Leaving the very nice B&B in Jurbokas I had a beauty of a day. Not one little speck of cloud intruded on the deep blue sky. The temperature at a balmy 17-18 C, I cycled always along the Russian border, southwards this time. This was going to be my last full day and night in Lithuania.
When you leave Jurbarkas and go to the south, the first sight which you come across is the Neman river. This river has served for centuries as the border between different entities on both sides. Currently, it is Lithuania and Russia. Continuing my route I passed the towns of Sakiai and Kudirkas before reaching one of the few border crossings with Russia, which is located in Kybartai. Usually border crossings are busy places, but here it looked almost completely deserted. I saw a few trucks turning into the border area but didn’t know if the border was actually open. A day before I had heard from another bicycle traveller, that he had been at the border point in Nida, on the Curonian Split, and that this border post had actually been closed.
Cycling on, the road and the landscape became truly gorgeous. The topography of the area changed, and hills started to replace the coastal flatlands. Pastures dotted with the with wildflowers and large fruit orchards in full bloom were not only sensational for the eyes, but their faint aromas spiced up the clean air all around me. Nothing like the bird cherries, though. I enjoyed my cycling tremendously and couldn’t look enough around me to take it all in. With the hilly topography came of course an almost completely new sensation – I had to climb them with my bicycle. Since my first day in Finland, I hardly had made steep ascents. Always cycling in the coastal plains, their gradual ascents were very comfortable. The first steeper ascent came before I entered the town of Vistytis. Huffing and puffing I arrived at the top and saw down on the road which runs along the Russian border fence, sometimes as close as 50 metres. It was great to freewheel once more a little longer downhill. In Vistytis I bought my groceries and looked for a place to camp. As you may know, many northern countries have the right to roam, which means that people have the right to go in forests and pick berries and mushrooms. The right to put up a tent is somewhat covered by this principle. Consequently, I didn’t try to hide my camping site and instead put up my tent at the shore of the lake in plain sight. The Russian border was just 400 m out in the lake, and I could see at least one border guard boat patrolling the border buoys.
I was sitting in my chair and was writing my journal when a big SUV from the Lithuanian border guards came on the muddy path to pay me a visit. The border guard came out, inspected my equipment and the flags on my panniers and asked where I came from. Finland was obviously a sufficiently enough answer. I asked him if I would be camping too close to the Russian border, because in Finland there is a border area with Russia where non-residents of that area are not allowed. The border guard was, however, extremely relaxed and ensured me everything is fine. I must say, border guards in the Baltic States are nice people. I spent the night on the lakeshore in a beautiful spot and enjoyed my evening with a beer and a spectacular sunset.