By Bus To Vilnius

a Soviet-era reminder in Riga: Latvian Riflemen Monument

On our last night in Riga, our hotel gave us a breather from the heat: an electric fan was finally available for us. We slept soundly that night and woke up to another warm day, packing our bags and getting ready for another trip on a bus. We're on our way to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Since our bus wasn't leaving until noon and the terminal was just nearby, we went on an aimless walk around the old center of Riga after enjoying our free continental breakfast at the hotel.

We poked our heads inside the Occupation Museum of Latvia and finding out that there's no entrance fee, we got ourselves absorbed for an hour looking at displays that chronicle the country's tortured past under both the Nazis and the Soviets. There's even a faithful re-creation of gulag barracks where people on forced labor camps lived. Just looking at the numerous photos on display give one a sense of how brutal the KGB have been.

After passing through a pedestrian underpass, we got into the realm of weekday madness (at least by Riga's standards): on one side, people crossing the bridge across Daugava River either by foot or by bike and on the other, the bumper to bumper traffic of cars, buses and lorries. We could have easily walked all the way to the other side of the river but then the thought of forgetting that we have a bus to catch made us think otherwise. We walked back to the hotel, checked out and went straight into the bus terminal.

Our bus tickets were booked online through Eurolines for 17 euros each. Although travel time to Vilnius is just the same as the journey from Tallinn (about 5 hours), we booked the Lux Express service for some added perk that we really could use: free Wifi and unlimited hot beverage. I'm usually not fond of drinking hot beverages while in a bus as it makes me want to pee often but with a toilet available onboard, I reckon I'll drink as much all the way.

Buses in the Baltics do tend to depart on time and our bus was no exception. On the dot, like the ever-efficient Swiss trains, we pulled away from the bus terminal and crossed the Daugava river. From my window seat, the Riga Radio and TV Tower lords it over a distant view of downtown Riga. Built by the Soviets, this tower is Europe's 3rd tallest at 1,209 feet.

Shortly after escaping the last vestiges of Riga's suburban landscape, we found ourselves gazing at bucolic scenes, mostly of farms and fields in what is typically a flat land around this region . No sight of any mountain at all.

As soon as I felt I had enough of green fields and open spaces, I took my laptop out, hooked it into the power port and got connected to the world beyond the farm lands of the Baltics - the Internet! There were emails to check and even a blog update to do but then I wanted to know what's going on back in the Philippines. For some years now, I've been subscribing to the online edition of TFC, my preferred way of watching Pinoy television shows, whether I'm home or on the road.

With free unlimited hot beverages onboard, I was on my way to caffeine overload. What was surprising was the choices offered through this self-service Starbucks: caffe latte, caffe macchiato, cappucino, espresso, hot chocolate and hot water for tea lovers (with a variety of tea to choose from). For five hours, we took turns giving ourselves a shot at being a barista.

The journey was soon over and just like our hotel in Riga, we merely walked from the bus station in Vilnius, crossed a small park and into the lobby of Panorama Hotel where we checked in. As usual, there's no aircondition but this room is way better as we could actually open the window wide enough to let the breeze in.

And from our room we already have a panoramic teaser of what we are about to discover - the city of Vilnius and its Old Town. I see churches, lots of churches. Lithuania, after all, is one very Catholic country.


  1. i just really hope the philippines has a lot of those areas with bike lanes.

    i love cycling but im limited to doing it within the village. i find it unsafe driving along the main streets.

  2. the more I browse through your pages, the more I wish I am financially stable now so i can travel them myself. Sabe ko nga kay flipnomad, ang yaman naman ni Nomadic Pinoy ang dame na nyang napuntahan at ang mamahal pa ng mga lugar na yun! :D
    I agree with Dong, sana nga my bike lines din sa Pinas at uhmmm..sa Cambodia. I toured the Angkor temples using a $2 bike for 3 days and it's really dangerous esp at night.

  3. Great great photos. You may also watch local pinoy programs for free from this website: http://tfcnow.net/ :)

  4. Lithuania this time, yay! I take it that the temperature has kinda dropped, as there are less and less shirtless dudes on your pics!

  5. the tv tower is kinda special :) how much is the hotel there?

  6. Dong,
    I wish the same thing as it's very doable in rural areas. Manila's busy and congested streets looks unsafe for biking.

    I wish mayaman ako hahaha! kayod kalabaw din naman yata ako para makapag-travel.

    Thanks. salamat din sa link - I did try that before, may kabagalan lang kasi.

    Hmmm...yes, the temperature was more tolerable. I did see some guys going shirtless but not as much as in Tallinn and Riga.

    One can actually go up the observation deck for a fee but we didn't go. Our hotel room was really a bargain - only $46 per night including breakfast.

  7. Hooray for the electric fan on your last night there. :) The TV and radio tower can pass as one of their beautiful landmarks. Lithuania's next, I've just read Tina Panganiban Perez's (reporter from GMA News) tweet this morning, she wishes to go there.

  8. good thing there's tfc in that part of the globe. dito sa penang wala :(
    thank God for websites that feature pinoy channels.

    ....sometimes, as simple as an electric fan is considered a great pleasure! =)

  9. Wow... you are always travelling !
    Looks like a nice place !

  10. with that kind of bus that serves unli beverages + wifi, I wouldnt mind traveling for 24 hours. hihi

    di ko lang alam how much is 17euros.. xe.com muna ko. Ü

  11. Withandnuts,
    hooray indeed, the breeze from the electric fan was a welcome relief that night.

    Doc Gelo,
    the free websites though are so slow so I opted to subscribe to the online TFC kahit may bayad. You should have access there as well.

    Welcome back!

    XE ka rin pala - that's my default currency exchange rate calculator din kasi. The bus fare was about $21.


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