25 June 2011

Home Made Vodka [Lithuania]

Being back in the EU was a bit of a shock. The main station was clean and filled with nice looking, modern trains. People could speak English. The streets were clean. The public transport ran on time. Things seem to make sense... I am not sure that I liked it.

Don't get me wrong, Lithuania is a cool country. Unfortunately I could not do a lot of exploring as I was on a bit of a time restriction. My Russian Visa had actually already started... and the visa only gave me 30 days to get across the whole of Siberia! While that can be done in just under a week, I would much rather take my time. But what I did see - Vilnius (the capital) and Trakai, was definitely worth checking out.

I was staying in Vilnius with Violeta and Julija, two fun, interesting, amazing... pretty much freakin' awesome Lithuanian girls. Their flat was located in a building with a few other apartments, all occupied by Violetas family. They were all such friendly and inviting people, feeding me and making me drink all this home-made vodka (OK, I did not need a whole lot of convincing...). They also live with Julija's dog Wunjo, who I am sure is the most awesome dog in Lithuania.

Vilnius only has a population of about 500,000. And I think you can really tell; it is kind of cosy, more like a small village. The old town is just beautiful. I'm not going to bore you with the details of all the sights... But one I will mention is a tile located in the ground outside the main cathedral (conveniently named Vilnius Cathedral). This tile shows where the last person stood in a line, all holding hands from Vilnius to Tallinn, a distance of about 600kms. The demonstration was to show their desire for independence from the Soviet Union. And it worked! Lithuania has been free and independent from the Russians since 1990.

One other cool thing worth mentioning is the Uzupis Republic - a suburb of Vilnius that has declared itself an independent republic. It is all a bit tongue-in-cheek, but they have their own flag, currency, president, constitution, and army. The suburb is filled with art and sculpture, plenty of cafes and bars, all with a very bohemian feel.

Violetas most-awesome cousin took us all on a trip out to Trakai, a quaint little town not far from Vilnius... with a CASTLE. It was pretty awesome. It is also home to the Kibinai, a pastry filled with minced meat and sauce - very similar to a Cornish Pasty, but they taste a whole lot better... just my opinion...

So that wraps up my few days in Lithuania. Again, disappointed I couldn't stay longer, but really glad I got to experience it. Next stop - Riga, Latvia!

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