Thursday, June 04, 2009

Lithuania: Baltic State #2

Next up: Lithuania. The moment we arrived in the capital, Villnius, we noticed that the people here were friendlier. We still got our share of no's, but with a nicer attitude. This city was definitely livelier than Riga. Schlepping from the bus station to our B&B with our backpacks, we were immediately enamored with the old town.

Villnius, the capital (day 4)
Our first day here was spent wandering aimlessly and exploring all the nooks and crannies of the old town and an inadvertent long trek through the newer part of city.

Joy enjoying an afternoon in a cafe on the bustling pedestrian street in old town. Villnius has the largest old town of the Baltics and its also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

First order of business: food, of course!

Cepallinai: the one dish that defines Lithuanian food.
A potato dumpling filled with minced meat and drenched in a creamy greasy bacon fat sauce. It'll clog those arteries in a second. Despite it's unhealthy factor, it was not the most tasty meal, but you can't go to Lithuania and not try it. I just couldn't finish it.

Overall, the food was hit and miss. Of course, the potato was prevalent, as was cream. But we got our good share of pastries and blynai (pancakes). And while the milkshake hunt was disastrous, we discovered the Lion McFlurry, which ranks up there among my favorite international McFlurries.

A painting of Kazakhstan in a gallery.

The art scene here is flourishing. We stumbled upon many unique galleries while wandering the streets in town. This artist actually had a Kazakhstan influence. Needless to say, this painting reminded me of my trip to Central Asia with its horses and yurts!

Tradition crepe with strawberry jam. One of our many yummy afternoon breaks at a cafe.

Joy approaching half of a Tony Soprano.
You just never know what you are going to find! But in fact, we walked in a little further past Tony and found...
Lithuanian folk dancing!
Adults, teens and children were all dancing joyously to live music. We watched until almost 10 pm. Of course it was still light outside.

Trakai (day 5)
On our second day in Lithuania, we decided to take a short 30 minute bus ride out of the city to Trakai, a smaller town with lots of nature and a landmark castle. Our bus was definitely "local" as was the stench on it. We don't know if it was only due to the portly Lithuanian lady with many bags, or also the bus driver. Thank goodness it was only 30 minutes!

Natural beauty of Lithuania.

We desperately wanted to go row boating, but unfortunately we chose the wrong day to visit Trakai. It was unexpectantly windy, freezing, gray and rainy and we were not wearing enough layers!

Trakai castle.
I'm smiling admist the chills and threatening sky.

Joy and me inside the castle.

Lithuanian lady and a typical wooden house.

It was nice to explore this smaller town and see the surrounding water and nature. Too bad the weather wasn't nicer so that we could go trekking through the national park and boating, but alas we cut the day short in favor of returning to our B&B for hot tea and warmer clothes.

Taking it easy in Villnius again (day 6)
On our third day, we finally took out the guide book to make sure we didn't miss any of the "must-see" sights in Villnius.

St. Ann's church.
We had to see this one because it is in both of the paintings we bought. It was actually right down the street from our B&B. There were several unique churches peppered throughout town.

Non-restored buildings.
Not everything was sparkling and quaint. You could clearly tell that certain parts have not been recovered since the Soviet era.

Joy and me at the top of the tower on the top of the hill overlooking Villnius.
From up here, we could hear folk music so we followed the sound to a folk festival in the park.

Lithuania was pretty incredible. We enjoyed the leisurely pace at which we explored Villnius. We wandered through streets and parks and enjoyed observing the locals. For the most part, the old town was clean and lively with a lot of wonderful architecture and character. And we got to chill in a cute cafe and read fun books. Not bad at all.

1 comment:

Sara said...

please tell me what a "lion" mcflurry is made of!!?