life through the lens
The best attractions of Kaliningrad lie on its Baltic coast, so I combined a stay at Zelenogradsk with day trips to the region - April 2015.
Like the rest of Russia the Rouble is the currency of the Kaliningrad enclave
On the very edge of the capital, along the road leading to Svetlogorsk, is Fort No.5. When you see this monument you're at the right place - Kaliningrad
The outer walls and moat of Fort No.5, also known as Fort Friedrich Wilhelm III. It's one of a series of forts forming an outer ring, in addition to the inner ring of 19th century forts covered in page 1 - Kaliningrad
Memorial to the soldiers who died in the Battle of Konigsberg.
There's a museum and exhibition hall inside Fort No.5 - Kaliningrad
A propaganda poster portrays Germany as a three-headed dragon - Kaliningrad
A rather pathetic attempt to visit Fort No.1 on the eastern outskirts of Kaliningrad. Even the nearby Motel Baltika hadn't heard of it, but I eventually came across this view behind a petrol station. Not worth it!
A wide Baltic coast beach at Zelenogradsk, just 45mins by train or bus from Kaliningrad
The early 19th century Kurhaus on Kurortniy Prospekt, with Lenin hanging around in the garden - Zelenogradsk
A lot of care and attention has gone into reconstucting this water tower, built in 1905. Not surprising, as the tower is home to an art collection of cats, the Murarium - Zelenogradsk
Welcome to Zelenogradsk!
There's some kind of feline obsession in Zelenogradsk
Coffee shop at the bus station - Zelenogradsk
Zelenogradsk marks the beginning of the Curonian Spit, a narrow sand-dune strip of land that stretches 98km to Klaipeda in Lithuania. It separates the Baltic Sea from the freshwater Curonian Lagoon (pictured) - Morskoye, Curonian Spit
The Curonian Spit, or Kurshkaya Kosa, is a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tiny village of Morskoye is 45km north of Zelenogradsk, close to the border with Lithuania - Morskoye, Curonian Spit
Just south of Morskoye is Epha's Height trail, a 3km path linking the Baltic Sea with the Curonian Lagoon - Epha's Height, Curonian Spit
It was a rainy, windswept day but the lagoon can (just!) be made out, past the shifting sand dunes in the foregound - Epha's Height, Curonian Spit
Keep heading north and you'll end up in Lithuania - Curonian Spit
Moving the other way, the Dancing Forest is at the 37km mark (37km north of Zelenogradsk) - Dancing Forest, Curonian Spit
The twisting, dancing pine trees give this section its name - Dancing Forest, Curonian Spit
CCCP is the Cyrillic version of USSR, the former Soviet Union. I found this picture in what was purported to be the tourist information office, though all I discovered was something more akin to a youth centre - Rybachy, Curonian Spit
A very Soviet looking statue in the grounds of the youth centre/school/tourist info office - Rybachy, Curonian Spit
Rybachy, around the 33km mark, is the largest village on the Russian side of the Spit with 1,000 inhabitants - Rybachy, Curonian Spit
So far I hadn't had a decent view of the lagoon. I asked around, and lucky me was escorted through the Rybachy Biological Station to this shoreline - Rybachy, Curonian Spit
A speedboat powers across the Curonian Lagoon - Rybachy, Curonian Spit
At the 14km mark is the interesting and very quirky Museum of Russian Superstitions - Curonian Spit
The museum displays carvings representing various spirits in Russian mythology. Unfortunately all the descriptions are in Russian - Curonian Spit
At last some blue sky and a lovely Baltic Sea coastline (opposite the museum) - Curonian Spit
You only have to walk about 500m from the sea to reach the Curonian Lagoon - Curonian Spit
A calm and glistening lagoon - Curonian Spit
Pine forest, sand dunes, migrating birds, fish and wildlife are all on show - Curonian Spit
A windmill at Lesnoy, the first main village on the spit after Zelenogradsk, at the 11km mark - Lesnoy, Curonian Spit
Until recently a permit was required to visit the militarised town of Baltiysk
The entrance to Pillau Citadel, now an off-limits military area - Baltiysk
The moat surrounding the 17th century Pillau Citadel. In German/Prussian times Baltiysk was called Pillau
The Torpedo Boat Memorial, a strange monument in a square that was called Adolf Hitler Platz in the Nazi era - Baltiysk
Baltiysk is a naval port that's home to the Baltic Fleet, and a town of major strategic importance due to its year-round ice-free port and proximity to Western Europe
The early 19th century lighthouse stands behind a statue of Peter the Great, ruler of the Russian empire in the 17th/18th centuries - Baltiysk
Naval and cruise ships enter the Kaliningrad enclave via the Baltiysk Strait - Baltiysk
A decrepit water tower on the banks of the Baltiysk Strait.
