Our final morning in Riga, we slept in before going to the bus station for our 2.5 hour bus to Siauliai, Lithuania. From there, we would be taking a 20 minute local bus to see the Hill of Crosses: a Catholic pilgrimage site that has been active since the late 1800s, and was repeatedly threatened during Soviet rule.
Upon arrival at the bus station in Siauliai, we dropped our bags off at left luggage (only €0.60 per bag) and went in search of food at the adjacent mall. We settled on a pizza place that told us it would take about 10 minutes which would be enough time to scarf down one or two slices before getting to our bus platform, saving the rest for later. I ordered a medium after the waiter pointed out the size, but Rupa - having not heard him describe the sizes at "small, medium, and huge" ordered a large even after the waiter tried to persuade her otherwise.
When I saw them pull out the pizza boxes, I started laughing at just how huge Rupa's was. She noticed too and looked horrified at what she had gotten herself into. But she was ready for the challenge. The pizza ended up taking a bit longer that we were told, and they took their sweet time pouring sauces for us (which we ended up not even using), making us have to sprint to the bus. Once we got on, I paid the fair and Rupa had to turn the pizza box almost vertical to make it squeeze down the aisle of the bus, while Carol just laughed and a local at the back of the bus moved over to make room for the pizza.
Twenty minutes later, we got off at the third stop and immediately began scarfing down our food. On the side of the road. Next to a farm. In Lithuania. Because life is weird and wonderful.
From the bus stop, the Hill of Crosses is about a 15 minute walk. Before long, you see the eery looking hill emerge in the distance.
There are an estimated 100,000 crosses placed here, though the exact number is unknown. As you approach the hill, you don't really realise how big the site is. It's not until you take the stairs up and reach the top of the hill that you see how vast the crosses are.
After spending about half an hour exploring the maze of crosses, we walked back to the bus stop to head back to the city. Miraculously, the bus came early, getting us back to the bus station in just enough time to grab our bags, power walk to the train station, and catch the quicker and earlier train to Vilnius with about 5 minutes to spare. There would have been another train, but it would have added about 2 hours between waiting and the longer journey, and we were cold and tired.
Once we arrived in Vilnius, it was decided that hookah was in order. Calvin had told me about a hookah bar he went to when he was here two years ago with a local he met and hit it off with. His nostalgia of the place persuaded me to look up every hookah bar in Vilnius to find the one that matched his description. Eventually, I found it and it was about a 20 minute walk from our hostel. So we set off to worsen Calvin's FOMO and have a great evening.