Sunday, December 17, 2017

Going Home

8/19
We didn’t have to rise too early, and the airport in Palanga is tiny and easy. We returned our rental vehicle [which was packed to the gills] and walked to Departures next door. It was also just as well that the amber museum and many of the shops were closed yesterday; our bags were already full. Since I combined my bags, we had an extra allowance for the painting Dan and Kim bought in Kaunas, but they did have to pay fees in Oslo to get it back to California.

We arrived in Oslo with at least a five hour layover. We wanted to check the bags and visit the city again, but check-in didn’t open until two hours before departure. I volunteered to relax at Starbuck’s while they went to Oslo for last looks. Since I had both carts of luggage within the Starbuck area, it was no problem to keep it company and to find various other patrons to watch it for me if I needed the nearby restroom. Coffee was 43 krona, and that was the exact amount of spare change Daniel had given me. That’s about $5 for a cup, but refills were FREE! I easily drank $5 worth while I enjoyed being on-line with my tablet and organizing photos. Time flew and before I knew it, the gang was back and we were on the plane back to Oakland.
View of glacial Greenland. Norwegian has the best windows on their ‘dreamliners.’

Flight was uneventful, and the three adults had the exit row on the right side of the plane. The landing, though, was something else. Apparently we were early, and our gate was unavailable. So we spun our wheels on the tarmac for at least 20 minutes before we pulled into the gate. Since we were row 7, we exited the plane fairly quickly only to find the door at the end of the gangway locked! Well, that took another 20-30 minutes. They had just opened a new baggage area, since Norwegian has become so popular they need a lot more space, but maybe the baggage handlers couldn’t find it, because it took almost an hour for our bags to show up! At that point, we just hugged goodbye and took off. I was happy to take BART back since an A’s game had just let out, and I hoped the Spatzes were able to beat the worst of the traffic. We had such a great time [even if that was the weirdest exit/baggage drama ever] that I’m going back to Scandinavia next June to explore Sweden for Summer solstice.

Thus endeth the saga of our Norwegian sojourn.
Good Yule everyone!

End note: Melissa tells me that the photo of me in one of the high seats will appear in the next issue of Witches’ Brew due out 1/10.

last night in Palanga

8/18
Had such a great time on the Couronian Spit that we didn’t reach Palanga till after 5 pm. At that point, many attractions were closed, but the Baltic Sea is always open.
Made it to our spectacular hotel room near the beach [www.bellavila.lt - we had the double apt. Room for family].

That’s our balcony above the entryway. Was hoping for a gorgeous sunset, but it was slightly overcast.
Path to the sea from our hotel.

Sunset on the beach.

Also known as ‘vakarene’ in Lithuanian.

Still the sky had some pink in it.

My friend, Gintare, the landlord’s daughter, is now engaged and studying hotel management in Amsterdam.
Daniel wanted to have a nice dinner on the beach, but Gintare and I just laughed. I said we’d be lucky to find decent pizza. I recommended The Muse, and our hosts chimed agreement. We had a lovely dinner in a charming restaurant above an art gallery in the center of town. We sat at a table in a bay window overlooking the main street. After dinner, we headed back for beach trips, drinks, packing, and baths. Although the tub was lovely and deep, it was so clean, it was very slippery, and I almost couldn’t get out of it!
But the view of the forest from the window was like a fairy tale.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Juodkrante

8/18
Off to Palanga. Long but very pleasant drive to the coast. Listened to a very interesting sci-fi story that was on Dylan’s device which Daniel played through the car radio. Stopped at first roadhouse on the way for breakfast. Very little English spoken, but we managed to have kugelis, ceppelinai, and pancakes.


Orange chicken for Max, and real ground bean coffees. Bought some homemade cherry jam and chocolate-coated apple cheese.

Took the ferry from Klaipeda to the Couronian spit and drove to Juodkrante to explore ‘Raganu Kalnas’ the Hill of the Witches with over 80 carved wooden sculptures from mythology, folk-lore, and local color. Not ALL of which are presented below, but will see how many I can send!
Card playing with the devil

Frog hugger

Have a seat - there were at least 3 different chairs

Just hoppy to be here

Kim pondering

New seat


Over a barrel

Raven trail markers

Raganas - witch one

Sweepers?
See sawing


Tongue lashing


Wood climbing


Juodkrante above - the Couronian spit below




Spent most of the day here, but are leaving tomorrow for USA - off to Palanga.


