In the Baltics people usually don’t have to pay for WiFi at the hotels, mostly young people are the rulers, but insects are very old. Some insects are more than 50 million years old as they were caught inside sticky material when trees started to sweat during our previous global warming period. Having sunk to the bottom of the sea and lived there for millions of years, now the ancient insects beautifully packed in golden amber all of a sudden start to flood on the white, sandy Baltic beaches where anyone can pick them up, in particular after the autumn storms. Or any time of the year as precious jewellery in shops.
Yes, there is almost only one sandy beach in the Baltics. However, it is quite a long one. It stretches for more than 650 kilometres, in the south – in Lithuania - ending in Europe’s largest sandy desert, referred to as the Baltic Sahara.
A lot of mud, healing water and care for beauty have turned the Baltics into the key SPA area in Europe. Some of the thousands of manors and castles dotting the Baltic landscape have been turned into elegant SPA or other charming hotels with historical flavours.
While elsewhere in Europe enormous stadiums are usually built for football, in the Baltics stadiums are built for singing: for grand song celebrations where ten thousands of spectators come to watch ten thousands of choir singers. Where people elsewhere fight with weapons, Baltic people just stand up and sing. Peacefully. In such a way, the Baltic singing revolution paved the way for the countries’ re-independence in 1991. Everybody sings and dances. No wonder world’s leading ballet dancers Mihail Baryshnikov and Maya Plisetskaya have origins in the Baltics. As also do the composer Arvo Pärt and the conductor Mariss Jansons – the cream of today’s music world.
Sometimes the Baltic people proudly stress that they were the last to be Christianized in Europe. Strong Pagan Midsummer and Easter traditions are still alive, neatly interwoven with Christian traditions: don’t be shocked if you see a night race with naked men running. It is all a part of the Baltic Midsummer traditions. What has died elsewhere in Europe is still alive in the Baltics.
A strange tradition of throwing decorations on a recently cut tree makes the Baltics the centre of the global Christmas traditions. In Riga it is supposed to have started due to alcoholic misunderstandings in the year 1510, in Tallinn four years later.
In the rest of Europe people believe they have a hangover or have hallucinations when they see a blue cow. Not so in the Baltics; here many cows are blue and only a few people have hallucinations.
In New York there are supposedly only two houses built in the style of Art Nouveau – for moral reasons. In Riga you can find more Art Nouveau buildings than anywhere else in the world – and not for immoral reasons. In the Baltics we just have a more relaxed attitude to nakedness. This is also reflected on the sauna traditions that are as alive as in neighbouring Finland.
Some countries in Europe belong to Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Western Europe or Eastern Europe. Baltics don’t. They are both part of Western and Eastern as well as Northern and Central Europe. This crash of cultural and religious identities has given birth to multi-dimensional thinking and traditions like celebrating Christmas twice every year.
The Baltics are squeezed in between Scandinavia and Russia. And if you don’t have the time or maybe the money to go to Scandinavia or Russia, you are welcome to enjoy the Scandinavian way of life in the Baltics as well as Russian culture in safe surroundings offered by a large Russian-speaking population. However, right across the border from the Baltics you can find ancient Russian towns like Pskov and St. Petersburg that have kept the unique Russian and Orthodox beauty.
In the Baltics people are not lazily laying on their backs. On the contrary, just like birds they enjoy flying on their stomachs in what they call a vertical wind tunnel. Maybe this is the way to compensate for the shortage of high mountains. As also is riding a bob or luge downhill with a speed that the traffic police would not have allowed on the Baltic roads.
People in the Baltic countries are very long and thin. Nevertheless they like to eat a lot, since the food in the cafes and restaurants is surprisingly tasty and not very expensive. The never ending list of bars, discos and night club help the Baltic people throw off what they don’t want to stick to the body.
Most people in the Baltics believe that they are in the centre of the world. Lithuania has also proved that it is the geographical centre of Europe. What is fascinating is that very few people outside the Baltic know about this centre of the world.
All this makes any travel to the Baltics, this new and undiscovered EU and NATO territory, very fresh and full of surprises.