When you first arrive in a place having the opportunity to spend there some months, you feel like “I have to see every corner, I want to bring back with me all the postcards that my mind can archive’’. At least I felt like this.
With this commitment to serve out and thanks to a friend who offered me a lift by car, I jumped the chance to pass a weekend in Klaipeda, without need for repetition! Observing all the speed limits of the case and including some short stops, the journey from Vilnius to Klaipeda lasts more or less three hours and a half.
Klaipeda is the only seaport in Lithuania, it looks out for half of its entire surface in the Curonian’s lagoon and the other half on the Baltic Sea. The big commercial port is, in fact, the first thing that attracts tourists’ attention for its numerous and impressive cranes silhouetted against the sky and the myriad of containers that are routinely dumped in the docks to be sorted and then take off. However, at the mouth of the River Danes is still possible to observe the building that once housed the old ferry pier mooring that allow to connect the city with the beautiful Curonian peninsula.
The city due to its strategic position has been hotly contested over the centuries. In 1923 a Lithuanian general called Budrys succeeded in occupying Klaipeda favouring a premature retreat of French forces that were stationing in those areas to ensure compliance with the Versailles Peace Treaty which sanctioned its status of a free city. This situation lasted, not without problems, until 1939 when the armies of the Reich using violence fulfil the target to add the city to German’s Empire. Liberated by the Red Army in 1945 was definitively annexed to the territory of Lithuania. By the way, the wounds of this troubled history were profound and for the memory of future generation the local administration in 2003 disclosed the imposing granite monument, the only one of this type in all the country, which symbolizes the union of the city to its national territory.
Nevertheless coming back to our story, the current Klaipeda retains a charming old town that has brought my memory back to the typical ancient british Victorian’s style houses. These little fachwerk buildings in the centre have held most of the original wooden structure restored by using vivid colours that make this small old town a major tourist attraction. Nowadays these places home the seat of small art galleries or the craftsmen’s shops which works are often exposed around the city that is actually full of little sculptures.
From the square dominated by the Drama Theatre branch off a series of streets in which are located many typical restaurants and also bars, cafeterias and night clubs such as Faksas and Leika that we experimented in first-person.
As lots of university cities, Klaipeda is populated by young people who crowd the streets at every time. Klaipeda’s University is placed in a neogothic building originally build to contain soldiers’ dorms, it is the youngest in Lithuania and count now 9 different faculties but certainly the most famous and prestigious, as well, is the Marine Engineering and Maritime Institute’s ones.
Walking along the river you can see the Meridianas’s barkentine, an ancient soviet vessel that is now used to be one of the most interesting restaurants in the city and that represent one of Klaipeda’s symbols. Sitting down on the Jonas hill and the Cities Bastion Fortifications’ grass we planned an excursion.
To be continued…