Two rest days in Klaipeda saw me exploring the city and its history and doing some office work, which is always difficult to do in the tent. In addition, Monica needed some attention.
I always found it difficult visiting a new town and reading a guidebook, and then ticking off the highlights experienced and recommended by other people with other preferences and with other expectations. I usually try to explore the city on my own, first reading up a bit on its history and then starting to walk the city connecting the interesting parts of the history with the impressions, intuitions and ambiances I experience while discovering the city. I did this in Klaipeda as well and the city surprised me enormously. When reading about the history of Klaipeda, or Memel as the city was named in German, one could expect a medieval old city with a Germanic touch to it. Not much of that remains. The same feeling I had with the typical dullness of Soviet architecture and city planning – functionality before beauty. Klaipeda had been for many decades a main port city in the Soviet Union with the town being developed to increase population and maritime production. But alas, Klaipeda has only a few remnants of this, and it is a vibrant town with its own joyful character expressed in the many statues and sculptures distributed throughout the city. The statues and sculptures were a joy to see and have my own interpretations about their meaning and their associations with my imagination. One of the most delightful sculptures was that of a tiny mouse. The sculpture is called “the magical mouse” and at its base the words “Transform your ideas into words – words will become miracles“ are engraved into it. Word has it, that if you whisper a wish into the specifically oversized ears of the mouse, this wish will be granted and become true. When I heard this story I had to laugh, because I thought that this could only have been a clever plot by the KGB. Place a strategically placed statue and seed the rumour that it fulfils wishes, build in a microphone into the oversized ears of the mouse, and voilà, the perfect tool for a mind control project. Jokes aside, it was a charming little statue. I could go on telling about all the other sites of the city, but here I will remind you of my principle stated before. I don’t really want advice from a guidebook and ergo, I do not provide too much information like a guidebook. I am sure any tourist guide for Klaipeda will do a much better job than I do.
Beside my office work, I had to do some maintenance for Monica. Perhaps its is time to explain why I have named my bike and the reasons for its gender attribution. I had been thinking that cycling solo may have particular effects on the psyche of an otherwise outgoing personality like me. Consequently, I reckoned that some form of a human interaction placebo would need to be created to keep my mind sharp by stimulating funny associations and general care. Thus, the idea of a name for my bicycle was born. The gender attribution was easy. It had to be female. After all, I was going to be spooning (in the purely cuddling way of spooning) with her for the next seven years so it had to be my preferred gender. Some may be clever and have observed that I am actually spooning with my Brooks saddle, but here I must say that I don’t consider Mr Brooks a personality. It’s an accessory of the bicycle. The name was much more difficult to determine. It couldn’t be any person in my environment or past. A very touchy subject indeed. I finally found the name of Monica. No associations of the past and present, romantic or otherwise, troubled this name. So Monica it was, a 19 kg bike made out of chrome steel, with a Pinion gearbox and hydraulic disk brakes was to become my “Wilson”.
Back to reality. Monica needed maintenance. I tightened all her screws and lubricated her and her chain to perfection. She was good to go for another 1000 km. Two days spent in Klaipeda went in the blink of an eye.