“I used to think that the day would never come” – New Order.
When I flew from Amsterdam Schiphol till Warszawa Chopin airport on the 22nd of February 2020, I had no idea that it would be 19 months before my next trip abroad.
That Amsterdam flight was part of a triple connection from Cape Town, South Africa to Windhoek, Namibia to Luanda, Angola. When I checked my passport for my last stamp, it was to be the last stamp out of South Africa that day.
My next passport stamp would fall on the Republic of Uzupis, a wacaday country that borders Lithuania.
First though, I would need an international bus ticket, an EU valid COVID vaccination certificate and a bus ticket from Poland to Lithuania. That was all sorted and suddenly, on 1st September 2021,I boarded an international bus from Warszawa Marymont to Kaunas (Kowno), Lithuania. I was on a Flixbus with a carryout trying to relive and revive “glory days loyal”.
As the sun sank over textbook gorgeoucative Polish countryside, I sipped a cold craft beer and sailed my dream back into Lithuania.
It was my first time back in Lithuania since January 2015,when I was a novice “97 country backpacker”. On that previous trip, I slept in the Monk’s Bunk hostel, Kaunas, the Litinterp Guesthouse, Vilnius and the Hotel Siauliau in Siauliau.
On that trip, I loved the sights and bars of underrated Kaunas. I was enthused during my Vilnius City tour, sampling of Ceppelini and the visit to the exact football stadium where Iain “Iain Dowie” Dowie Dowied, back in 1993.
I also toured Siauliai and the eerie Hill of Crosses (Kryziu Kalnas). The highlight of that trip however was my first ever visit to the Republic of Uzupis, where I crossed by bridge from Lithuania, toured a textbook top 12 sights and loved it.
Here in 2021,my main purpose of this trip was to watch Northern Ireland play Lithuania away. This was overtly sentimental as the last time we had done that, was the Iain Dowie moment itself, way back in 1993.
My first night was spent in Kaunas, with a train connection to Vilnius. From Vilnius, I decided to backpack to Uzupis again. This time, I got nude in the river and promoted my book. As well as that, I toured Trakai Castle, the sights of Kaunas (again) and the sights of Vilnius and Uzupis. It was nice to be back sightseeing abroad again, albeait a short trip to two already seen countries. In fact, I only smuggled one new city into my backpack – Trakai.