24 November 2010

To Grandmother's House We Went

Homestays in Lithuania are often referred to as sleeping "with the grandmother" (a sort of unfortunate translation). Arriving in Plateliai at around 3:30pm with winter early-evening darkness approaching, we stopped into the tourist office, where the very friendly and helpful woman made a quick phone call and then gave us two step driving directions to Granny Juliya's house.
She was waiting outside, hugging a long sweater around herself and returned my wave-and-smile with a bigger wave-and-smile. We pulled into her driveway and found that, like 99.99% of houses in Lithuania, she had a basketball hoop. Grandma Jules was really excited that we were from New York and, judging by the signatures in her guest book, we could possibly have been her first Americans. She apologized for not speaking English, explaining that she knew Lithuanian and Russian and had learned German in school. I made the mistake of trying to communicate that Merlin had studied French in school and I, Spanish, because she then excitedly began to speak to me in Espanol. I was too embarassed to admit that I hardly understood her - that her fourth language was better than my second.
We were given a tour of our guest space, on the second floor of her house, which could be accessed by a staircase straight from the parking lot. Our room, as you can see above, was lovely. I am a firm believer that matching is overrated, so I felt at home at once. In the hallway was a plug-in kettle, some tea and mugs. Naturally, I chose the one with the picture of her cowboy hat wearing granddaughter on it.
The bathroom had one of the most interesting plumbing mechanisms we've seen yet. There was one faucet for both the sink and the bathtub, it simply swiveled from one to the other according to your need. Up from its base was a shower hose that could be handheld or suspended on a hook overhead. We learned that the second option could result in some serious behind-the-tub leakage. Fortunately or unfortunately, all the water that spilled seemed to disappear. We really hope it didn't seep down and start dripping into Grandma's kitchen.
And this was our view. We could step right out onto our own private balcony overlooking a pond in the Zemaitija National Park. If you're wondering, it was the equivalent of $20 for the night.

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