A chapter in my life closed (or is in the process of). The EVS chapter. It is necessary to do it. Life moves on and I need to do so too!
The same applies to this blog.
When I first created this space I didn’t know what to expect from it, whether I would update it regularly… or would just let it succumb into the Internet dungeons after feeding it a handful of times. What was first created as a requirement of EVS came to grew on me, immensely. I now can look back and take a small glimpse of my 10 months in Lithuania by checking all the posts, with all the words, thoughts, ideas, stupidity, excitement, fears, people, places that were part of my life as a volunteer.
I am very grateful to have had this space and to everyone who shared a bit of it.
Even though I will move on, the thrive to have a corner on the Internet remains the same, so the only thing that will change is the address. It will shift from 90154 Plungė to 2780 Oeiras. For now. ;)
@2780 will replace Take the Plunge as my main life deposit on the web.
Last November, when I arrived for my 10-month volunteering project, I posted on the blog my bucketlist for the time I’d spend in Lithuania. You can still take a peek at the original post here.
Now that my time has come to an end, it is the right moment to take a look back and assess how far I had been to fulfill those 10 bullet points!
Be able to speak Lithuanian language on a daily basis
How naive of me to include this 10 months ago! Lithuanian is a really hard language to grasp and I’m gonna be honest, within 2 months after I arriving in the country, I had already given up on the learning process. I decided to just go with the flow and to see where being in contact 24/7 with the language would lead me… Naturally, I became more knowledgeable on Lithuanian, mostly when it came to understand dialogues (I could easily get the overall idea of the conversation) and less about me speaking more than the strictly necessary to survive in the country.
Visit Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, and other remarkable cities
This wasn’t a really hard one! Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šiauliai, Panevėžys, Palanga… Other smaller towns and villages were contemplated as wel. However, from my perspective, without disregards for its urban settlements, Lithuania is really worthy for its nature! Whether we talk about lakes, forests and other natural areas, all of them are uniquely beautiful. You can’t go wrong, really! :)
Go for a swim at the Baltic Sea
Swam a couple of times in the Baltic Sea and it was a great experience! The water was quite warm (it would be a vague and quite subjective description, but it comes from a southern European guy!).
Explore at least one of the national parks
It ended up being not one, but two! Žemaitija National Park, right outside of Plungė and the Kuršių nerija National Park.
Take a scenic photography of the Trakai Castle
Hundreds of photos on my hard drive which I took when I went to Trakai with my sister Catarina and my friend Inês are proof that this topic was passed with flying colours. You can find some photos on my blog entries.
Count the number of crosses in Šiauliai Hill of Crosses
Of the three times I had been at the Hill of Crosses, the time spent there never allowed to cross out this bucketlist entry. But worry not! According to Wikipedia, there are more than 100.000 crosses.
Enjoy Lithuanian cuisine on a monthly basis
I would end up like Obélix if I would eat typical Lithuanian food so regularly. But I can say that this was fairly accomplished… I even got to cook Cepelinai once! Couldn’t get any more Lithuanian than this!
Visit some of Lithuania’s neighbours (aka border countries)
The only border country I did not go to was Belarus (well, VISA restrictions). You can find all my travels here.
Use some of Ryanair’s great deals
Ryanair, Norwegian, Ukraine International, AirBaltic, you name it! I enjoy immersing myself on the Internet searching for the best deals on flights…
Hangout, whenever possible, with other EVS volunteeers (Note: drink chupitos with mis hermanos)
Birthday parties, welcome parties, see you soon parties, goodbye parties, meetings, get-togethers, weekends… It wasn’t difficult not to meet with other volunteers! Nonetheless, as the time went by, I grew closer to some Lithuanians too! As I like to say, it’s not about the places but the PEOPLE! :)
Yes, that’s how you pronounce it. Not as if it was the strikingly similar English word plunge. Lithuanians will have a hard time understanding you, my dear visitor, if you wanna visit “Plunge”. Those who might strike an English dialogue with you will probably think you want to dive into the nearest lake/pond/whatever-place-filled-with-water. There are quite many around the country.
