A day at Juodkranté

In Baltic states, Europe, Photography, Places, Travel on September 29, 2013 at 7:28 pm


When we decided to take a trip to the Baltic states, we decided on a road trip covering all the capitals, starting from Tallinn in Estonia to Riga in Latvia to Vilnius in Lithuania. We had no plans initially of taking a detour to visit a place we had not heard of till then….the Curonian Spit, a 98km long sand dune spit that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea, a UNESCO heritage site shared by Russia in the south and Lithuania in the north.

What caught our attention was definitely the location, a strip of land which effectively steals from almost half of the Lithuanian mainland the right to a beach 🙂 We arrived at Klaipédia in Lithuania in the morning from Riga.

Map showing position of Rybachy (Rossitten)

Curonian Spit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Curonian Lagoon

On the ferry, the Curonian Lagoon. The Lithuanian mainland on the left and the Curonian Spit on the right.

The Spit is an unusual strip with the village on the lagoon side where the waters are calm, you can take a quiet walk along the lagoon and sea gulls greet you ever so often, while the beach, the strong winds and the Baltic Sea with its rough waters are on the western side of the spit, the two separated by a forest which goes from north to south.

Juodkranté was a fishing village for centuries but today it is mostly a resort village. Till World War I, it was part of East Prussia. Thereafter it was separated from Germany and is today part of Lithuania.

The village is small enough to walk around and see everything. A lot of people take a bicycle to Nida and back or vice-versa….since we had so little time and C and I like taking things at a leisurely pace, we decided to give Nida a miss and concentrate on Juodkranté itself.


As a result, we spent a lot of time (mostly getting lost in the forest) at the Hill of Witches or the Raganu Kalnas , a forest enclave of wodden sculptures but I have already written about this magical place in an earlier post so I redirect you there, instead of re-writing the same thing.

hill of witches

The more peculiar thing we saw was the bird colony with mostly herons and cormorants. However, if you have a sensitive nose and are not fond of birds, stay away! We were greeted by the foul smell of bird shit almost a mile away from the main colony and going by what we saw on the road on our way, we were wondering if we shouldn’t have been more prudent and got our hats along……

bird colony

The colony has thousands and thousands of birds. I don’t think I have ever seen so many birds at the same time anywhere. However, the birds are not well liked by the locals for good reason. Their excrement burns the roots of the fragile trees in the forest and you can find a number of dead trees in the colony but the destruction is not restricted to the colony. The forest has suffered as a result of this colony but well, we are talking of protected species here so even if their excrement is destructive, it is doubtful the trees will win.

As an important fishing village and having the use of the lagoon for ferries, it is natural that weather was closely studied and played an important role in the fortunes of many. The weather vane museum is small but interesting and you are quickly explained the symbols and designs of the most popular vanes. It will take you all of 10 mins to go through it but it is well worth the visit.

weather vane

Oh, but how can I end this without talking about the food.  I should have mentioned it in my earlier post on the street food but on our way to the bird colonies and back, we saw several vans of….guess what….dry fish!!! Various kinds of dried fish. Locals seemed to be drowning them with a mug of beer and though we did not stop for a drink, we certainly tried the fish and it was not bad at all!! I even remember it coming to the rescue of our famished selves one day in Vilnius when we were stuck in the hotel because it was raining cats and dogs outside and the roads were flooded 😉

street food at juodkrante



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