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Lithuania: Camping Harmonie (Malcolm Hill) PDF Printable Version E-mail

 

Camping Harmonie, Rudiskes, Near Vilnius, Lithuania

Malcolm G Hill

January 2008

We met Malcolm several times during the winter of 2007/8. He was staying in his Volkswagen camper at Camping Thines, near Finikunda in Messinia, the southwest corner of the Greek Peloponnese. We were staying nearby at Camping Finikes. He had travelled down from the Baltic Republics via Romania, among other adventures.

Here is his account of a stay at the excellent Camping Harmonie, one of several Dutch owned and managed campsites newly opening in Eastern Europe. The description of the campsite is followed by 8 splendid images.

Among several Dutch-owned campsites in Lithuania, a notable one is Camping Harmonie. This quite remarkable site, owned by an expatriate Dutchman and his Lithuanian wife, is set deep in the primeval forests just to the south-west of the capital city of Vilnius. Mr Braun, now in his mid-sixties, a sometime professional footballer, was also the coach of the Lithuanian Olympic cycling team for several years immediately after the country's liberation from the Soviet yoke. I think he also rode in the Tour de France cycle race but I could never quite clarify this satisfactorily; he is a somewhat reticent man regarding his own accomplishments. Since Le Tour was on during the week I spent at Harmonie, I was able to watch the race every day on the Common Room television set whenever I wished.

Lauded in glowing terms in Alan Rogers guide, Camping Harmonie is indeed a unique campground. Entirely surrounded by the vast Baltic pine forests, it comprises two lush grassy fields where one can park at random, both supplied with 6 amp electrical posts: a large field, where I parked (in the middle to keep as far from the hordes of mosquitoes as possible), and a smaller one with a beautiful tree-shaded, reed-encircled pond off to one side.

Scattered around the perimeter of the fields are various odd-looking sculptures and elaborate garden ornaments, including a miniature windmill. The owner's cottage, a mini- motel and the service buildings, toilets, washrooms, laundry room, etc, are adjacent. The adjoining kitchen garden is full of Mrs Braun's vegetables, of which she very kindly gave me a generous sampling.

But the Common Room is the campground's piece de resistance. This is a two-story log cabin, which I believe was built, or at least designed, by Mr Braun: as homely and welcoming a building as one could wish for. With a bar in one corner, bookcase-lined walls and two huge wooden tables down the centre, it is the gathering place every evening for the predominantly Dutch campers, who quaff wine or beer or Mr Braun's freely distributed coffee, swap traveller's tales and generally put the world to rights.

And when the news in Dutch comes on the television, everyone gathers round the corner screen in hushed silence. Every morning at about 9 o'clock Mr Braun takes anybody who wishes to go into Vilnius that day to the local railway station at Rudiskes in his Mercedes station wagon. If there are too many to fit into the one vehicle, his wife will also be roped in to help with another car. And at the end of the day he meets the evening train to drive everyone back to the campground again. No charge just one of his many generous little services. Among other daily activities are mountain-bike training rides with a bunch of the local village youths, in which Mr Braun leads the way along the local forest paths and apparently woe betide you if you cannot keep up with his cracking pace!

The site is sign-posted to the left, just prior to entering Rudiskes on the road from Trakai. Immediately after crossing the railway line on a dirt road, in about a kilometre take the left fork where the road divides and continue for about another two kilometres until you see the 'Camping Harmonie' sign on the right hand side, pointing into the heart of the forest.

Camping Harmonie, Pusyno 3, LT-70347, Rudiskes, Lithuania

Tel: 61421560 E-mail:

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