You may now proceed!
Plungė, a small(ish) town in the Samogitian ethnographic region, is the place which welcomed me last November and will see me go in September. Home to only 20,000 inhabitants, Plungė is often relegated for secondthird fourth plan when it comes to travelling in Lithuania. Yes, there are other places full of historic landmarks, nightlife, cultural events, etc. Plungė got it covered as well (in a different scale, obviously…)!
“Why are you living in Plungė??” is the question I hear the most though. I hope the next few lines will elucidate the most sceptics on the matter.
Let’s cut the chase and go straight to the point. What can I see and do in Plungė?
Dukes’ Oginskis manor
Located near the town centre, it currently helds the Samogitian Art Museum. It was built by Duke Mykolas Oginskis, being Karl Lorenz the German architect behind the project. Having the same fate as many other buildings in Lithuania, during Soviet Union it was completely flattened. It is now one of Plungė’s landmarks.
*Still haven’t been inside. Hopefully in the next few days.
Plungės rajono viešoji biblioteka
The main public library in the town is located in a 18th century former clock tower with adjacent greenhouse. The greenhouse is long gone (even though the entrance of the library still resembles it) but the clock still works nowadays! It only has one arm though, so you can only correctly check the hours, not the minutes…
Go inside and check it out! Say that you know me! :P
Oasis right in the centre of the town. One of the best venues in town to go for a walk, breathe some fresh air and just relax… Recently the park even became “smart” due to a web app (only in LT for now) you can access on your phone and discover some hidden gems which otherwise you wouldn’t.
Right on the other side of the busy road that borders Plungė’s park, we can find this not solittle gem. At night a show of lights nicely illuminates the cascade. You can sit in one of the benches or go for a walk through the paths nearby.
Šv. Jono Krikštytojo Church
Imposing red-brick Catholic temple built in 1933. It’s most distinctive features are the two towers, which define Plungė’s skyline. The interior is quite beautiful and imposing. The site was once home to a wooden church built in 1797.
Located next to the main lake (informally nicknamed Plungė Sea), the Virgin Mary came to Plungė in 1905 by the wishes of a French nun. Then Soviets came along, and their well-known love for all things religious led to the closure of the site and the statue being moved to Šv. Jono Krikštytojo Church. Right after Lithuania’s second independence, a brand-new Lourdes was built and put in its original location (the old one can still be found at the church).
First go to the nearest supermarket and buy some drinks (kvass, for ex., if you want to keep it light) and some snacks and head to Gandingos pier. You’ll spend a memorable afternoon/evening there, no doubts!
Žemaitija National Park
Hands down my favourite place in the area. Even though it is not really located in the town, I want to include it in this list. Because I can. You can either drive there yourself or hitchhike or ride a bike…
There are tons of things you can do here! Hiking, cycling, swimming, birdwatching, relaxing… It is truly a place to recharge your batteries. Their website is quite useful. Visit it here.
I’m starving! Do you recommend some places around town?
Really tasty traditional food. Don’t miss out on the cepelinai and the kepta duona su sūriu. Skanaus!
Its location is a bit out of hand, but the food is totally worth the detour!
Gandi bar and grill
For years months I have been complaining that Plungė doesn’t have a proper cool place to chill, hangout, have a nice meal. It’s finally here, Gandi!
Yes here there are quite many “Soviet bars” in Plungė (I have one right below my place), where men are already at 8 am with a beer in their hands. This kind of place is not the thing I have in my mind when I want to hangout.
Is it easy to get to Plungė?
Trains from Vilnius to Klaipėda pass by Plungė, so unarguably the best way to get here is by traukinis! Buses are also a good option. You can check for more information and buy train tickets here. For buses go here. And if you happen to have an ISIC card, you get a 50% discount!