Beneath the tower is the entrance to a flooded subterranean tunnel/bunker complex, which may connect to the Baltiysk Spit across the water. The rumour goes that in recent years a diver tried to see where the submerged section led, but his rope was cut and his body never recovered - Baltiysk
Overlooking the entrance to the Baltiysk Strait is an equestrian statue of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna of Russia - Baltiysk
From the statue there's good views of the arc of beach to the north east - Baltiysk
The Baltiysk Spit (also called the Vistula Spit or Baltiyskaya Kosa) is a narrow spit of land opposite Baltiysk that stretches all the way to Poland.
Baltiysk was the only place where I booked a tour as I wanted to visit the Baltiysk Spit. It's home to war bunkers and a former German air base built prior to WWII (pictured above) - Baltiysk
However my guide messed up - a soldier was at the ferry office enforcing the notice stating a permit was required to visit the Spit. My guide said we didn't need one but the officer wouldn't back down (not for a bribe either, which landed us in more bother). After allegedly phoning his superiors we left, to mutters of 'bloody KGB'. It sounds like foreigners often get away without a permit but I got unlucky during a crackdown. Damn! It's likely that the spit is a location for military installations, no doubt built well away from prying eyes.
Apparently war bunkers are scattered along the dunes of the Baltiysk Spit, but a zoom lens was the closest I got! Baltiysk
The obligtory statue of Lenin stands in Svetly
This poster, originally a WWII (or Cold War?) propaganda poster, encourages locals to pay their taxes - Svetly
The Baltiysk Spit mentioned earlier separates the Baltic Sea from the Vistula Lagoon (or Kaliningrad Lagoon). Svetly is a good place to see the Kaliningrad Sea Canal, a banked section of the lagoon along which ships travel as they head to Kaliningrad port
One of the smaller boats in the Kaliningrad Sea Canal - Svetly
The most attractive place in Kaliningrad is the spa town of Svetlogorsk
The Frog Princess greets arrivals, opposite the train station - Svetlogorsk
A street-art advertisement on the walk down to the beach - Svetlogorsk
Along the promenade is the Nymph statue - Svetlogorsk
A narrow strip of beach on the waterfront - Svetlogorsk
Also on the waterfront promenade is the colourful zodiac mosaic sundial - Svetlogorsk
The Central Square, with the Organ Hall on the left - Svetlogorsk
A cafe mural (like the ones in Kaliningrad's Fish Village) in front of the Rauschen Water Tower - Svetlogorsk
The 25m high Rauschen Water Tower - Svetlogorsk
Some of the older German homes in Svetlogorsk
Waiting for the bus to Yantarny at Lake Tikhoe - Svetlogorsk
This was one of my first impressions of Yantarny. It gets better!
Yantarny is known for having the world's largest deposits of amber
Yantarny has a wide stretch of sandy beach
Above the beach is the upmarket Schloss Hotel - Yantarny
Not sure who this is but the cleaning tools were out in force to scrub him up - Yantarny
Crossing the Polish border at Mamonovo, then on to Gdansk and the European Union
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www.eng.rzd.ru - Russian Railways website
http://visit-kaliningrad.ru - Kaliningrad tourist board
www.visitrussia.org.uk - Russia National Tourist Office
www.realrussia.co.uk - UK/Russia based company - visa support and train tickets
www.seat61.com - Seat 61's page on train travel in Russia
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