For one year I decided to take a risk and work, live in a smaller, southern city in Lithuania – DRUSKININKAI!
It is a spa city best known for clean wheather, mineral water, mud and forests. Population is only 14,000 and most of the people know each other from the young days. For me it was a new thing, when you go to work and meet at least four acquaintances or your neighbors knows your colleagues and doctors. The relationship between each other is very close and you can feel the community feeling.
As an active woman I searched all the time for activities and something new to try. For the first time I tried flatland skiing, SUPing, skating on frozen lake, snowboarding and so on. I can strongly say that I had no time to be bored and I met the most amazing, honest people who thought me a lot about life.
First time I heard about this sanatorium from one great photographer who decided to go there at night and take some pictures, but at that time I didn’t even question about that amazing place.
Then one of my colleagues told me that she was there and other colleagues started to tell stories about how everyone has visited that sanatorium when they were children, because there they went to concerts, dances or some city events. It was a main meeting place, full of people, luxury and joy.
Although, now it is just a huge abandoned sanatorium in the heart of Druskininkai. You can’t find a lot of information about this place on the Internet, but I found in apleisti.lt that from 2000 the sanatorium was already dying and on 2007 the building was already closed.
Everything was left as it was, you can find beds, old school TVs, chairs, documents of the clients and so on. More photos here. When you enter the building you do not feel cozy because you can hear wind blowing, dripping water, some walls are burnt and you do not feel alone in that building. I am not talking about ghosts, but maybe some homeless people are living there and you do not know when you will meet somebody. Also, it is illegal to enter that building so you might meet the guard or a policeman when you leave the sanatorium.
This place is well known for locals although for tourists there is no information, I asked one tourism center employee why you do not show partisan bunker to tourists and Lithuanians who are from other cities. His answer was sad and logical at the same time “why do we send tourists to the forests where they will not spend any money?”.
How to find it? This place is near the tree cakes museum “Romnesa” , when you go to “Romnesa” you will see a sign to turn right to see that museum, but you need to turn left in order to see partisan bunker and follow the forest road. After almost a kilometer you will see a really small arrow to turn right and then go down the road until you will see the amazing forest site and there will be a stand about partisan bunker history.
History about Lithuania partisans:
This place has a magical aura, you feel proud and you understand that others fought for your calm nights.
Most visited places in Druskininkai
Information about other amazing places which you have to visit you will find everywhere you go, because all hotels, hostels and sanatoriums will offer you to go there. Main Druskininkai attractions:
A beautiful park to go for a walk or for a bike ride
Main meeting place in Druskininkai
Aquapark in a city center, although it is mostly crowded during weekends.
It is a sculpture park of Soviet-era statues, I think it’s too expensive, although it is the only one park in Lithuania.
It is the winter sports complex that is open all year round. Worth to try.
It is a great place for a walk near the lake in a middle of the city.
Favorite places for a great meal:
The have just amazing mussels in coconut sauce, I am dreaming all the time about this dish! It’s the most delicious mussels I have ever tried.
They have tasty italian pizzas and I highly recommend to try camembert with focaccia.
This place works only during summer season, but they have homemade ice cream! You can feel blended strawberries or cherries and they even have ghee butter ice cream.
Old school cafe where time doesn’t change anything like waitress or the whole interior.
My main recommendation is to enjoy the nature of Druskininkai. This city is also known for mushrooms and berries. Enjoy what forests gives you, take a bike and make a tour, go swim in the lakes and just slow your pace.