Echoes of the past: What no one tells you about the Baltics


By Tushar Agarwal

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Vilnius, Lithuania – Where the Streets Come Alive

The best part about Adventures Overland’s Road to London is that it’s one expansive road trip consisting of many small ones. 

As we waved goodbye to Warsaw, the thrill of exploring the Baltic Nations had us grinning from ear to ear. Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, was our first stop, and boy, did it have some stories to tell!

We strolled down lively streets plastered with bold political statements denouncing the war in Ukraine, giving voice to the city’s unwavering spirit. But it wasn’t just politics that made Vilnius come alive. At the entrance of the National Drama Theatre, an ensemble of three whimsical nun sculptures welcomed us.

Amidst this lively backdrop, the MO Modern Art Museum, designed by the visionary architect Daniel Libeskind, stood as a testament to the city’s artistic prowess, firmly establishing Vilnius on Europe’s design map.

But that wasn’t all. Vilnius had its art game strong, thanks to the MO Modern Art Museum designed by the genius architect Daniel Libeskind. This place put Vilnius on Europe’s design map, and we couldn’t get enough of it.

Yet, the city had more surprises in store. Užupis, a self-declared republic nestled near the old town, was a treasure trove of bohemian spirit. Here, the streets were awash with color, and even the laws posted on walls were written in multiple languages, including the ancient Sanskrit. It was a welcome departure from the ordinary, a place where creativity and individuality thrived.

Trakai Island Castle – Lithuania’s timeless gem

Our journey then led us to Trakai Island Castle, nestled on Lake Galve. Imagine a picture-perfect castle on an island – this place had it all. The history here runs deep, and it’s considered a symbol of Lithuanian identity. It felt like stepping into a fairy tale.

Our international convoy, all the way from India, turned heads wherever we went. Darius, the President of the Motor Sports Association of Lithuania, paid us a visit to check out our cars and chat about our epic journey. With his thumbs up, we revved up and hit the road to Riga, Latvia.

Riga, Latvia – Where Cultures Mingle by the River

Riga, on the banks of the River Daugava near the Gulf of Riga, was a different flavor altogether. While Lithuania was mainly Catholic, Latvia was a bit more diverse when it came to spirituality, with Lutheranism and non-religious beliefs taking the lead.

The city’s maritime history was all around us, with rows of yachts and a bustling marina. But Riga wasn’t just about the sea – it had a rich trading history too. The Brotherhood of the Blackheads, a historic building from the 14th century, started as a congregation center and turned into a luxury hotel for wealthy, unmarried merchants. Today, it’s an intriguing museum that reveals Riga’s past.

Architectural Marvels Await

Riga’s architecture deserves a standing ovation. The Art Nouveau district was a feast for the eyes with its intricate facades. And don’t even get us started on the old town – the Dome cathedral reigned supreme, and taking a walking tour here was like stepping back in time. But here’s a twist – we were strolling, and suddenly, we heard strains of Indian tunes in the air. Following the music, We stumbled upon two saxophonists playing ‘Saare Jahan Se Acha’ and ‘Jana Gana Mana’. Talk about a cultural connection!

Scenic Drive Along the Gulf of Riga

Our road to Tallinn was a visual treat.Wind turbines dotted the landscape, and it felt like Estonia’s way of saying, ‘We’re all about renewable energy. Speaking of which, this very road once witnessed history – a human chain formed by 2 million people from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1989, linking Tallinn to Vilnius via Riga. This powerful moment paved the way for the Baltic Nations’ freedom.

Estonia – Where Innovation Reigns

Estonia, with its strong Western influence, stood out as a modern marvel. IT was the name of the game here, and Tallinn, the capital, boasted the highest number of start-ups per capita. Big names like Bolt, Skype, and Wise called this place home.

Unexpected Connections Through Cuisine

Here’s a heartwarming twist – we crossed paths with two Indian boys, Mohammed and Ali, from Pune and Mumbai. They took us to their Indian restaurant, and let’s just say, we felt right at home in that distant land.

Raddison Olympus – Olympic Memories

Our stay at Radisson Olympus, overlooking the spot where the 1980 Olympics sailing events took place was like a blast from the past. On the other side of the serene Bay of Finland, Helsinki beckoned as our next adventure.

This road trip through the Baltic Nations was more than just a journey; it was a tale of vibrant cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and the unexpected connections that make travel truly unforgettable.

Published On: 14th September 2022

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