Reflections at Trakai Lake

The process of waking up is quite astonishing when you think about. One moment your are deeply drifting in a dream world your brain has created, and the next you find yourself disorientated, trying to make sense what is real and what’s not.

Memories keep flooding in of the night before, something about an Irish Pub, crazy French people, shots of vodka and then the hangover made itself felt. “I’m in Vilnius” it hit me. After a shower that felt like an eternity, I got dressed and stepped into the common room of the Jimmy Jumps Hostel. Here they were, Paul and Grant whom I met yesterday. “Good Morning” I said and went over to get my share of free waffles and sat down. Paul started talking and asked me if I wanted to join them to visit a castle not too far away from Vilnius. “Were a trio now” he exclaimed excitedly! It didn’t take long for more people to arrive and with each subsequent person the “trio” grew to a “quartet” and then a “quintet”.

Off we went first to the bus station where we had to catch a local bus that would take us there. This is where I found out about the name of the place we were going to visit. “One ticket to Trakai please” the woman seemed to understand me perfectly and handed me the ticket after I paid her around 2 Euros worth in Litas.

Once we found the right platform and boarded the bus we took off towards Trakai which again was an old German one based on my observation of the German signage. “This thing has WiFi” one of the guys noted. And indeed the old local bus had WiFi, “what a strange contrast” I thought.

The weather was pretty grey, so my expectations weren’t that high when we arrived at the town of Trakai. We stepped off at the rather shabby bus station and walked passed a couple of beautiful old rundown buildings and equally ugly apartment blocks. We were all chatting away when we spotted the lake ahead.

My first reaction on seeing the mirror like surface of the water and the colourful boats lining the shore was like a child walking into a candy store. I just couldn’t contain my excitement, as I was snapping away like madman. There were little green boats, blue boats, boats attached to buoys and boats aligned in neat rows, all sitting on this stunning mirror perfect lake. I was going crazy and I could already see that the others have made it much further than I did. “I don’t care” I thought, “we are all adults, so they will do what they want and I’ll just stick with the boats.” That is when I lost sight of them, and it was only three hours later when we found each other back at the castle. Which by the way is stunning on its own right, especially after the clouds had lifted with light illuminating the red bricks in bright orange tones, which in turn was reflected in the dark lake. This was true photography porn: amazing moody light, trees in autumn colours and an interesting subject with the most beautiful reflections I had ever seen.

If it weren’t for my stomach reminding me to get some food, I could have stayed there for hours. The others were hungry as well so we looked up a good place to eat in the Lonely Planet guide, Susanne brought with her, and went there for a strange mix of Lithuanian and Turkish food.

It was after dinner when we lost each other again as I decided to head back to the castle to take even more pictures, whilst the others went for a walk instead. We were meant to meet back at the station but I couldn’t find them, so I hopped on the next local bus and headed back to Vilnius. I still had some more energy so went for a walk around the old town, when I found an abandoned building. I was quite surprised that there wasn’t any security or barriers to keep me from walking in, so I did. I always liked the idea of urban exploration, where you would go into abandoned buildings, often breaking in and taking photos of what’s left, but I wouldn’t have thought that I would do it here in Vilnius.

In the end I returned to the hostel where the rest of the gang was already waiting and cheering when I stepped inside. From that moment on I got the reputation as the guy who always falls behind. I didn’t mind.