Monday, July 16, 2012

What Does Zip-Lining and Body Surfing Have in Common?!

Palanga, Lithuania! This past weekend we took a trip to Palanga which is a Seaside resort town in Lithuania. It was nice to get away from Vilnius and relax. We left early Friday morning on a four hour bus ride. We stopped just outside of Palanga at a "small" brewery. "Small" is in quotations because even though they do not brew for distribution, this place was anything but small. On site was their main brew house and two-story restaurant where we were able to taste their brews and tour the facility with the owner and brew master (ISM graduate). For the first time in my life, I liked the dark brew better. Their samples came in large 3 liter cylinders with a pour spout so everyone could serve themselves. We sampled the beer first and then we went outside and toured their facility. It was interesting to compare US brews to this Lithuanian site. Another cool thing is that this facility brews a beer that has such small amount of alcohol in it that it is perfectly safe for pregnant women and children to drink. They actually consider it alcohol free. It looks about like a light beer but it tastes different for sure. It's much sweeter. The really exciting part came after the tour though. The site has expanded to much more than a brewery. It's its own amusement park. No joke! It is loaded with challenge rope courses, kids games, petting zoo, gift shops, and two more restaurants. I think that the tour guide liked us (mostly because we asked a lot of questions and were totally excited about his business) so he gave us a HUGE discount on the challenge course. They have like five different intensity levels and usually they cost around 55Lt. He allowed us to go on any of them for 10Lt. Yup pretty much awesome! So we went on the most difficult one they would allow us to go on and I am grateful they restricted us because it was challenging. There were five zip-lines on our course, ropes to climb from tree to tree, netting to climb side-ways on, rope to swing into a netting, and they were all connected to trees which meant every time the wind blew the tree wobbled back and forth. Oh and it was scary because you had to harness yourself while standing on a platform 30 feet above the ground in a forest. It was so cool but there was a few times I thought I was going to fall!! It was an amazing experience and such a great opportunity. So now I can cross zip-lining off of my bucket list. Thank you Lithuania!
The next item of business was straight to the beach! When we reached the town of Palanga we unloaded the bus and went off in separate locations to our various houses. The hotel was set up much different then I have ever seen. It was one hotel but there were several apartments, houses, and residential areas in a two block area. I was in a house of four girls, two bedrooms, two and a half baths, living room, and kitchen. Life of the luxurious! At least in comparison of our current hostel in Vilnius. My house pretty much threw our things down and headed for the coast line. We were only a couple buildings away from the main street that leads down to the Sea. The street was lined with vendors and ice cream carts, and all kinds of activities. It was very cool to walk down and it led straight onto a boardwalk. By this time it was getting darker (of course the sun doesn't go down until 11 but it was a cloudy day). I snapped a couple pictures on the boardwalk and then we started back towards the house, hoping we would find everyone else. We ran into the American boys while we were watching a street dancer and they invited us to their place that night for dinner and drinks. We headed home, dolled up, and met the whole crowd just two streets over at the boys' mansion. The place was huge, 10 bedrooms, 5 baths, and a HUGE room full of tables. Best guess is it used to be a frat house or a governmental site. Martino cooked spaghetti for everyone and we danced, chatted, played various games and hung out with everyone including two professors and Ruta, our awesome coordinator. Once people started wandering off, a few of us went with the professors and followed them to a few hot spots in town to continue the fun. The night ended well and the next morning we slept until 9 and then strolled down to the beach where we spent almost the rest of the day. The sun only peaked out for a short while but we lounged on our blankets, swam in the sea (this is where body surfing comes into play), and took a couple naps. That night we attempted to hang with the boys again, but being there was drama and we some how all caught the Flu. We called the night early and crashed. By noon on Sunday we were on the bus again headed back to Vilnius with a pit stop in Kaunas (the old capitol and the second largest city. The only worthy story from this trip was my tragic need to pee and the horrible incident of the bus bathroom being locked then my embarrassment of having to ask Ruta to have the bus driver pull over at the next stop because I could not stand it any more. Luckily everyone else was in need of a pit stop as well so I was not singled out! Whew! Anyway, Sunday was rough because I felt like death and called it a night early (11pm). Even though I attempted to sleep, there was no way my poor sick body would allow me to. It certainly does not help being in a foreign country, sick, with no way of getting any NyQuil or anything of the equivalence. :( Tragedy has stricken! I spent today in class wanting nothing more than to sleep and the new Serbian professor was constantly on my case for yawning! I still pretty much feel like death and I certainly do not feel like studying for two tests on Thursday and preparing two presentations for Thursday. Holy crap this week is starting out rough. I am thankful for my awesome weekend and even more thankful for all the cultural experiences I have had thus far. Nothing is better than traveling and learning about international marketing and management while in a foreign country, working with multiple foreigners. I couldn't get this experience just anywhere. As much as I love MCB and I have learned to appreciate our educational system, I still think I am getting something of value here and for that I am thankful!

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