Day 1 Travel to Vilnius.
We all arrived at school and travelled by taxi to Luton with some slow traffic on the motorway but no particular problems. Once at Luton airport we ate our packed lunches and managed to check in and get through to the departures area OK -Only Amanda and Jacs had their bags checked! We boarded the plane without a long wait and the priority booking made sure we all sat together which is good. The flight was good with only minor turbulence. We found our cases and two taxis without a problem. We arrived at the hotel at 6PM (8PM here) and will soon be going out to find some tea!
Day 2 Vilnius and Castle
Last night we ate tea in the French restaurant in the hotel and food was lovely, even though Luke said we should call the fire brigade due to the heat of the pepper sauce on his steak! Everyone slept quite well after our long day of travelling! I think the staff slept less well due to all the excitement! Today we had breakfast in the hotel and then went on a bus trip around Vilnius. The guide was very interesting and told us about the history of the Lithuanian dynasty over the years. We visited some interesting buildings including the Grand Dukes palace and an Amber museum. The weather is cold and everywhere is white with snow. From Vilnius we travelled towards Trakai Island and after an interesting lunch we had a walk around Trakai Island castle, which stood in the middle of a frozen lake. It was very beautiful and we all enjoyed a snowball fight. We are now waiting for our evening meal in a nice restaurant in Kaunas. The students have all been very well behaved and are enjoying all the experiences. They are being good company and are eager to try new things! The staff are not bad either! Anyway I am sure we will all sleep well tonight after our very busy day!
Day 3 School visit Museum and shopping.
Today we were up early (Luke struggled to wake up) and were at our host school for about 8.45! Our hosts put on a lovely show of traditional singing, dance and a performance of a dance version of Snow White. They were all fantastic and made us feel extremely welcome. We all took part in workshops in ceramics, fabric painting and music. Good fun, educational and relaxing all in one. After a tasty lunch in the school we travelled to Kaunas and went to a zoological museum which was unusual and had a huge collection of stuffed animals! We have just left the shopping centre where the staff had some retail therapy and we all had a pizza meal which was enjoyed by all. Once again our pupils have been a pleasure and we are very proud of the way in which they have joined in and taken part in all the activities. They worked separately to the staff in the school and we had no problems so they have done very well. We are now travelling back to the hotel and I am sure they will sleep well again after another busy day. The hotel rooms are very nice and comfortable.
Day 4 crosses and chocolate.
Today we woke early again and met together at 8.20 to travel to another town called Siaullai which is about 1.5 hours on the coach. First of all we visited the Hill of Crosses which is really amazing. It began many years ago when the area was part of Poland and has over the years been part of the Soviet Union and is now again part of Lithuania. The area is full of crosses which people add to daily as part of a memorial to loved ones but also as a celebration of independence. Pope John Paul visited there and said a mass their too. It is was extremely cold and snowing but a beautiful experience to visit. Next we had lunch at a traditional style restaurant. We could not believe how much food we had – huge plates of salad, tasty soup, main course of either steak, chicken or fish with rice/ potato wedges and more salad. Then they brought out huge ‘apple pie’ (more like an apple sponge ) with ice cream!!! And it only cost about €11 each. Then we were off to the chocolate factory. We learnt all about where cocoa comes from and how chocolate is made. The highlight of the week must be making our own chocolates though!!! We were shown how to make a section of chocolates. Some more successfully than others!!! We were able to taste some of the chocolates and had a lot of fun! After a visit to the factory shop we have now returned to the bus and will travel back to Kedainiai. Tonight we have a farewell party and in the morning we will travel by trains to Vilnius and the airport. I think tomorrow will be a very long day as we are two hours ahead of uk here and so will be getting up at about 5 uk time and not arrive home until after 11 pm I think!! The plane to due to arrive at Luton at about 8.30 and then it is a good two hour drive!! I hope the snow there is not too bad!?!? It is interesting that there is a few inches of snow here and freezing temperatures but everyone goes about their business as they are so used to it. The Lithuanians and Finish can not believe that Britain grinds to a holt with a little snow!! But then they have snow for several months every year!! The students are all getting tired as are the staff -the days have all been very full but very enjoyable and we have all had a great time. You can see the student really gaining confidence and becoming more independent as the week goes on. They are getting used to sorting out their breakfasts in the hotel and are making friends with some of the other students and staff from other companies.
Travelled home safely using trains plane and taxi – I long day but a good end to a great week