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The Baltic countries

I do not see much infor on the Baltic countries.
Can I get away with Euros for currancey?

Is Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania interesting places to see?
I was going to go through them on my way back from St Petersburg to Holland. Is transportation reliable?

Posted by
2788 posts

For the best exchange rate use a DEBIT card at an ATM to get local currency and only use a credit card if you have to.

Posted by
8293 posts

I did a brief tour of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia a few years ago, and while I had an interesting time I feel no need to ever return. I think if one's heritage is in that part of the world it could be quite thrilling, but as it was, it seemed to me they still haven't left behind the Soviet mentality re service to the public. Our Lithuanian tour guide was shocked and appalled when we rose up as one and refused to accept the scheduled stop at a very boring town. She kept saying she would be "in trouble" with her bosses.

Incidentally, when approaching the border crossing between Lithuania and Lativa, the guide warned us all very strongly not too take any photos when we stopped there. Of course, a couple from NY paid no heed and took photos, stupidly even with the flash. They were escorted off the boss, interrogated for 30 minutes and had their camera confiscated.

Posted by
12040 posts

I found Vilnius to be a very pleasant city. Not packed with top attractions, but sort of like a smaller, less touristy version of Prague. The indiginous food is excellent, although the beer is some of worst I have ever encountered. The old town is small enough that you can walk everywhere, and sits very close to the main train station.

Posted by
683 posts

The tour guide saying she would "get in trouble" is hardly an indication of "Soviet" mentality. She was likely expected to get you to shop there , in a store that gives kickbacks to her bosses. You experienced her fear of her capitalist stooge overlords!!!!

Oh, well, life is sometimes VERY funny

Posted by
8293 posts

Well, you may be right, Paul n Sara, but I had an experience in Prague in 1995 which I will tell you about. We found an interesting restaurant in a crypt and while we were there a man came in and asked if they could accommodate a party of eight. The Maitre d' (or whatever the Czech equivalent would be) said they would be welcome, upon which the customer requested that two tables for four be pushed together so that all eight in the party could sit together. The maitre d' then said " Is not possible." The customer remarked that the restaurant was almost empty so why could it not be done? "Is not possible!". And so the customer and his seven companions took their business elsewhere. That is what I meant about a "Soviet mentality". And I found the remains of that in the Baltic capitals.

Posted by
683 posts

Norma, please understand that we are only joking-- an attempt to inject some levity into a place that so seldom has any-- and where most take themselves VERY seriously . We are sure that such a thing happened in Prague ( incientally, a LONG way from the Baltics) but our take is that the Maitre was looking for a tip to make the impossible, possible

Posted by
8293 posts

Prague is a long way from the Baltics. Thanks for that.

Posted by
290 posts

We were through there last September and spent two nights each in Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius. All three cities were very interesting, beautiful, not overwhelmed with tourists and very cheap by European standards. Tallinn was especially pretty with the old city wall and towers; a great place to walk and see the sights. We rode the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn, the bus from there to Riga, the same from Riga to Vilnius then flew to Warsaw. The Eurolines buses were modern, clean and very comfortable with restrooms, free coffee and WiFi. And, you can ride the same bus line from St. Petersburg to Tallinn.

Since all three countries are EU members there were no border crossing stops at all. Each still has its own currency, so use the ATM get local money. You can use Euros but the exchange rate sucks and you still get your change in local currency.

All three countries are well worth a visit IMO.

Posted by
12400 posts

Stew,

If I were in your place, I would go to Klaipeda along the Lithuanian coast. It was formerly Memel, the most northeastern part of East Prussia and the the urban center of the hinterland area called Memelland. It's worth a visit if you're interested in Prussian history.

Posted by
11798 posts

I just returned from the Baltics. I normally get cash from an ATM at each stop. I did the same this trip but was surprised how many places were happy with Euros in the area. It's still not my prefered method for paying - in a pinch, however, you will find more places that will take your Euros than won't.

Posted by
692 posts

Stew,
My wife and I taught English in Klaipeda, LT, for a month each in 2007 and 2009. Each country uses their own currency. Each country has interesting places to see. The old town in Tallinn and Vilnius are particular favorites. The KGB museum in Vilnius and the Jewish memorial in Kaunas, LT, give insight into WWII and Soviet era history. Study the meaning of the Hill of Crosses outside Siauliai. Look for amber along the coast. Eurolines runs good buses between the capitols, and other towns. We have also taken the train from Vilnius to Warsaw.
Happy travels.

Posted by
22 posts

Hello! It is unfortunate there is not much travel information on the Baltic States. I will shed much light on the subject. Vilnius, Lithuania The old town or Senamiestas was included on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1994. It is one of the largest in Eastern Europe. It is located between two rivers--Vilna and Neris. The city is very multicultural and has great architectural diversity. It can be described as southern architecture beneath the northern sky! The ruins of castles, network of meandering streets, church spires, bell towers, and red tile roofs make Vilnius a charming city just waiting to be discovered! Best Travel for the Baltics: Bradt Best Airline: Finnair/LOT Polish Airlines Currancy: Litas (1 USD =2.62 Litas) or (1 Litas = 38 US Cents.) Transportation: Lithuanian Railways http://www.litrail.lt/ Vilnius Transport: http://www.vilniustransport.lt/en/ Vilnius Airport: http://www.vilnius-airport.lt/en/ What to see: Vilnius Cathedral Genocide Museum Gates of Dawn St. Annes' Cathedral Bernard Cathedral St. Teresa Church Valdoviu Rumai (Lower Castle Open * 2013) Gediminas Castle Vilnius University
Peter and Paul Church Trakai Island Castle (Outside of Vilnius)

Posted by
22 posts

Vilnius, Lithuania Continued: Where to Stay: Narutis Hotel (**) Shakespeare Boutique Hotel () Novotel Hotel () Rudninku Vartai () Great Budget Hotel Algirdis (***) Great Budget Hotel Domus Maria Inastra B&B (Great Value) Where to Eat: Lokys Zemaiciai Beer restaurant "Aula" Prie Katedros TORES Restoranas Fiorentino Restoranas Cafes: Bistro 18 Ida Basar Balzac Markus Ir Ko
Pilies Mene More suggestions can be found on www.kofl144.weebly.com Click on the Travel tab and the links of Interest page.

Posted by
22 posts

Riga, Latvia Riga, is the largest of the Baltic Capitals. It is known for Art Nouveau architecture making it the "Paris of Eastern Europe" It is famous for its night life. Many tourists travel from England. They are usually Stag Dos or Bachelor Parties. It is the most expensive of the Baltic cities. Currency: Lat (1 Lat= 1.80 USD) What to See: House of Black Heads Peters Cathedral
Art Nouveu architecture Tallinn, Estonia Tallinn is a very cozy medieval walled city. It boarders the Baltic Sea. It is know for its Scandinavian feel and has been a popular tourist destination for the Finns. Currency: Euro (As of 2011) What to See: Nevsky Cathedral (Very popular landmark)