Friday, 7 August 2015

Stop 11: Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius apparently has the largest baroque 'old town' in Europe. Despite that, it's compact and very easy to walk it, especially when you're staying right in the thick of the 'action'.  It took us about 20 minutes to walk end to end (N-S) and half of that to cross it.

Once we had got out of Warsaw and avoided travelling to Belorus (see the previous blog), and slowly crawled through the obligatory road works ("welcome to Europe" said the waiter), we again made it into a new city just as the rain was threatening to start again ... there were huge puddles everywhere.  Maybe because it was a smaller city, driving in was relatively straight forward, and we looped through some inner old city streets and emerged through an archway into the centre of tourist territory, on the street where we were staying ... just north of the 'Gates of Dawn'.



The apartment is in a small courtyard complex, up one level of wooden steps. A narrow balcony runs around the courtyard on each level. There's a lovely and 'romantic' bedroom, a small sitting area/kitchen and a small bathroom. Parking was very easy ... in the grounds of the monastery behind the apartment, and through the Basilian Gates. In fact, with the slope of the land, we could look out our bedroom window level with the flower garden of the monastery, and across, almost, to where the car was parked.


We spent the next three days very pleasantly wandering around the old city. On the first day, we took an audio-tour of the old city (from the Tourist Office) ... which took us five hours, including a lunch stop. This took us all over the old city, including to a lookout above the old city:


to the Gediminas Hill tower (via a funicular):



to the Jewish quarter, and to the artists' quarter, Užipis, across a small river.... amongst other places.




Another day we dropped into a couple of churches:



 and went on a boat ride on the main river, the Neris (which was pleasant but a bit pointless as the boat simply (and without commentary) battles upstream against the current, turns and comes back again).


But some interesting sculptures hanging under the bridges:


I also met up with Antanas Fokas, the leader of local folk group Sutaras - and did an interview with him in a street cafe.

(this isn't him ... it's on the Musicians Club)
Later that day, we also met and had dinner with Jeanette Stovel, Canadian Chargé d'Affairs, and sister of our friend Krista.

There were some tourists round, but they were largely located in the main shopping street, and Vilnius didn't seem over-run by them/us:


We had some great meals, and just enjoyed hanging out in a relaxed and relaxing city:





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