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Baltic States Trip - Day 15 - Random Ramblings

Since the north of Germany we've been under attack from biting and stinging insects of all shapes and sizes. Latvia has also brought our first tick encounter. Insect repellant and long sleeves are good.

Allotments were common in the north of Poland and they were incredible. The pride in ownership was amazing with brilliantly manicured lots featuring fantastically maintained / superbly painted sheds and outbuildings. The Polish should be the world allotmenting champions.

Forest foraging. In Poland it was common to see people foraging in forests and many roadside sellers had makeshift stalls where they touted berries, honey and fungi. In Lithuania, foraging was even more popular and no matter how deep we got into forests it was only a matter of time before we'd stumble upon someone with a basket and a push bike. In places, whole families would have baskets crammed with foraged spoils. We never saw any roadside sellers in Lithuania and assumed (maybe wrongly) the stuff they'd collected was for 'personal use'.

Lithuania and Latvia have similar diesel prices - from about €0.96 upwards. We haven't encountered any pay-at-pump options but all stations so far have been OK with chip and pin cards.
Supermarkets in Lithuania and Latvia have been easy to find and well stocked, even if brands and products have sometimes been initially unrecognisable.

Lithuanians, and particularly Latvians, do not use many facial expressions and if they do actually use non-verbal communication it's very, very subtle and largely lost on us. They are very dour and don't tend to smile, nod their heads, or make routine hand gestures. We, to them, very probably appear as brash as some artificially-effusive, over-the-top citizens of the good old US of A often do to us.

Latvians particularly keep themselves to themselves. The norm seems to be to act as if strangers don't exist unless interaction is actually necessary. Seasoned travellers tend to say a smile will sort most situations: not here it won't, it most definitely seems best to stay po-faced.

There were probably more derelict buildings in rural Latvia than inhabited ones. The rural areas do not seem to have moved on at all since independence. The Soviet past seems to hang heavy.

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