Bye, Summertime Blues: My Reset at the Baltic Sea
And that's it - it's finally summer.
All it took was an epic all day rainstorm to wash away the rest of Lithuania's spring, and I've been appreciating every day since. When I moved here from Texas last July, the weather was exactly this beautiful, so it's nice to finally meet myself close to where I started. The one year loop in Lithuania is almost complete.
If you remember from my most recent blog post, I was legitimately excited to celebrate Joninės or Rasos (Dew), Lithuania's summer solstice, and it's true - I had the best time on Thursday night. Folk songs and sutartinės in every direction, DIY flower wreaths, dancing around the world tree, a huge bonfire, friends... It just emanated summer and joy. So different from the cold but beautiful Spring Equinox celebration I also attended in Kernavė. Oh, and I also finally visited the Ancient Beekeeping Museum, which was something of a pagan, bee, and Baltic culture sanctuary in the middle of nowhere. Literally, it's off a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, not at all busy with city living. I love Lithuania's reverence for these beautiful creatures, their place on the shamanistic world tree. Just like a bee, I've been very busy making sweet honey out of the mundane.
And just like that, my summertime blues are over, at least for the time being. Either way, I'm grateful, truly grateful, for the familiar heat and internal reset. This is exactly what I was praying for: satisfying warmth.
But last week, we grabbed some friends and took the drive over to the Curonian Spit, my first jaunt over there. Remember when The Scientist and I went to Klaipėda and Palanga in November, right before the first snow of the season? The Curonian Spit is just a bit further west of these places, and everyone and their mama has been telling me to check it out for its gorgeous nature. (Guess it caught on real quick that I'm a naturalist!)
And you know what? It was colder than I would have liked for the beach, but they were right: it was gorgeous. The sand dunes, my first proper smoked sea bream, the sea that made me insanely homesick. And my own imaginings about the yin and yang of the Lithuania sea coast were correct: this summer trip was truly the yang to November's yin.
Here are a few things I recommend while you're there, and a big thanks to some Lithuanian locals for some of these tips.
Run to the nearest smoked fish kiosk, stall, or shop. I'm not even the biggest fan of BBQ (sorry, Texas! You can go ahead and excommunicate me now.), but I do miss that smoky flavor. And guess what? We finally found the closest thing to that mesquite flavor: freshly smoked fish. Our Lithuanian friend recommended his favorite, and it was a surprisingly communal experience, something similar to my beloved crawfish and shrimp boils.
Don't spend all of your time on Nida, the clear party capital of the Curonian Spit. There are smaller little villages that are worth checking out - or in our case with Pervalka, staying in. I loved the general quiet of Pervalka, which reminded me a bit of our stay in Druskininkai, my current favorite spa town. We spent a lot of time going back and forth between our little flat and the local grocery store, making friends with the genuinely kind people bagging our groceries. And I also really enjoyed Judokrante and its Raganų kalnas (Hill of Witches), which just screamed "Eva!" with its wooden sculptures and forested scenery.
Find a spot on the beach and watch the sun set. Or, if you happen to be up near 3am during the summer, watch the sun rise! This will go down as a core Lithuanian memory for me, watching the sun set on a windy but beautiful evening. Growing up near the beach, my soul just feels right and aligned at the coast. You'll probably love it, too.
And one more thing: I've mentioned this in the past, but I'm so incredibly grateful to have such kind friends here in Lithuania. Whether we're floating down the river, celebrating Rasos, visiting the Ancient Beekeeping Museum, or just lounging around, this country is all about the friendships I've made and will continue to make. So, a huge cheers to them for helping me get to the summer months, and thank you to all of you for following along!
I'll be traveling to Scandinavia this upcoming weekend, so you can expect a post from me come Monday. See y'all soon! Viso gero - and treat people with kindness.