On my summer vacation, I went with my family to Lithuania and we visited a water park. In this essay I will talk about the ways in which Lithuanian water parks differ from ones in America.
Upon hearing the words “water park,” we in the United States tend to conjure up images of tropically themed spaces where lifeguards tirelessly patrol brightly colored oases in which children wait for gigantic buckets of water to be overturned on their heads and creepy robotic dolls come alive at 8:00 pm in the lobby.
Not in Lithuania.
After leaving Vilnius, we stayed for a few days in the spa town of Druskininkai. There are no mineral springs or natural wonders to speak of in Druskininkai, but it is surrounded by lush forests and fresh air. For reasons unclear to me, over the years Druskininkai has evolved into a landlocked resort town and now it’s chock full of hotels and spas offering beauty and medicinal treatments ranging from your basic mud wrap to a turpentine bath to cryogenic freezing. Its pièce de resistance is a hotel/waterpark/spa complex at the crown of the main drag.
The first way in which Lithuanian water parks are different from ones in America is that it’s hard to figure out how to get inside them. You have to circle the lobby several times with your husband and kids who are asking for ice cream and counting on you to guide them through the land of your ancestors until you eventually muster up the courage to ask a German woman who is exiting all showered and relaxed looking, “Wo ist ein secret entrance?”
You enter the complex through a small basement doorway marked either “men” or “women” that leads through a changing room into a cavernous space where there is a wave pool so powerful that you will drown if you do not have at least one limb attached to an inner tube.
I found this out the hard way when, after having relaxed in a lukewarm whirlpool alongside of a Russian man with a skin condition, I went to join my husband and kids in said wave pool. I could see them on the opposite side of the center island and since there were no more available inner tubes, I decided to swim out to meet them.
One thing about the Lithuanian water park is that, with the exception of the kiddy play area, all the pools are easily five feet deep at their shallowest part and there is no such thing as “zero entry.” Which is not a problem unless you, like me, are five feet tall or less.
I knew swimming out to my family was a mistake as soon as I began to doggy paddle towards them because the waves were so powerful that I could not make any progress forward. Also, I noticed that no one else was free-range swimming. Not only that, but people were crashing into me with their inner tubes which were being tossed around like pieces of driftwood on a roiling sea.
Another thing about Lithuanian water parks is that they don’t seem to have any lifeguards.
Eventually I was able to propel myself off a Polish family towards a side wall where I planned to cling for dear life, until I realized that the gap between the water and the top of the wall was so large I couldn’t reach it. Then I had no choice but to attach myself to the inner tube of a Lithuanian couple who were none too pleased about my breaking up their romantic interlude, until the P-Dawg arrived to rescue me.
Another way in which the Lithuanian water park differs from ones I’ve been to in America is you can get an enema. Or, you can sit in a cedarwood sauna and be gently lambasted with a wet birch broom, which is not only refreshing but also good for circulation. And on Friday nights starting in September, you can swim naked.
Overall, Lithuanian water parks are fun.
I don’t have any photos of the inside of the water park, but I do have this picture of my son riding a sculpture in front of it:
And of this performer in traditional garb talking on her cell phone:
And this one of the breakfast buffet:
Edited: Apparently there are mineral springs in Druskininkai! I just didn’t see them. (There’s a reason why this post is filed under “ignorima.”)
You can read my earlier posts about this trip here:
- Lithuania, Day One
- City Building 101: The Founding of Vilnius (Gediminas Castle)
- Lithuanian Vacation: What We Ate
- Artists Sleep on Mondays (Užupis District)
- Blood and Sunshine (The Vilnius TV Tower Memorial Site)
- Zip Line Trumps Castle (Trakai Castle and Tony Resort Park)
- Yes, Virginia. There is a Spiritual Vortex in Lithuania (Merkinės Pyramid)
- StalinWorld (Grutas Park)