I saw these huge buildings along the highway 134 from Kalvarija to Lazdijai. The neglected and empty factory (or maybe rather Soviet-style collective farm) didn't work more probably since market economy came back to Lithuania in 1992 or so. They are common part of Lithuanian landscape now.
Well, the previous Soviet Union loved to put up BIG, HUGE, the world's largest factories, never mind the costs or any economic calculations. BIG meant good, admirable that time, never mind it made or not any profits. And only huge factories were worth of the best and the most powerful state on our globe that was the Soviet Union.
The main difference on the countryside landscape between Poland and Lithuania is the size of farmlands. They were much larger in Lithuania than in Poland.
Why large farmlands in Lithuania?
Because of massive and obligatory collectivisation of farmlands in the Soviet Union. Farmers were forced by bolsheviks to join their farmlands into a large farmland governed by a state = communist party activists, formally by representatives of farmers chosen in "free" pools. The farmlands had to produce as much food as the party wanted (or more). In 50' it was a crime (sabotage against people's authorities) to produce less... a lot of Lithuanian farmers were sent to concentration camps in Siberia...
Why small farmlands in Poland?
Poland was the only country of former Soviet bloc where individual, privately owned although small farmlands survived due to strong resistance of Polish peasants in 40' and 50'. Collective farmlands were created mostly on lands which were annexed after Germans who had to leave their homes in communist Poland. That time they were much more efficient than Soviet-style so called "kolhoz" = collective farms. That's why there was no hunger in Poland in 50' in contrast to some other Soviet bloc countries and Soviet republics.
Nowadays... larger farmlands are mostly needed. Polish small farmers probably will have to go through hard times... although... we will see.
The first, not at all Lithuanian, architecture I could see in Lithuania was a group of cottages or rather kiosks located on the right side of the highway when I crossed Polish-Lithuanian border at Budzisko - Kalvarija. They all were similar to this one on my picture - rather typical eaxample of new Lithuanian small business architecture. I stopped there to buy Lithuanian currency.
They sold third-party insurances there, necessary for cars registered outside European Union.
There were very few new houses along my way from Kalvarija to Rudamina and Lazdijai. Instead, there were quite many wooden houses similar to this one on my picture. I found that one so lovely, secret and neglected that I stopped to take a picture. It was still inhabited although looked like not renovated for years with plastic wraps instead of glasses in its windows.
I drove secondary highway No 134 from Kalvarija to Rudamina and Lazdijai through mostly flat or a little bit hilly area covered by green forests and meadows. During this short drive I realized how wrong and unfair (or just not up-to-date) are many opinions on Lithuania - real prejudicies towards Lithuania.
My or others prejudices on Lithuania - true or false?
1. very poor and bumpy secondary highways (completely WRONG!),
2. no road direction signs on secondary roads (WRONG although at a few places...),
3. bandits waiting to rob tourists (completely WRONG!),
4. no parking lots (RIGHT on secondary roads but... what for? there were shoulders and no traffic there),
5. no tourist facilities along secondary roads (RIGHT, no restaurants, motels, hotels; hmm... no tourists as well :-),
6. no cars (MOSTLY RIGHT, very few cars :-),
7. corruptive police along road waiting for your euros (completely WRONG!),
8. car thefts everywhere (WRONG!),
9. hordes of beggars everywhere (WRONG!),
10. very poor choice of food in local groceries (WRONG!)
Conclusion: do NOT become prejudiced, do not believe in everything, keep in mind and always remember that Lithuania is quite different country and culture than former Soviet Union was, additionally Lithuania is changing very fast now (2004).
The typical landscape of Lithuania and its part around Kalvarija looks like on my picture. Almost flat area covered with green meadows and/or large landfarms with some forests and villages.
Doesn't Lithuania look like... Ireland? Hmm... I am not sure, I wasn't there yet, but maybe soon...
Most old, wooden houses were not fenced in the countryside around Kalvarija. They were surrounded by meadows covered by green not trimmed grass, some wild trees and were crossed by unpaved tracks which together formed yards definetely far from French gardens, rather closer to English ones... right?
Field poppies (Papaver rhoeas L.) are quiet common field flowers in the area around Kalvarija. They are used to produce opium - a drug used in medicine to control pain or help people sleep, a narcotic as well. Divine herb of joy, or evil weed of daemons ? Both, I think. That's why poppy plantations are registered and need special permission, at least in Poland. Does it work the same way in Lithuania ?
Common daisy (Bellis perennis) is another popular field flower in Lithuania and probably the most widely-known of all wildflowers - do they live around your place, too?
It has a round yellow centre and a lot of thin white petals in a circular arrangement. They usually grew in short grass along highways. Daisies are used to treat catarrh, coughs, minor wounds, varicose veins, sore eyes, and in homeopathy to treat bruises, sprains, and eczema. Just in case... do not try to eat them, they taste acrid, even cows skip them :-)