The Curonian Spit is a 98 km long, thin, curved sand-dune spit that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast. Its southern portion lies within Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia and its northern within southwestern Lithuania and is a World Heritage Site shared by the two countries. I have written about my time here it blogs about the Russian side, Nida, and biking along it over the last few days.
Today I am writing about the northern half, which I reached when I hopped on a bus from Nida (they leave every hour all day long). I got off the bus at Juodkrante, about halfway up, in order to see the Hill of Witches. The town has set up some beautiful wood pole sculptures along a trail around a small, wooded hill in town. The trail is a little over half a mile long as you meander through the forest looking at the different sculptures capturing local folklore images. This is clearly a tactic to get tourist to stop and visit Juodkrante, but the sculpture are so well done and the walk is so pleasant I have to recommend you stop and check it out anyways.
After jumping back on the bus I arrived at Smiltyne (the end of the line). You can catch a ferry every half an hour across the entrance to the lagoon and get to Klaipeda for 50 cents, which is where I wanted to end up for the night, but not yet. First I wanted to go to the northern tip of the spit and check out the Lithuanian Sea Museum, but I was not sure how to do the last mile up there. Turns out that is super easy…..take a “train”. This “train” is a little motorized one that drives everyone the mile for 1 euro. Once there you have a choice to visit the Dolphinium (where dolphins perform shows) and/or the Sea Museum housed within an old fort. I of course chose the museum and around the circularish fort they had an impressive display of anchors from through out history along with many other exhibits on seafaring, but the big surprise was the aquarium inside the fort. I was able to see seals, sea lions, and penguins swimming around on the outside of the aquarium. Inside they had some wonderful display of fish, coral, and turtles, but the best part is walking through a tunnel in a giant tank that housed half a dozen sturgeon, which I never knew could grow so large. At first I thought they were a type of shark I did not know.