When I crossed the border from Poland to Lithuania in Budzisko - Kalvarija, I stopped a few hundreds meters futher on unpaved square (on the right) by these small, wooden cottages on my picture.
What was there? They sold insurance for a car (obligatory third-party insurance) there. Before 1 May 2004 so called "Green card" (pan-European third-party insurance) didn't cover Lithuania. Since 1 May when both Poland and Lithuania joined European Union, national third-party insurence became enough.
Will they go bancrupt? Hmm... a few cottages were closed, the rest changed themselves to currency exchange points but... Lithuania will get European currency (Euro) soon... EU means the end of some businesses as well.
When I stopped my car to buy Lithuanian currency just after passing through the border crossing point Budzisko - Kalvarija, I saw three young boys (one was a kid) with a bucket of water and cloths in their hands. Wow, they even didn't ask me and started to wash my car. Welcome in Lithuania :-)
Well, although at first I wanted to have a little bit dirty car (from the outside) not to attract thefts (hmm... that's my wrong prejudice towards Lithuania) I didn't say a word to them. They were fast and good workers. At the end I paid them 10.00 Lt. But they asked me to pay 20.00 Lt!, they asked me (almost begged) with a smile a few times and... broke my heart, I added them 5.00 Lt. They said thank you in... Polish language and started to wait for the next car.
Haha, wasn't it the most expensive wash car in Lithuania? Never mind. Welcome in Lithuania :-) Were they new young Lithuanian businessmen? Future middle class? :-)
I found quite many beautiful and mysterious old wooden houses which looked like not renovated for years on the way from Kalvarija to Rudamina and Lazdijai.
I wasn't supriced that the houses were still inhabited. Well, it was nothing more than a sign of poverty which I could find more or less often in each country. But I was surpriced to see plastic wraps (foil) instead of glass in some windows of these houses. What do they do to survive winter time?
From my VT-friend Dee (Yaqui) from Tehachapi, California, USA:
(...) Maybe about those missing window panes aren't missing. I know here in the states back in the east on some of the much older homes if the residence can't afford new windows panes they put plastic bags or wrap of some sort to insulate to keep the heat inside because of the harsh winter months.
Thank you, Dee. Maybe, I don't know...
I crossed the Polish-Lithuanian border at Budzisko - Kalvarija on 1 May 2004, that was the first day of both countries in European Union which meant the first day of NO custum checkup at the border. There was still passport checkup and it will remain till both countries sign so called Schengen Treaty (probably 2007).
For me, the only difference was that for the first time in my life I (like any other EU citizen) was allowed to cross the border without a passport, my Polish ID was enough. Surely, I had a passport by me (I still can't imagine traveling without a passport haha) but I showed my Polish ID instead and I had no problems :-))).
Hmm... later on I showed my old Polish ID (real small book :-) to Latvian border guard and he asked me a little bit rudely in Russian: "szto eta?" = what is that ? Hmm... I had to show him my passport :-(((.
The border looked like ghost town - no traffic, no people, no custom officers... Hmm... there will be no passport checkup when both countries sign so called Shengen Treaty.
At least toilet/restroom in this buiding on my picture was open :-).
There were two crossing points one on Polish and the second a few hundreds meter futher. Passport checkup was only on Polish side. On Lithuanian side I have to meander designated route among empty border checkup stands.
I saw old or very old, alone ladies (widows?) walking slowly with some difficulties around old, neglected, wooden houses in the countryside around Kalvarija. The ladies looked very poor in their old-fashionable clothes by houses not renovated for years.
Was it a sign of hard old age or... the best simple life? Did the old ladies stay alone at those houses? Didn't they get any social help from a state or people?
There were numerous bus stops along highway 134 from Kalvarija to Lazdijai. Some of them where located among empty fields, far away from any houses. What for?
There were no shelters for waiting passengers (a bench instead) and no passengers as well. The kerb was Soviet in style - huge and of poor quality. It was painted in black and white.
One more small observation: a few times I unexpectadly saw people walking along a highway far from any village or town.