Saturday, February 06, 2010

Passport pirouette: Hopping through the Baltic States

When I was a kid in school, nobody mentioned Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania in geography classes - they were simply a part of the Soviet Union then, and it never really occurred to me that there were such distinct countries tied up in it. But when I backpacked through eastern Europe a few years ago, I took to reciting them - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania - listing them from north to south so I could remember the order I would be travelling through them in.

As you can see, even the passport control staff stamped my passport with the stamps in north to south order, and very neatly too. I had a great time visiting these countries, with the highlights being the whole of Estonia, Latvia's capital Riga and Lithuania's Curonian Spit.

As far as my passport goes, I just had a minor hitch before entering Lithuania. Back then, it would have still been reasonably rare for an Australian to enter Lithuania from Latvia, and the woman wasn't quite sure where I was from. She had to get a colleague to check whether I was from Austria or Australia, and whether I could enter the country freely. Luckily I could, did, and lived happily ever after.

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