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Anyone been to Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia?

Travel Forums Europe Anyone been to Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia?

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1. Posted by happy_mel (Budding Member 25 posts) 9y

Hi,

I am back packing to Europe for three months starting next month. I have already planned the first two months which will be by inter-railing and finishing in Poland. I was then hopeing to go to the northern baltics. Has anyone been? I would like to know the following:

Is there a inter-rail or similar coach pass system? and how easy is it to travel around?

What the temperatures are likely to be around August, September time?

Is there places you reccommend visiting other than the capital cities?

Finally, what currency is best to take and in what form? Is there ATM's widely availble? Iv heard that prices in the baltics are slightly cheaper compared to most other european cities, is this true? I was hopeing my last bit of money may go further here!!!

Any help or advise with these destinations would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks

Mel

2. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 9y

I've never gone, but my sister and I are thinking of taking our grandmother to Lithuania next year (she was born there). Some cousins have gone and told us it's very affordable and beautiful. I'll subcribe to this thread to keep up with the info, and I'll pass along anything I find in my own searches.

Enjoy your trip!

3. Posted by Dominatrix (Budding Member 43 posts) 9y

Of these three I have only been to Latvia, and Riga is absolutely beautiful, full of Art Nouveau buildings built by its wealthy Russian and German merchants (at a time when Latvians were only peasants in the countryside) and many older edifices worth seeing.

However, Latvia is also a country with extreme right wing leaning in the government, severe apartheid against its huge Russian minority (30%, in Riga 52%) that has been made stateless on purpose with the adoption of fascist citizenship laws and is discriminated routinely.

Also Latvian attempts at gay and lesbian pride parade have also been quashed brutally with both Roman-Catholic and Latvian Protestant Church priests throwing buckets of feces (!!) onto the heads of passers by whom they imagined to be GLBT.

So...

4. Posted by bwiiian (Travel Guru 768 posts) 9y

I have been to Latvia (Daugavpils) and Lithuania (Kaunas) and they really are very cheap places to visit. When we arrived in Kaunas the first thing we did was to stock up on food, beer, cigarrettes etc. So we went in to a shop with the equivilant of £20 sterling (english) and between the 5 of us we couldnt spend it!! we bought loads of beer and fags and food but they kept giving us change!!
we stayed in the middle of Daugavpils in Latvia and we were put up in a very nice hotel and the drinks were very cheap even in the nice hotel - £1 for a large beer. I wouldn't say the parts of Latvia and Lithuania that I saw were the most exiting or beautiful places in the world, but they were very different. A bit like going back in time. On the main roads driving through Lithuania we would regularly pass people on a horse and cart.
As for ATM's, there were plenty of them in the cities, just like anywhere else in europe.

5. Posted by Cpt_Smooth (Budding Member 34 posts) 9y

Hi Mel,

There's not an inter-rail pass as far as I know, but the trains are very cheap compared to western europe, and you end up taking a lot of buses as the trains don't run as often as some other countries. The buses are not all the same company either, so there's probably not a pass worth getting for them, but again, they are very cheap compared to western europe.

In Estonia I would recommend visiting Tartu as well as Tallinn. It's pretty and has some nice bars and restaurants. In Lithuania go to Klaipeda and the Curonian Spit if you like the outdoors.

You won't have trouble changing any major currency in any of the Baltics, and all the cities have ATMs, so you don't need to worry about currencies too much.

They are beautiful and cheap countries, so enjoy your travels.

Tom

6. Posted by juu (Budding Member 7 posts) 9y

Quoting Dominatrix

Of these three I have only been to Latvia, and Riga is absolutely beautiful, full of Art Nouveau buildings built by its wealthy Russian and German merchants (at a time when Latvians were only peasants in the countryside) and many older edifices worth seeing.

That part is quite true.

However, Latvia is also a country with extreme right wing leaning in the government, severe apartheid against its huge Russian minority (30%, in Riga 52%) that has been made stateless on purpose with the adoption of fascist citizenship laws and is discriminated routinely.

