Unscheduled day in Siauliai

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Mazeikiai to Siauliai to Klaipeda by train

Today’s plans fell apart! We left Mazeikiai early to take a train to Siauliai, thereby foregoing breakfast at the hotel. That part went OK (except for no breakfast). And seen from the train: a woman hand milking a cow in a field while nearby a man was scything the grass.

At Siauliai we intended to take the morning train to Klaipeda but, based on prior experience, we counted on the train not being booked out. It was! The next train at midday wasn’t booked out but the bicycle spaces were. Therefore we bought tickets for the 5.09pm train and came to terms with the necessity to spend the day in Siauliai.

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This is Lithuania’s 4th biggest city, probably best known for a nearby tourist attraction, the Hill of Crosses, a pilgrimage site since the 1830s. We could not bring ourselves to go there so concentrated on other local features of which there were plenty. Siauliai (pr. Shooly) has more museums than you’d expect including the Cat Museum, the Angel Museum, the Railway Museum (closed on weekends), the Photography Museum and the Bicycle Museum. We started with the latter which was good value for 2 Euros entry – and they also let us park our bikes inside. It displayed bikes from various eras and of a range of styles accompanied by photos and information highlighting the local factory where bikes continue to be manufactured.

Siauliai the city has more than its share of decrepitude but it is making progress with the renovation of the central pedestrianised area, where one half is newly paved. The other half is in a state of apparently long-term disrepair with much of the paving dug up and left in piles. It is well served with better cafes and bakeries than we have seen for awhile.

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The local park by a lake has an iron fox, a labyrinth and water sports. There are interesting sculptures, monuments, murals, a university and a cathedral. Preparations were taking place for an outdoor concert in the city centre. The overcast sky turned to drizzle and rain in the late afternoon.

Eventually it was time to catch the train – we had precisely one minute to locate the correct carriage, unload the bikes, lift them up three steep steps into the train and get our panniers inside. About 20 seconds of this time were taken up by a woman in front of us who struggled to climb in with her heavy bags. Luckily for us, a security guard came to our assistance and we made it!

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The train was slow and noisy and stopped at every station, making it a 3 hour trip to cover about 130km to Klaipeda on the Baltic Sea. On the way we counted over 20 stork nests and also saw cows, goats, vegetable gardens, abandoned industrial sites and many small villages. At one station, the train conductor alighted to collect windfall apples from a heavily laden tree near the platform.

Tomorrow morning we will explore Klaipeda.

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