I've met many incredible people in Lithuania, fellow travelers and hoops heads. I've always been interested in hearing and sharing stories. I believe that a man's journey can be measured by who they've met and spent time with.
Below are a collection of "storytellers" I've encountered:
John of England
UK Freelance journalist. I met him at the Fans Campsite in Panevezys, during my time there the many British Fans were valiantly supporting a hapless team. Upon leaving Great Britain defeated Portugal and stung Poland to salvage some pride and shake up Group A.
We bumped into each other in Vilnius and Kaunas. It was a treat picking his brain and watching him sniff out stories, busting out his trusty recorder when moments called for it.
Syra of France
French journalist I met in my hostel in Vilnius. She is an inspiration, starting out as an independent blogger she now works for French Basketball Mag 'Reverse'. We shot hoops and talked about the reality of "living the dream". We coincidentally found ourselves in the same hostel in Kaunas. Apart from her passion for the game, what I'll take from her is the discipline and professionalism one needs to maintain a lifestyle of Basketball and Travel, negotiating the perils of converting a hobby into a job.
Tim of Holland
We started chatting on the busride from Klaipeda to coastal Nida. A charming and thoughtful guy in the opening leg of his 1 year of travel. Departing from his home in the Netherlands, he had been traveling through the Baltic States via CouchSurfing and Hitchhiking, it was his inspiration that made me try the latter for the first time.
We shared a lot of overlapping thoughts and it was pleasure to reunite with him in Vilnius and meet his ragtag crew of friends and new associates. I will be sure to follow his many coming adventures on his blog.
Ramon of Spain
links: Atlas of Wonders
Ramon was one of the many Couchsurfers I met through Tim on a memorable night in Vilnius. We reunited a few days later as he was typically snapping the sights, he joined our assortment of newly-made friends for a coffee.
Ramon is my kind of photographer, shameless and prolific. Shooting first, asking for permission later. When I first met him, he fearlessly took a bucketload of photos of every social interaction in sight. Inexplicably his passion project is documenting the gorgeous but overlooked locations of the world.
Ieva and Dominkya of Lithuania
links: Kombajns' - YouTube Channel
Quirky, fun-loving, social and creative. These gals had just returned from a month hitchhiking, CouchSurfing and camping around Europe. They have an amazing spirit and thankfully because they document their travels by Video you can live vicariously through their many adventures.
We met after dancing Dubstep with them in Kankles bar in Kaunas. A few days later we hung out together with a Spaniard and Frenchman driving to the city's local gems, picking mushrooms for that evening's Dinner and movie.
VIDEO: Challenge accepted ;) Eurotrip, done.
Romain of France
links: Romain-Experiment.blogspot (French)
He was a French superfan Couchsurfing with the girls, my preferred supporter having backed them from the start. We actually had a brief encounter the night previous in a nightclub as he was with the Les Bleus fans celebrating with the French stars. In the name of social etiquette, I'd promised an embargo after 3 weeks of non-stop basketball talk, I couldn't resist as he was so knowledgable of the game and had a few French connections that gave him access to the team and even tickets to Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Nil of Spain
links: CargoLTreuManya.blogspot (Catalan)
Though his nation was victorious, Nil wasn't in Lithuania for the Baloncesto. Just a stop as he did a short jaunt around Europe on his motorcycle. He was being hosted by the girls after he was poached from another Lithuanian person he was CouchSurfing with, they met on the street a night after I had met them.
Nil was my partner in the mushroom picking challenge. He was the MVP as we bested the girls in Mushroom presentation as voted by our French critic.
- Read Balancing Basketball and Travel in Lithuania - Part I