That part is quite false and completely misleading.

There is no extreme right wing leaning. The conservative parties has the majority in the parliament, just like in many many countries. There is no apartheid against the Russian "minority" in any sane interpretation of the word. They haven't been "made stateless"; if they weren't born in the Latvian Republic or don't have ancestors who were they have to pass a Latvian language test in order to obtain citizenship. Of course, many decide they're not interested in learning the language of the country they immigrated to or that it is easier to whine about being "oppressed".

There are no fascist laws here. There is no routine discrimination. If either were true we wouldn't be accepted into the EU.

There are laws that try to preserve some part of the Latvian culture and Latvian language, which is quite understandable as the russification policies during the times of Russian occupation had a very adverse impact on both.

The GLBT thing is half-true; there was a nasty clash last year but then again the hooligans who assaulted the parade were also arrested by the police IIRC.

[ Edit: Edited on May 29, 2007, at 6:36 AM by juu ]

7. Posted by juu (Budding Member 7 posts) 9y

Is there a inter-rail or similar coach pass system?

Maybe, but I haven't heard of it. I'd guess no. Try Latvian Railroad's web page.

and how easy is it to travel around?

Riga public transportation is excellent. The buses and trains to other places don't run as often as in Switzerland, but you can manage with them.

What the temperatures are likely to be around August, September time?

August will be from 20C to 30C; September 12C to 16C mostly.

Is there places you reccommend visiting other than the capital cities?

I'd suggest Sigulda in Latvia. Maybe Jurmala. Maybe Rundale Castle.

8. Posted by Eleritz (Full Member 55 posts) 9y

Quoting happy_mel

Hi,

Is there places you reccommend visiting other than the capital cities?

all three baltic capitals are very beautiful and still underrated cities (i personally like tallinn and vilnius the best, but riga is also veeery nice).

apart from the capitals, i would strongly recommend a visit to tartu in estonia - a very nice little town and also kaunas in lithuania (some claim it is no worse than vilnius, i think it's an exaggerated opinion, but surely you won´t regret your visit to kaunas)

9. Posted by Dominatrix (Budding Member 43 posts) 9y

Quoting juu

Quoting Dominatrix

Of these three I have only been to Latvia, and Riga is absolutely beautiful, full of Art Nouveau buildings built by its wealthy Russian and German merchants (at a time when Latvians were only peasants in the countryside) and many older edifices worth seeing.

That part is quite true.

However, Latvia is also a country with extreme right wing leaning in the government, severe apartheid against its huge Russian minority (30%, in Riga 52%) that has been made stateless on purpose with the adoption of fascist citizenship laws and is discriminated routinely.

That part is quite false and completely misleading.

There is no extreme right wing leaning. The conservative parties has the majority in the parliament, just like in many many countries. There is no apartheid against the Russian "minority" in any sane interpretation of the word. They haven't been "made stateless"; if they weren't born in the Latvian Republic or don't have ancestors who were they have to pass a Latvian language test in order to obtain citizenship. Of course, many decide they're not interested in learning the language of the country they immigrated to or that it is easier to whine about being "oppressed".

There are no fascist laws here. There is no routine discrimination. If either were true we wouldn't be accepted into the EU.

There are laws that try to preserve some part of the Latvian culture and Latvian language, which is quite understandable as the russification policies during the times of Russian occupation had a very adverse impact on both.

The GLBT thing is half-true; there was a nasty clash last year but then again the hooligans who assaulted the parade were also arrested by the police IIRC.

That is not the way Russians, and other citizens of former Soviet Union heir countries, who were born in Latvia (as were their parents and often even grand-parents) see it.

Of course, you have the right to be blind to the fact that your country's government is fascist -- perhaps even support that -- but that doesn't make Latvia any less fascist.

And as for being "accepted" to the EU, this shows your mindset which believes it is something that is being given as a gift to poor Eastern European countries, rather than as a right of all EU countries according to the EU charter.

Eventually, being in the EU is by no means a guarantee of being "right".

