Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Annual meeting of all parks

On Friday, 23rd August, the annual meeting of all employees who work in the protected areas in Lithuania was held. This time, unfortunately, it was in our park. I say unfortunately not because it was not good, but because this could be an opportunity for both of us to discover new parts of Lithuania. Anyway, we were looking forward it because some of the volunteers were coming with their colleagues so we could spend more time together.

So in the morning I met Olesya, Marion and Lilita, a girl from Latvia who is doing a practice in their park, and we went together to the campsite where the event would take place. We were the first and we had a lot of time so we decided to use it to put up our tent. We did a great job and as Oli noted "Our tent looks the best", even though there were no other tents yet.

After the girls registered more of the guests started coming so we started to prepare ourselves for the different excursions. Daniele lead another bike tour in the park and the rest of us went canoeing. It was very crowded in the small rivers as there was another group with 7-8 canoes, but we befriended them and helped each other when someone got stuck on an underwater tree. At the end they even invited us to their party on one of the islands but we couldn't stay because we would have our own party later in the evening.

After we finished the canoe trip we went to one spring and walked back to the campsite. We changed our wet clothes, some of us even went for swimming in the cold water but I just enjoyed a cup of hot tea. The table was laid and everyone got around it. There were so many delicious things brought by the employees of every park that after trying from almost everything I looked like pregnant.
Soon after that a small performance from a local folk group started to entertain the guests and everybody took part in the dances afterwards. The party continued with a big campfire, lots of beer and scotch, songs and dances until the small hours of the morning.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Honey Harvest Festival at the Beekeeping Museum

On 15th August there was a big celebration at the Beekeeping Museum - a Honey Harvest Festival.

It started in the morning with a visitation of the former president of Lithuania, who after being shown around the visitor centre, went to Ladakalnis to plant an oak. 

The celebrations continued at the Beekeeping Museum where a concert was performed for the local people and all guests. After the former president and the other official guests greeted everybody and inaugurated the festival, different local and Estonian folk groups danced and sang. At the end of the concert they invited the guests to join them in the dances and even the former president took part in!

There were a lot of stalls where you could buy honey and propolis, wax candles, glass figures, a lot of things to eat and to drink. Everybody could also take part in a workshop and learn how to harvest honey and of course had the chance to sample it after that. For the children there was a drawing workshop.

Once the official part was over the dances transfered into the forest, and our colleagues and we enjoyed a small feast in the company of Daniele's new love.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bike Trip in the Land of Lakes

After the refreshing week in Trakai, we had quite an intense tiresome week!
I took Monday off for some free time (the week in Trakai was fun, but still full of activities and included the weekend as well), but on that evening we went to bat monitoring in the park...
Finally our first nature monitoring! It was very nice to see the park at night, by a lake, and it was interesting to see those bats popping out in numbers at a certain time to feed on those so much hated mosquitoes! We stayed around till around 1 in the night.

Next day I had the last chance to go checking a route for my bike trip, which would take place on that weekend. It was the longest one, around 90 km, and good thing I went on checking it because I got lost again looking for some lost spring, which in the end I couldn't find! After more than 2 weeks without riding because of the weather, this long trip wasn't so easy, but it served as a training before the weekend.

On Wednesday it rained again so I could just rest in the office, and finish planning the trip. In the evening we welcomed the volunteers Giovanni and Lenka, coming to our park for the cleaning of Ginučiai Fort Hill.

So next day we went for this activity, meeting also Olesia, Marion and other 7 volunteers from Gražutes Regional Park. Our mentor, Linas, was our cheif and, after an exausting day cutting bushes, he treated us with a delicious vegetable stew.

We spent the night at a campsite in Ginučiai, so on Friday we were ready for working again, but we had to wait for the rain to stop. After another day of hard work we finally went home. It was very tiresome to work with such an hot weather alternating with some short rains, but it was also fun to learn how to use a brushcutter!

On Saturday, the Bike Trip we organized took place!

I met the cyclists at 8 by the train station in Ignalina - 13 of them - and we left for a loop to the southern park of the park.

We stopped at Lygumai View Tower, Nalšia Museum in Rėskutėnai and Kretuonys Ethnographic Village.

Being off schedule, we had to cut out some detours to Brukninė Watermill and Obelų Rago, but we could add a visit to a deer reserve near Šakarva the lady from the museum suggested us, which I didn't know about.

After 42 km, at 13 we were in Palūšė, where we had lunch and got ready for the second trip, a loop through the most popular places of the park meant for everyone, trained and unexperienced bikers.
The other volunteers joined us for this main tour, together with few other people and some  others who went with Blagovesta from the morning for a tour by feet in Palūšė and its Nature Trail.
It was a very mixed group, so for some it was easy, while for others (especially Olesia!) it was quite a task, especially some short parts on forest roads! But in the end everybody managed, and we enjoyed the ride and the stops at Gaveikėnai Watermill, Trainiškis Oak, Medžiukalnio Spring, Ginučiai Watermill, Šiliniškes View Tower, Ladakalnis Hill and Salos II Ethnographic Village on this 36 km route.

In the evening many participants stayed in Palūšė to enjoy the concerts for the Regata taking place in the same weekend, but I had to go straight home to get some rest before of the third long trip, on Sunday.
I went at the meeting point in Palūšė at 10 in the morning, and it turned out there were almost no survivors left! Some were too tired, and others too lazy to join this last tour, and only one man was there ready to start... He proposed to shorten the route, so instead of the 90 km planned, we had a more relaxing 52 km trip skipping Tauragnai Fort Hill, Mokas Stone and Minčia Watermill. But we could still enjoy stops at the Beekeeping Museum, Pakasas Watermill, Varniskės II, Vaišnoriskė, Strazdai and Šuminai Ethnographic Villages.

That ended this very busy week, and I think I totally deserved the next 2 days off to just rest and be lazy!

Ginučių piliakalnis

On 1st and 2nd of August our park organized a cleaning event at Ginučių piliakalnis. We invited the volunteers from the other parks to take part in it and help us cut the vegetation on the hill.
It was a hard physical work as the hill was steep and the weather could not choose a mood - either the sun was scorching or it was raining, changing between these two every 15 minutes.

After the first work day we went to the campsite where we pitched up our tents and swam in the lake. Once we were clean and smelling good again we helped our mentor Linas for the preparation of our dinner - a vegetable stew. It was very delicious even if it consisted of the so much hated by me celery! Then we played again some logic games and after that went to sleep because another day of hard work was lying ahead of us.

On the next day we were woken up by some heavy rain and spent the time until lunch in our tents playing cards and waiting for the weather to become better. And it did, so we set off to finish our work. But then it was changing again every 15 minutes.

At the end of the work day we were all so exhausted that we didn't even have any energy to talk. Also my left arm is covered all over by scratches and it looks like I have come back from a battle. And when I woke up on the next day I couldn't even get up of the bed as my whole body hurted. But today I am OK and ready for new challenges!

We would like to thank our friends for their help because without them we would never be able to do this job. Thank you Olesya, Marion and Giovanni and all seven volunteers in Gražutė Regional park!