July 28th: Curonian Spit (South)
The Curonian Spit is 98 kilometres long (101 kilometres for the only road above), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a national park. Car entry is subject to double high fees, which costs 20 Euros to enter the North in the summer and 300 rubles to enter the South. In general, cycling is the most cost-effective method.
There are 9 settlements on the Curonian Spit. They includes in order:
Lesnoy (11 km)
Rybachy (33.7 km)
Morskoye (44.2 km)
Nida (52.8 km)
Preila (61.8 km)
Pervalka (67 km)
Juodkrantė (80.5 km)
Alksnynė (91.8 km)
Smiltynė (101 km)
Among them, Nida is the largest and has the size of a town. It is the administrative center of Neringa Municipality (Neringos savivaldybė), ranging from Nida to Alksnynė. Smiltynė belongs to Klaipėda city (Klaipėdos miestas). Lesnoy to Morskoye belongs to the Zelenogradsky district (Зеленоградского района) Curonian Spit rural settlement (Сельское поселение Куршская коса).
I took the 593 bus into the Curonian Spit National Park in the morning. The bus was used by a lot of people in the morning of a summer weekend. I took the 10:51 trip and there were two buses running at the same time. Both of them were full.
Then went to Müller’s Height (Высота Мюллера)
Then to Dancing Forest (Танцующий лес)
Then to Efa (Эфа) Height.
Morskoye is a small village. There are only one convenience store and one bicycle rental in the inside. There are a few cafés at the intersection. There are no other commercial activities, no souvenirs, amber, etc. The bicycle rental price is 100 rubles per hour, 500 rubles during the day, and 600 rubles a day and night, mainly for the local Nida day tour business.
As mentioned above, Morskoye is only about 10 to 12 km away from the largest town Nida on the Curonian Spit (apart from this, the nearest settlement of comparable scale is Zelenogradsk, 44 km outside). But this is a fucking traffic bottleneck, the buses from Zelenogradsk (I took these buses all day to visit all the above attractions) terminate at this small village, only one bus in the morning and evening continue to Nida. (the morning bus is 239 and the evening bus is 384). After arriving in Nida, there is again an hourly bus to Smiltynė.
The ticket of 384 bus can be pre-ordered on the Lithuanian website. I ordered a ticket from Morskoye to Nida, with the time shown on ticket as 18:40.
Because I thought the bus may arrive early (17:33 from Zelenogradsk, the section of the road is 44 kilometers, the scheduled time of other routes is only about 55 to 60 minutes, 18:40 is obviously unreasonable), so I went to the bus stop at 18:20 (that is, 20 minutes before the ticket, 47 minutes after Zelenogradsk opened), but the result is still not being able to take the bus!
I had been there until 19:00 and I couldn’t see the bus passing by, but I saw the other two routes scheduled after the 384 bus, also departed from Zelenogradsk, arrived the terminal Morskoye.
So I tried to ask the villagers in the café see if they saw a bus going to the direction of Nida before 18:20, but there was language barrier (I don’t know Russian, the locals don’t understand English), and WhatsApp’ed a local friend at the same time, as well as tried to call the hostel I booked in Nida. However, the bus company’s telephone number is a long-distance number, and the hostel’s telephone number is also a long-distance number. The local mobile phone network was extremely poor, I couldn’t receive the Viber callback from the hostel. After some time, the villagers drove me to the direction of Nida, but they could only reach the national park gate 3.5 kilometres beyond, which was only 7 kilometres to Nida, and the area after the gate was a border closed zone, which was forbidden to walk through.
The villagers put me down at the gate of the National Park and explained my situation to the staff. Then the staff helped me to catch passing-by cars and hoped that there would be a car that could sent me through the border closed area to the other side. But as the sunset was approaching, there were fewer and fewer cars passing by. Finally after about an hour, a kind Lithuanian lady, returning to Klaipėda, carried me to Nida. I originally planned to go to Death Valley to watch the sunset after taking the bus to the hostel, however, as I couldn’t get on the bus, I had already passed the sunset time. Fortunately, there is a local supermarket that closed at 23:00, which I had about 20 minutes after arriving the hostel, I rushed to buy a new phone card (the original Russian phone card had become roaming and cannot be used). When I reconnected to the network, my local friend also responded to me by WhatsApp. The bus company replied that the bus had passed Morskoye and was heading to Klaipėda and could not see me. This also meant that the bus might have been speeding all the way, and took less than 50 minutes from Zelenogradsk to Morskoye.