I’ve been to a lot of weird places in my life – shit, I’ve been to Wyong – but few have been stranger than the Hill of Crosses, just outside of the Lithuanian city of Siaulia. It’s a bizarre and incredible place that shouldn’t exist… but does.
In case the name doesn’t give it away, the Hill of Crosses is just that, a hill packed with hundreds of thousands of crosses. Big ones, little ones, shiny ones and wooden ones are jammed all over what would otherwise be a nondescript hill in the middle of nowhere. No one really knows how many crosses are there, with thousands more added every year by Christian pilgrims..
What makes the Hill of Crosses especially bizarre is that there seems to be no real reason for it being where it is. It’s located about 12 kilometres north of Siaulia – a drab town with not much going for it – by the side of a busy road, surrounded by numerous other small hills. In my opinion, they should’ve built it closer to my hostel in Vilnius, so I didn’t have to spend three hours getting out there.
The hill is definitely worth checking out, because there really is nothing like it in the world. It has a long and twisted history, having originally been built as a sort of fuck you to the Russian Empire, before being pulled down by the Soviets (and even covered in sewage) numerous times over the years, leading to it becoming a symbol of national pride for the Lithuanians. Of course, I showed the place the respect it deserves by crab dancing amongst the crosses.
I was, however, disappointed not to see the following crosses on the hill:
* Crap former footy player Ryan Cross
* Backwards-clothes-wearing rap dorks Kriss Kross
* Popular cartoon character Kross-ty the Clown
* Crime-drame-with-a-hot-lead-actress Cross-ing Jordan
* Integral component of pedestrian transport the zebra cross-ing
* Delicious Easter treat the hot cross bun
* Notorious Sydney suburb and home of many fine prostitutes, Kings Cross
Of course, I couldn’t go a whole day without embarrassing myself, and I certainly did that on the train ride home. I was thirsty after a long day of culturin’, so I picked up a couple of can of beer for the two-and-a-half-hour trip back to Vilnius. Now the Lithuanians are great little blokes, but not exactly known as Europe’s party boys, so the quaffing of alcohol on public transport is strictly forbidden. But that wasn’t going to stop me.
I cleverly hid my first beer inside a brown paper wrapper that had held my lunch, and started cheekily sipping my lager while the Lits around me stared blankly into space, unaware of my genius plan. All was going well until I accidentally knocked the can over, spilling half a litres of golden loveliness into my crotch, which then cascaded down my leg before forming a huge puddle on the floor.
Once the other passengers started screaming and jumping around as what certainly looked like urine spread through the carriage, a couple of stern-faced guards burst through the days and started yelling at me, as I just sat there, drenched and embarrassed. People were yelling and laughing and taking photos of me as I tried to hold back the tears, knowing that the only was to end the humiliation was to reveal my hidden beer can – which could’ve led to a night in a Lithuanian jail cell.
Instead, I just pointed at my doodle, shrugged my shoulders and said, “Oopsy!” while the carriage exploded in jeers. It was not my finest moment.