I am sharing a couple fun emails we got from our daughter Cynthia on a trip to Lithuania in 2001. The two e-mails posted are all I have left of that trip but I found it fun and decided to share it. I have no pictures to share unfortunately.
Mom did clean up some of the spelling.
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 15:51:14 -0400
In good faith I have kept a rather detailed account of my journey from the States to Lithuania. I fear that what I lack of verbal communication has loosed my pen and so, should anyone become bored with reading this, please feel free to put it down. I not only will understand, but I will never know.
Where to begin? Perhaps on the flight from Pittsburgh to Frankfort. I sat beside a gentleman from Germany, and he next to his friend, also from Germany. Of course the question arose and I replied, "Lithuania".
"What?" They exclaimed, " What is there? It is poor and barren. It is the worst place in the world to visit."
I explained about the job and they nodded in understanding. After all, equestrian sport ranks as highly in Germany as Football does in America.
They warned me of the perils of Polish roads and the misery of travel through East Germany. Once that was settled they promptly fell asleep, leaving me wide awake with trepidation and excitement. After three Vodkas though... just kidding mom......
In all honesty though, I simply could not sleep. I watched movies and TV sitcoms offered, and listened to music, til finally about an hour out of Frankfurt I decided to make myself presentable. Customs did not even look at me. So much for my painstaking care. I walked out of customs practically into the arms of a slender lady with close cut salt and pepper hair. She actually embraced me and so I didn't feel as left out in the crowd of people kissing and hugging around us. To make it even better, Sibylle dumped a six week old Jack Russell into my lap when we reached the car. It was part of a payment for some horses that she'd sold. My first impression of Germany was that it was not unlike Ohio. The six lane "Autobahn" was lined with forests of pine trees and the exits lead to gas stations and restaurants.
Because neither of us had slept much in the last twenty four hours, Sibylle and I stopped and just slept for an hour or so. It was beneath a windmill, which I later discovered, seemed to be a by product of German soil or something. They are metal, wide at the base and tapering up to a the top some fifteen or so feet high. Three blades resembling those of an airplane completes the effect. Nothing like the Windmills Quixote battled no doubt.
The further east that we pushed the more I became aware that I truly was in a different country. In spite of the familiar highway, the scenery began to take on a distinctly different taste. The smell of "naturally" fertilized fields, filtered through the window and the sloping green hillocks were dotted with clusters of village houses one could find in any picture book on Europe. The journey wore on, with views of quaint Villages and modern erections vying for attention along the way.
The driving was horrendous. Everyone travelling at an amazing speed and stopping quite abruptly for backed up traffic. They had little regard for lanes, passing where ever their car fit, unconcerned by the mere inches spared. In fact, often they did not even wait for you to completely change lanes before scraping by. And stopping on the side the road, or even not quite there, seemed to be a National Pastime.
As evening drew in and we close to the Polish border w began to look for a place to spend the night. The village of Nieder Seifsdorf presented herself, only twenty kilometers from the border. We approached a woman, walking her dog, about accommodation. A brief exchange ensued in German. Sibylle told me that the woman professed that there was no place in the village to spend the night, and she had no idea what lay in the villages beyond, having never ventured that far in her life. The nearby village was only fifteen km away. In her ten years of freedom the old lady had never explored that world that had been forbidden to her her whole life. The only change really was that now she could walk her dog after seven at night. Sibylle said that was quite common in East Germany. The people simply did not know what to do with their new found freedom.
A tourist board however boasted a small farm house which took nightly visitors. Let me clarify, tourists who often spent only one night. Windemere. I was struck atthe entrance by the, for lack of a better description, a corruption of a totem pole. A single log about ten foot high had been carved into the flowing face of some guardian, with eyes that curled into flames in the corners and a mouth that seemed ready to speak some damnation at any moment. The sign "Windmere" was set across the body at an angle as though the front was simply to heavy for the bolts to hold. Again the odd combination of modern and quaint facilities struck me.
While the buildings, a house and two barns winging it left and right, were constructed of brick and plastered with a mud like finish, the drive way was adorned with three very shiny, very expensive new cars. Our room was furnished and decorated and well cared for remains from the second world war. The room also had a television and stereo. The view overlooked a well shaded garden, where geese dotted the vegetable rows. Beyond, a church, built in the same fashion as the farmhouse, thrust boldly its spire, to be seen from almost anywhere in the village. Sibylle told me that the churches were not necessarily destroyed, rather they were kept as monuments and historical points, but certainly not as places of worship.
After a good sleep, I awoke to the smell of coffee and fresh bread baking I'm serious. We breakfasted on a delightful fare of cheese, cold meats, boiled eggs and the very best coffee and bread I have ever had in my short life. Though I did not speak the same language as our hostess, her concern for our pleasure was touchingly apparent, and I clumsily tried to express my gratitude and delight in her sweet home.
Well, this is part one my mom asked me to write. I have decided it is too long to write in one night, and rather than kill you in one sitting, I'll drag it out a little. Next time we shall explore the wonders of POLAND.
Incidentally some of you may have noticed the poor spelling and gross lack of punctuation. The spelling is a combination of my inability to spell, not to mention my rather careless typing skills, while the punctuation, which I truly do hate, is due to the German Keyboard on which I am typing. Everything is all wrong, sorry.