Poland is in that same EU, and has been criticised heavily for the two children movie star brethren's appalling policies.

Greek Cypriots refused to allow Turkish Cypriots the right to join the EU, and some bigoted Christian fuindamentalist bureaucrat in Flemish Brussel (occupied by the Walloon French speakers in the 19th and by the NATO-related English speakers in the 20th) initialed that as "OK".

There is isntitutionalised racism in Great Britain too (which discriminates heavily against all Commonwealth citizens and to a different degree between them, having explicitly racist statements in their legislation that Strasbourg court routinely annuls, and all that because they made the silly decision to abandon their Atlantic allegiance for the Franco-German one).

Anyway... I don't want to meander too far, so to sum up: Latvia discriminates Russian speaking minority in Latvia (be they ethnic Russians or offspring of a -- say -- Kazakkhstani father and Armenian mother who speak in Russian) very gravely.

Riga is beautiful, but fascist -- and the fact that you do not see it is the same like white Americans saying there is no racism in the US, or 90% of all men saying that women can make it just as easily as men everywhere.

Never mind...

10. Posted by juu (Budding Member 7 posts) 9y

Of course, you have the right to be blind to the fact that your country's government is fascist -- perhaps even support that -- but that doesn't make Latvia any less fascist.

You seem to try to prove it by assertion only, which doesn't work. I doubt anybody who has experienced fascism though, be it Nazi Germany or Mussolini Italy would think the term even remotely applies here. In a sense everybody using the term "fascism" in this context is completely devaluing it, which is kind of ironic as it is mostly the Russians who value their victory over fascism in WW2 so much that do it.

And as for being "accepted" to the EU, this shows your mindset which believes it is something that is being given as a gift to poor Eastern European countries, rather than as a right of all EU countries according to the EU charter.

Actually, it's neither a gift nor a right. There are human rights and democracy standards to be met before joining the EU so having been accepted there is a very solid indication that our government is not fascist.

There are other organizations, such as Freedom House and US State Department whose country reviews give Latvia good ratings and do NOT repeat do NOT give completely absurd and unsubstantiated "fascism" labels. It's not even a label that the Russian state propoganda machine would officially use and they spin it pretty hard.

Poland is in that same EU, and has been criticised heavily for the two children movie star brethren's appalling policies.

Well, if bad policies were to preclude one from EU then most countries should be kicked out due to absurd agricultural subsidies.

I'm sure a fascist state would be kicked out fairly quickly though, trust me on that :).

Greek Cypriots refused to allow Turkish Cypriots the right to join the EU, and some bigoted Christian fuindamentalist bureaucrat in Flemish Brussel (occupied by the Walloon French speakers in the 19th and by the NATO-related English speakers in the 20th) initialed that as "OK".

I'm not sure why you think Turkish Cypriots had the right to join, though I'm not saying they didn't.

It just seems you paint a very simple black-and-white (and often completely incorrect) picture in all the cases.

There is isntitutionalised racism in Great Britain too (which discriminates heavily against all Commonwealth citizens and to a different degree between them, having explicitly racist statements in their legislation that Strasbourg court routinely annuls, and all that because they made the silly decision to abandon their Atlantic allegiance for the Franco-German one).

So if UK continued their allegiance with the US then it could continue to be racist? That is just absurd. Also calling UK racist is completely crazy. Can you give examples of this?

Anyway... I don't want to meander too far, so to sum up: Latvia discriminates Russian speaking minority in Latvia (be they ethnic Russians or offspring of a -- say -- Kazakkhstani father and Armenian mother who speak in Russian) very gravely.

To sum up, you're wrong, they don't.

For example, they can get citizenship by saying a few coherent words in Latvian and indicating they're interested. Many don't as they feel it's better to maintain the status quo and complain.

Riga is beautiful, but fascist -- and the fact that you do not see it is the same like white Americans saying there is no racism in the US, or 90% of all men saying that women can make it just as easily as men everywhere.

Does affirmative action ring a bell?