit hire and the wake-board. It was 2 hours of fun and I would heartily recommend it. In the evening after a fantastic sauna on the beach and cooling down in the lake, had some of the best sushi I have ever eaten sitting on the beach. Bliss.
Now to the Soviet Nuclear missile base. I had been to this before years ago however they have really developed the educational side and now it features a fascinating museum about the history of the Cold War. This museum is housed down in the bunker giving all the tales an eerie reality that really brings the message home about how serious the situation. The children are at a great age to learn about this and at lunch we enjoyed regaling them with stories of spies and check points.
Our youngest admittedly didn’t like the models of the Russian soldiers much (‘they look creepy’!) and held my hand really tightly when looking down into the actual launch silo where one (there were four housed here) of the nuclear heads was based. However holding my hand whilst looking down a 100 foot drop was completely fine by me. Incidentally one of these nuclear heads was primed for London – that made all of us gulp a bit.
Barefoot walking in the Latvian nature
For the last night of our family holiday it was north to Latvia. Staying in an ex-Soviet hotel in the countryside, the present owners have done their best to soften the brutish architecture so beloved of that period and sort of succeeded (sort of) however do not let appearances fool you – as this is based in a wonderful location. The lake is so beautiful and surrounding forests great for walking. It’s also home to the popular 3km barefoot walk. Leaving your shoes at the base your feet get the sort of reflexology work out they can only dream of at a health retreat in some far flung land. You wade through clay, limp on rocks (or merrily run if you’re 8), walk through a river, stumble on pine cones (or happily skip again if you are 8). It’s a fun hour or so and although it’s possible I complained during some of it (I did) I did feel remarkably invigorated after wards. We came back to base and a tub of hot water, strewn with flowers, for our weary toes and sipped herbal tea feeling brave and like we had achieved something.
So we had a great week, the children were amused, kept busy and had fun. The parents were amused, allowed to read their books and had fun. Job done.
To discuss a family holiday for your family in the Baltics, call us on 0161 818 7140 and speak with Phil, or email [email protected]
Published: 10 May 2017