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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

22 May 2017
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EXPLORING EUROPE

Join me on my journey to 26 European countries!

TOUR GUIDE: Aage Myhre, VilNews editor-in-chief
aage.myhre@VilNews.com


Early morning at Costa Blanca, Spain's White Mediterranean coast.

Text & photos: Aage Myhre, VilNews editor-in-chief

The more I travel around the world the more I realise that I am European. Although I have had good, close friends and have experienced extraordinary things in all corners of the world. Maybe my mind is not sufficiently exotic. That's ok. I have grown older now. Driving a car is the best way to experience Europe. Lithuania's border crossings to Latvia and Poland is no problem anymore. Within a day's drive you can reach most of the northern and central European countries. One more day and you can already stand and look out over the warm, slow waves of the Mediterranean Sea...

Over the next few weeks VilNews will present some glimpses of Europe ... A Europe that is now so close to everyone... The Iron Curtain is gone, forever...

1

Exploring Europe
For me, travelling means to explore, see more while there is still time. Not the destination alone, also the road there. I feel I become a happier person with such rich experiences. A free spirit in motion, new personal growth, and new experiences. To meet new, interesting people. Learn more. Understand more. That is for me the importance of travelling. The more I travel, the more I prepare. Contacts of people I want to meet well in advance. But I also like the impulsive, unexpected. For me, curiosity, a very important ingredient in any holiday. Being a tourist is certainly not something to take lightly. At least not if the experience of the trip is more important than just lying on a beach or just relax. Travelling is one of the best lifetime investments a person can make. I think.

2

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Switzerland & Italy
Coming to Italy via Switzerland is relieving, good, warm. It smells of pine, sea and beach. Food and food culture is an integral part of the experience. Having moved all here south means freedom. The basic idea behind it to get away, have a holiday. The moving down here also means that we have seen many new places, new things. On our long journey through Poland, Germany, Switzerland and Northern Italy. But why is this so important? Because I feel that the trip offers new situations, people and ideas that help me grow, understand more. Everyday concerns become distant. I go back north as a slightly different person after each trip. My perspectives become broader, more refined somehow.

3

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Along the Riviera
We start the tour in Italy, in the beautiful coastal town of Portovenere. We enjoy a wonderful filletto with a rich, deep red Barbera on a boardwalk restaurant. The next day the tour starts, along the Italian Riviera and the Cote d'Azur. We travel to France's best preserved medieval town, not far from the Spanish border, Carcassonne! Phenomenal dinner, good Languedoc wines. Next morning, we pass the Pyrenees. After a few hours’ drive of ever new mountain pass, Paradise opens before us. We have come to the Costa Blanca, Spain's White Coast. And down there, below us, the the Mediterranean Sea in all its azure-blue splendour.

4

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From Strasbourg to London
I had long planned a drive from Strasbourg to England. So here I sit again. Browsing. I find that the very symbol of London, wax queen Marie Tussaud (1761-1850) was born under the name Anna Maria Grosholtz here in Strasbourg. I follow in her footsteps to London where her wax museum had its modest beginnings in 1835.Fun to drive on the other side of the road; I think when we drive up from the ferry port of Dover. London has it all, but after a few days we drive to the north. We visit Cambridge. Experiencing one of the world's leading student cities. Watching a rowing competition. I like the English. But not their food.

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Austria & Germany
At the turn of the 20th century, Vienna, capital of the vast but ailing Austro-Hungarian Empire, reflected on its past with pride and its future with uncertainty. The empire had nurtured Beethoven, Brahms, and Strauss. The city was home to Sigmund Freud, and considered a world leader in science, philosophy, and research. With 2 million inhabitants, Vienna was one of the most populous and multi-ethnic cities on earth, a melting pot of immigrants from across the empire. But Vienna seethed with provincial nationalism, socialist ideals, and an odious wave of anti-Semitism. For Vienna also nurtured the young Adolf Hitler, and, after his rise to power, played a significant part in supporting the Nazi reign of terror. Vienna is rife with reminders of those dark years.

