Lithuanian

Kaunas, Lithuania

The Lithuanian language belongs – like Latvian to the balto-slavic branch of the Indo-European languages.  3.2 million people speak this language and it is also spoken in regions of Belorussia and Poland. A strong Lithuanian community also exists in Ireland. Lithuanian seems to be close to Latvian (in contrast to Estonian) but they are different languages that even the locals have to learn.

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Trolley busses

Vilnius, Lithuania

Like in all three Baltic states trolley busses (which have become pretty rare throughout the western Europe) belong to the city of Vilnius, Lithuania. In addition there is a large fleet of normal busses that you can use to travel around. Since 2001 the construction of a metro system with three lines connecting the busiest spots is discussed – but work hasn’t started yet.

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Memel

Memel, Kaunas

When arriving at Kaunas, Lithuania I had a look on my smartphone and the digital map suprised me: the river next to me which my local guide called Nemunas was labeled as river Memel. A name I had heard before. It is a 937 kilometers long stream that begins in Belorussia and runs via Lithuana into the Baltic sea. In a small section it forms the border between Lithuania and Belorussia – but before reaching the sea it also forms the border between Lithuania and the Kaliningrad Oblast belonging to Russia.

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Latvian

Railway station, Rīga

The Latvian language belongs to the balto-slavic branch of the Indo-European languages. It is therefore totally different to Estonian (which is a Finno-Ugric language), but rather close to Lithuanian (but locals say they can’t understand each other fully without learning the other language). It is spoken by around 1.7 million people.

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Art nouveau

Art nouveau, Rīga

If there is only one thing that you would remember about Rīga, Latvia – then it would be art nouveau. There is a complete quarter full of houses in this wonderful style (located in Elizabetes iela, Alberta iela and Strēlnieku iela) and that is the reason why the city is a UNESCO world heritage site. But you will find also other fantastic architectural styles throughout the city – within the city center you overlook buildings like the old exchange, the house with the cat on the roof, the opera or the academy of sciences.

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Getting around

Centrāltirgus, Rīga

If you’re just visiting the old town and the art nouveau quarter of Rīga, Latvia you’ll probably don’t need public transport. But there are also interesting places like the botanical garden, the zoological garden or the Brāļu kapi memorial cemetery that are a bit further away. Good news: using public transport at Rīga is fairly easy. A hive of busses, minibusses, trolley busses and tramways is waiting for you to jump in.

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Deutschbalten

St. Peter, Rīga

When you’re travelling through Estonia and Latvia you can see many remains of former German residents – like inscriptions on houses. As these regions were never part of Germany, how to explain this? In the 12th century CE the Livonian Brothers of the Sword conquered the pagan Baltic area. With them German settlers arrived known as Baltic Germans (or ‘Deutschbalten‘).

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From Tallinn to Rīga

Tallinn to Rīga

After visiting Tallinn, Estonia it was time to continue my trip to Rīga, Latvia and there are not too many options for that as the railway system is not as good as in other European countries. As often as in eastern Europe long-distance busses replace trains and there is a very good infrastructure for them. You can easily book this trip online with different platforms and operators. And you can choose different quality classes of transit.

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Estonian

Airport, Tallinn

I really like the Estonian language. It sounds nice, it reads cute and it feels like they have too much vowels in Estonia. Or how do you explain words like ‘bussijaam‘ (bus stop)? Looking at the languages of the Baltic states you can see that Latvian and Lithuanian have some commonalities (even though they are very clearly different languages), Estonian is absolutely different.

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