In March 2014, Sarah and I set off on yet another adventure, this time to London, Lithuania and Latvia. We flew direct from Vancouver to London and arrived just after 6:00 p.m. Having been to London many times, and living there for three years, Sarah was in charge of navigating the mega city. With baggage in tow, we raced through the airport to catch our shuttle bus, which we had pre-booked. When we arrived, the bus was still there, but was not allowing passengers to board. We had no choice but to wait for the next one.
After spending a few days in London, Sarah and I were back at the airport with smaller luggage. This time we were heading to Kaunas, Lithuania. Some may ask, and some did, “Why Lithuania?” In fact, when we arrived at the tiny airport in Kaunas, the customs officer saw our Canadian passports and asked “What are you doing here?” in confusion. As we are generally not “why” people, instead are “why not” people, we laughed off the remark and told the man we were there to see what the beautiful country of Lithuania had to offer. A couple of stamps later and we were on our way to find out.
It was late at night when we arrived so we would have to wait until the morning to get a full appreciate of the sights. We waited yet again for a bus to take us to the old district of the ancient city, and when it came we struggled to communicate with the driver on how much the fare was. We laid down some coins and he put it into a miniature-sized cash register that was with him behind a glass shield. We then had to wait for the thin strip of paper that was our receipt to print out.
With a basic map in hand and an unclear conversation with the bus driver, who spoke almost no English, we had a vague idea on what stop to get off at. When we were near, the driver shouted something at us, and we took that as our cue to exit. What we didn’t know at the time was that the bus dropped us off reasonably close to our hotel. However, it was late and we didn’t want to navigate some foreign land without clear directions. We walked a bit until we found a lone taxi parked curbside as if he was waiting for us. I opened the door and asked how much it would cost to take us to our hotel. In broken English, he quoted me a really high price (of course), but to us, a $12 cab ride was completely justifiable given the circumstances. We accepted his offer without trying to barter, and got in the backseat.
The driver drove around the block and down a really sketchy alley. Being in a foreign land, I was not sure what to expect. Surely we were about to be robbed or be cut open and have our kidneys scooped out of us. I remained calm and cautiously watched through the front windsheild, gripping the exact amount of Litas (Lithuanian currency) in my hand. As it turned out, my paranoia was unwarranted since at the end of the lonesome road was our hotel. We paid our fare and hopped out.
We checked into our hotel, but did not stay to rest at all. We set our bags down and headed back into the night. Now 11:00 p.m., we walked along the barren cobblestone streets to find an authentic Lithuanian restaurant where we could get a late-night dinner. It was cold out, but we came prepared. Bundled up and with cameras in hand, we stopped to take several photos along the way. We found a bustling night-life in the old district and eventually a decent restaurant that was still open. After taking a few more pictures, we went in to say ‘hello.’