To be continued

Trakai

8/17
No photos for this one. I was too busy shopping, and I go here every visit.
Drove about an hour to Trakai; amber shopping for the ladies and the castle for the guys. Lunched at a Karaite [the Karaites are a Jewish sect who celebrate Easter] restaurant [first photo on you tube videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yw_KYfCGJiA

Fully armed with our purchases of amber and souvenirs, that was enough for a day. Left at 10, back by 3, and we all scattered to do what we wanted on our last day in Kaunas. Can’t find my ATM card, but will deal. [ATM card update: card was lost somewhere, and I cancelled it, no charges made, but my credit union charged me $20 for a new one - cheap for the peace of mind.]

The swains spent the evening in while the adults went for dinner at Grill London which was very tasty. They went for a walk after dinner. I went back to pack and started on the ‘logues. Left so much for Inija and me in the village, that my carry-on fit in my suitcase and it all weighs less than 45 pounds! [the kilos of amber fit in my huge purse.]

Saturday, November 18, 2017

8/16

A Day in Kaunas

Awoke early while Daniel was out for a run. Packed up to move downstairs, and then we all went to breakfast at the corner bakery. At first, Daniel was unsure, but I assured him they had lots of options. They did, and Daniel claimed his borscht was one of the best he’d even eaten. Fully fortified, we walked 2-3 blocks to the War Museum and the adjacent Ciurlionis Museum.


This backdrop was painted around 1909. People in the Baltics still celebrate the old ways with a raised fire altar close to a sacred tree[s]. My apologies for the photo quality, but they have it protected behind a clear panel that reflects the light and camera shots.

Kim took the boys to tour the Military Museum while Daniel and I toured the Ciurlionis [beloved mystical painter & composer] Museum.


Hallway glass

Found great souvenirs, and then we all met in the park outside, crossed the street, and visited the totally unique Devil’s Museum about which I’ve written many times.


Best of the examples I captured - that old devil moon.

Afterwards, the swains went back to the apt. while the adults shopped our way down the lane. First we stopped at an ATM [and somewhere along the way I lost my ATM card,
Sidewalk outside the bank

but at least I had obtained some euros first. Kim was enchanted with a nic-nac shop, but I really wanted them to see the Saule gallery.
Pysankai [decorated eggs] above and juostai [sashes/belts below]

They did and bought a painting. I added more amber ‘fingers’ and belts to my hoard. Then we all went back to our pads to relax before dinner.

My studio below their 2 BR [forgot to take pics upstairs. I just was there to sleep, and, in my defense, I left before coffee.]


Kaunas bedroom

My fabulous tub

We were game for the ‘Hunters’ restaurant and had my favorite; reservations! We were going to take a bus; instead we walked a fur piece from our alley to old town, but it was a lovely day, and it wasn’t that far.
I’ve written of the place before; it’s in the town hall square, and it is a game restaurant.
Everything painted on the panels could be on the menu


Daniel ordered a hunters’ plate of elk, boar, venison, and other delicacies. We enjoyed a lovely bottle of French white wine. The boys had steaks, and I thoroughly enjoyed a veal stew with plums. After dinner we strolled across the square towards the partially restored Kaunas castle.


Max had a blast swinging on a rope attached to the bridge over the moat.
The bridge is in the foreground. We could hear the jazz club and see other signs of nightlife on the other side.

It was almost 10 pm when the Sun disappeared and we went to the Iki [food store] at the bus terminus and caught one back to our digs. Took a long bath and had a restful night.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

a night in Kaunas

Finally back to finishing up our trip.
We left the village after Zolines around circle
8/15 Arrived at our Kaunas apartment on “Freedom Lane” after dark, but they met us and gave us the keys. Because they knew me, they said we didn’t have to pay till tomorrow [which is pretty cool for Lithuanians]. I put the Spatzes in a 2 bedroom apt. I’d stayed in last year when my studio wasn’t vacant yet. Their apartment was a mid-century modern dream, and this year, I slept on the living room couch the first night since, again, my studio was still occupied. They offered to move me to another place nearby, but I didn’t want to move out of the building.
[flowers outside our building]




Thursday, October 12, 2017

2018

The 2018 Celestial Calendars have arrived!

Great guide to all things astronomical and astrological for beginner or pro. All with beautiful, color astrological illustrations.

I have the Pocket Astrologer [4 ¼” x 5 ½”] in Eastern or Pacific time for $6.00 each. I have the Wall Calendar in Eastern or Pacific for $11.00 each. I have the Astrologer’s Datebook [4 ¼” x 6 ¾”] with both times zones in it for $9 each.

Shipping is $2.00 for 1st item and .50 for each additional item. Send money to: my paypal address which is valknot@juno.com.
I’m going to be in Ohio 10/24-11/4, so if I don’t receive your order before then, it won’t be shipped till November.