Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Amber Coast

The story goes that Jurate, the Queen of the Baltics built a whole castle made out of amber. The gods were so displeased by her display of wealth that they flooded her whole county with what is now the Baltic Sea. Even today, below the waves, her castle crumbles and amber washes ashore. We learned that real amber is about 50 Million Years old and floats in salt water. In addition, it will burn easily if it is held to flame. We read that amber washes ashore regularly and all you have to do is pick it up. Yes, Carol and I walked the shore and looked, taking our time but we did not find even a little piece.
Then we learned that the spit of land, the Curonian Spit in Lithuania, would be a good place to look. Off we go and entered Lithuania’s National Park only to run into heavy rain. No way can we walk the beaches. It poured and with the wind, the rain came sideways. The Curonian Spit borders Kaliningrad (Konigsberg), and there is no entrance into Russia without a proper Visa. Back we went to the main land of Lithuania in pouring rain. We did not get any amber the easy way. I felt like this is like fishing, it is way easier to buy the fish at the market than to catch it as an amateur.
With all my gear on, I was wet to the bones. Carol, in her new suit, fared better, she was perfectly dry. I think I am due a new riding suit. In addition, my front tire has almost no tread and I need a new tire badly but we need to get to Germany or at least Poland, for that. With all the rain I feared that I would hydroplane, especially since the tire tracks on the roads are deeply worn into the asphalt. There are literally two rivers running side by side on the road. I was forced to ride the middle strip but here I had the fear of finding slick spots. Unlikely in this heavy rain but with oil oozing trucks on the roads, one never knows.
This is not the 3rd world, but close to it in some spots. Things do not always work and there is a different reality here. We found wonderful hotels only to be told they could not provide proper security for our bikes. The hotel helped us find better locations for our bikes. Security for bikes is a must. The ‘new’ hotels they found for us were ok for the bikes but were a bit on the dumpy side. So we really looked around to find a proper hotel for us and the bikes. Showers have no doors, they are out of toilet paper, the steps on the stairs are uneven, tiles in the bathroom are loose, etc. We manage with those small things, yet in my German mind, I do not understand why these things happen.
The amber coast is there and yes, there is amber to be found, one just has to look and walk the beaches. We used the excuse of the rain to bail out and will buy some amber in a store. Amber is such a specialty in itself; too, I never knew the many colors amber has and that it is at least 40 million years old. Green amber is also found along the Baltic Sea although it is quite rare. We rode away from Lithuania in heavy rain, without amber, without seeing a store to buy amber. We did visit the shores where the amber is found but we were not lucky. We are off now towards Poland.

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