The beauty of the Winter Sea: a Trip to Palanga Off-Peak
For a lot of people when they think of the seaside, they visualise sunny skies, tan lines and icy drinks. Not many would consider the beach to be a winter holiday. The way I see it, this purely depends on an individual’s taste, as I can vouch from my experience that there is still plenty of fun to be had when travelling to the seaside off-peak. Naturally, it depends on the resort itself as the contributing factors such as the size of the place and its popularity can affect how many attractions are open.
My most recent beach getaway was to the pearl of resorts Lithuania has to offer, Palanga, as an anniversary trip last November. Without much further ado, let’s go down the memory lane and see what the sea (hehe) has to offer during the coldest months of the year!
Where we stayed
We happened to stumble onto a good deal at Palanga Park Hotel, which I believe was 120 euros for three nights with breakfast included, as well as dinner for one evening. The hotel itself is conveniently located 0.4 miles from the sea and right in front of the entrance of one of the nicest parks you’ll have the pleasure of walking through (but more on that later). It’s separated into a few apartment buildings, which gives some privacy. We were lucky to stay on the second floor, which provided some really nice views. While the room was small, it was comfortable and cosy.
The included breakfast was mostly traditional Lithuanian breakfast food, such as pancakes, sausages, cold salads, eggs, bread, the works. We definitely got our money’s worth for it as we loaded a good three-four plates to carry to our table (we travel with our stomachs, don’t judge). The one negative thing I could say about it was that apart from bread, once something ran out, it was never refilled throughout the three hours the buffet was open. Considering the time of the year, there were surprisingly quite a few people there so if we weren’t early enough to go down to the buffet, that meant some items were unavailable.
When it comes to dinner, it gets trickier for me to describe it without being too negative, but then again, it’s important to highlight my experience so that others would have an idea if they’re thinking of booking rooms in the same place. Since the dinner was included, we assumed we wouldn’t have much choice, but in some other hotels I stayed on that had this type of a deal, I could still choose between two or three alternatives. Here, we already had a salad placed on the table (not to mention that we already saw them on the tables in the dining room at least three hours before dinner time). While it seems like a go-to option for a starter, the catch was that it was a feta cheese and tomato salad. My boyfriend despises tomatoes (which means making Mexican food in our house is a challenge) and he’s lactose intolerant, so I basically had two starters for myself. The main, which was chicken breast with roast potatoes and sweet chilli sauce was okay, but regardless, food hygiene and selection weren’t of the best standard.
The last thing to note was that even though we left a sign asking to clean our room, no one came up to do so when we heard other rooms being cleaned. However, regardless of these few experiences, the stay there was still definitely enjoyable.
Where we went
There are few places I walked through that felt as peaceful as the Birute botanical park. On our second day, we spent two straight hours just strolling around it and barely felt the tiredness (until we sat down, at least). Living in a quite concrete-based city, it was refreshing to see so much greenery, that for the most part was untouched. I could feel my lungs cleansing with every breath and I didn’t want that walk to end, feeling like as big as the place was, it was not big enough.
In the middle of the botanical park, there is the Amber Museum. While we didn’t go inside as we weren’t sure if it was open, we explored the surrounding area, which was nicely arranged and kept up, marble monuments adding sophistication to the atmosphere. If we go back there anytime soon, one thing I would definitely like to do is visit the museum as I feel it would be an enjoyable experience.
My favourite spot, though, would have to be two lakes (or ponds, perhaps) that we’ve come across during our walk. Because of the temperature, they were completely frozen over, so we threw rocks on the ice, watching them bounce off. There were benches, so we sat on one and enjoyed the view, feeling the serenity settling in us. After all, there are few things as soothing as nature.
Another place that was our choice for a stroll was, obviously, the beach. There isn’t much to say about the experience itself, as the weather was cold and windy so the walk itself wasn’t the most comfortable, but I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. There’s something about the sea in winter – it feels alien as it’s too cold to swim in, but at the same time, it feels welcoming. Like it’s showing you what else its capable of while it’s not serving the purpose humans gave to it. On one of our walks, it was sunny and on the other one it was cloudy with a bit of rain, so I got the chance to snap some varied photos for memories, although there are some things a picture just can’t capture.
Where we dined
Since we did go to Palanga off-peak, the choices for restaurants or cafes were quite sparse, but that was to be expected. However, we still managed to find some high-quality food in some really nice atmospheric places.
The first one I should mention is Resort Pub. While it took us good fifteen minutes to find a comfortable sitting space as the place is quite small, the atmosphere added a touch ofcosinessto it which persuaded us to stay. The menu had plenty of choices both food and drink wise. I could definitely recommend chicken breast stuffed with brie cheese as well as a traditional fish and chips. Both meals were so delicious and filling we were stuffed in the best possible way. One downside is that the place can be a bit pricy, especially when it comes to cocktails so it’s definitely more for those who want to splash out a bit.
Another place we went to was Molinis Asotis. Although it’s a Eastern European cousin restaurant for the most part, I felt like some Italian and ordered a pizza, which was definitely satisfying, even if I couldn’t finish the whole thing by myself. The only awkward part was that apart from one other person, we were the only ones there as it was a Monday which meant everyone who came for the weekend went home that day. At least we had some peace and quiet!
The restaurant that has a bit of a controversial reputation is de Cuba. The negative comments mostly aren’t because of the food or drinks, but because of the service provided. In my opinion, it depends on the day and time you go to the restaurant, and who you get served by. Our experience turned out to be quite enjoyable and we got to enjoy what the menu has to offer, including an impressive choice of cocktails that could easily compete with places like Las Iguanas or Slug and Lettuce. Overall, definitely a nice experience for us.
We ended up having our anniversary dinner at a place called SportoLizdas. Some might not consider it a choice for a romantic evening, but we both enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere and the choice for food was big enough to make sure we’ll be able to pick out something we like. The dim red lighting also added the atmosphere which made for an evening well spent.
Lastly, we found the cutest little coffee shop near the museum of Illusions (which unfortunately was closed during our time here) called caféBanduke. It had the best mulled wine we’ve ever tasted for a great price, as well as some prosecco and plenty of choices for sweet snacks, such as muffins, croissants and so on. It is absolutely a place we want to go back to when we get the chance!