6

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Finland & Scandinavia
Scandinavia is fantastic in the summer as well as in the winter. Even though winter is a time when most of the peninsula is still covered in snow and ice, you will be surprised at how mild the temperatures actually are. In March, the sun is racing back and the days are already as long as the quickly shortening nights. This is an excellent time to observe the northern lights during the evenings and to enjoy fun and exciting activities during the day. Driving by car to the capitals of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark does not take long ...

7

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En route Warsaw - Budapest
A journey through the former Warsaw Pact countries. It hurts to come back to Eastern Europe after experiencing Scandinavia. Indeed, these countries have undergone great development since the Iron Curtain fell in 1990, but it is also terribly hard to think of all the hundreds of thousands who died, tortured and killed by Hitler’s and Stalin’s, obedient idiots. These once proud culture nations were on a par with countries in Western Europe before the war so brutally changed everything.

8

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Moscow and further east
It is January 1992. I am unexpectedly invited on a trip to the city of Orenburg on the border of Siberia. Along with two Britons whom I the last six months have helped to buy goods from Russia via Lithuania. Metals, timber and other things. As a Norwegian I cannot get a visa here in Vilnius. But according to the Lithuanians, I can safely travel to Siberia without papers. I decide to take the chance. Not long after we land in Moscow. Flights from Vilnius still belong to the domestic category, despite the months that have now passed since Lithuania was officially recognized as an independent nation, also by Russia. Therefore, no passport control.

9

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The Baltic Hanseatic route
When I came to Vilnius for the first time it surprised me that I here found a city first and foremost influenced by Italy and other Mediterranean cultures, very different from the other two Baltic capitals, Riga and Tallinn, both built in accordance with German Hanseatic style and culture. Lithuania's seaport, Klaipeda, was long German, and are therefore naturally very Hanseatic. I drive out to the Lithuanian coast, Klaipeda, and continue from there on the 'coastal highway' to Riga and Tallinn. A Hanseatic trip. The contrast between Vilnius, once the capital of a kingdom that stretched all the way down to the Black Sea, and these three Baltic cities, is enormous.

10

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Istanbul
I am in Hotel Conrad in Istanbul. The view from the terrace outside my hotel room is amazing.
I look down at the beautiful city I've learned to like so much. The boats on the Bosporus Strait are crossing frantically back and forth between the Asian and the European side. Large ships are heading towards the Black Sea. Others out towards the Mediterranean Sea. It must have been quite a sight to see the armada of Viking ships sailing here in the year 860.

1 of 10: Exploring Europe

I love old towns. No matter how good a new suburb is. I, and many with me, prefer the old towns. It has something to do with the atmosphere. Details, ornaments. Human life. Sound and smell. Warmth. Joy.

Europe is the 'old town' of the entire world!

I think it primarily is about culture and history. All that Europe is so infinitely rich on. It is something about that feeling. The idea and the knowledge of the Roman Empire every time I'm in Rome. Recognition every time I visit a museum or gallery and see the many art treasures I feel is a part of my European self.

It is more to Europe I never get tired of. For example, being able to walk, touch, feel, smell. Being a tourist here is like walking on the world stage as it has provided the basis for so much over thousands of years. Fortunately, European leaders long ago realized that the human being is more important than cars. Take

Strøget in Copenhagen, bike paths in Holland and promenades along pretty much all The Mediterranean sea-coast as good examples of this.

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Europe means walking around on cobbled streets. Between historic buildings.
To see. Listen. Experience. Feel. Smell. Like here in Florence.


Venice is my favourite European spot...


A stroll along the impressive lakeside promenade in Montreux at Lake Geneva.


Vienna, home of Freud and the Strauss family.


The Renaissance Sukiennice building is the central feature of the Main Market Square in Kraków Old Town.


Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.


Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė on a two-day state visit to Norway in 2011. The President was officially
welcomed at the Royal Palace, where she met with King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway,
Crown Prince Haakon and his wife Crown Princess Mette-Marit, and Princess Astrid.
Photo: www.president.lt

Category : Blog archive



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