Down towards the borders with Poland and Belarus (both of which it has been part of at different times in its history) is the small town of Druskininkai with a population of 23,000. It has been a spa town since 1837 when czar Nicholas I of Russia gave it that status.
The first written mention of Druskininkai however dates back to 1636. The name of the town suggests that the local population collected precious minerals. In the late 18th century it was believed that minerals found in the waters of Druskininkai area produced health benefits and their usage in the medical treatment of asthma and other ailments began.
In the early 19th century Ignacy Fonberger, a professor at the University of Vilnius, analyzed the chemical composition of Druskininkai’s waters and showed that they contain large amounts of Calcium, Sodium, Potassium, Iodine, Bromine, Iron and Magnesium. He also promoted the town as a holiday resort for the population of Vilnius.
We walked along the Nemeunas river bank to a cafe where we enjoyed afternoon tea accompanied by hundreds of wasps crawling everywhere.
My natural reaction was to shoo them away but the locals said to leave them and nobody got stung. It cured me of any fear of wasps!
Then we headed back on our 140km journey back to Kaunas.