Lithuania

Lithuania

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  • Day113

    It's KAUNASTIC!

    Thats what they say and it makes complete sense to me now. To find out for yourselves, you will just have to come here! A fab city with lots to do for tourists but very few tourists around.. perfect :)

    We are staying in the suburbs in a lovely cottage in someones garden. Stuart has won a fan already in the guise of the owners dog who is waiting for him each time he steps out of the door. Kaunas acted as the capital of Lithuania between 1920 and 1939. It is our first taste of Lithuania and is home to a castle, a very successful basketball team, a huge mix of architecture and a devil museum, amongst many other things.

    After a round the houses bus trip on a mini bus we arrived across the beautiful river Nemunas straight into the centre of the old town, past the Perkunas "Thunder" house, an impressive gothic building housing a jesuit museum. We found our way to the Baroque style Town Hall in a very attractive square to collect a mound of maps from the tourist information.

    Heading first to the Cathedral we were treated to lovely singing from the balcony accompanied by the organist and quickly realised that we were inadvertent guests at a wedding! Don't worry we weren't the only tourists there, but whilst Stuart scarpered I lingered a while to see the dress of course! She was one of three brides that we saw in Kaunas this morning, the weather was lovely - and not too warm! - 23 degrees, obviously a perfect day for a wedding!

    Moving through old town streets mooching for souvenirs, we walked the length of "Laisves Aleja" (Freedom Avenue). It is reported to be the longest pedestrian street in Europe, so not surprisingly half way along we needed to stop for lunch. Our intended lunch stop was quite a distance away so we settled for Mexican. And boy it didn't disappoint! Food was delicious and Stuart had a skull drink. A cocktail in a skull shaped glass with food on cocktail sticks and a flaming sambuca in the centre.. this boy sure knows how to choose a drink! I meanwhile sampled a Lithuanian beer which apparently is the best in the World. Now where have I heard that before....

    On a majorly full stomach, and having been to quite a few historical museums recently, we decided to visit the Devils Museum. Basically it is collection of 2000+ devil statues housed in the house of the late collector, an artist named Antanas Zmuidzinavicius. Completely random but a bit of fun and interesting to read about the folklore from Lithuania and other countries regarding the devil, be he stupid or scary.

    To Stuart's delight we found another funicular, this one being the oldest in Lithuania Unlike the one in Prague - where we had to queue for 20 minutes - there was only one other guy riding it.
    At the top of the funicular we visited Christ's Resurrection Church. It was completed in 2005 and apparently is seen as an eyesore by some. It cost us 1.2 euro to walk the 165 steps to the top where you have great views of the city.

    Kaunas is also full of street art that they are obviously very proud of, so much so that they are all marked on the tourist maps.. We passed a lot on our travels, including an old man the size of a building with a pipe full of stars, a multi coloured shack and a space hedgehog.

    According to one of my many guides, we visited/saw 10 of the 15 top things to do in Kaunas today so all in all a good days sightseeing!
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  • Day115

    "According to a widespread popular belief, the word Lietuva (Lithuania in Lithuanian) originated from the Lithuanian words lyti (to rain) and lietus (rain)" (thanks Wikipedia). This was also one of the first things that our guide on the free (but not free) tour told us.

    And rain it did today! Unfortunately for me it didn't seem to lower the temperature at all...

    It rained about half way through the tour and it is possible that that, along with tiredness and having seen so much dampened my view of Vilnius. It has all the factors: Old Town; Palace; Cathedral; Castle ruins; Museums etc, but it didn't have the same feeling as we had in Kaunas.

    We did a free (but not free) tour as I had - perhaps an omen to the day - not made any plans as to what to do/see in Vilnius.

    Possibly the highlight of the day for me was entering the "independent state" of Uzupis. I write in quotations as it is a self-declared independence. When you cross the bridge it has a road sign showing that you should smile on arrival, as Stuart is modelling so wonderfully.

    It is home to many "artists, Bohemians and yuppies" according to our Rough Guide. These include the former Mayor of Vilnius who is now a part time uber driver. He is known for a video of a stunt showing him drive over a car parked illegally in a bus lane. Highlighting Vilnius non-cycle friendly nature. You can copy and paste this link to see him in action! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-fWN0FmcIU

    Uzupis also has a square dedicated to Tibet - which caused issues with Chinese relations - a fountain that disperses beer once a year; a statue showing Jesus as the worlds first backpacker and it even has its own constitution. This 41 point constitution is inscribed in various languages on multiple metal plaques. If you excuse me in the reflection, you can read these in the photos. Our favourites were numbers 3 and 12.

    After the tour was finished we headed to try some Lithuanian food - finally!

    I have the traditional potato dumplings and Stuart had potato pancakes. These were very tasty and cheap so extra bonus! After the meal we walked to find the statue to Tony Soprano at the train station. Decided to check it out as Stuart loves the Sopranos. It is huge and completely weird but helped us walk off some of our potato calories :)

    Onward to the next capital city tomorrow - Riga!
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  • Day114

    So after a quiet Saturday in Kaunas, we found out where all the people are!

    Trakai was mobbed! Appeared mostly to be locals and the lady at the Tourist Information explained that there was a concert and a rowing competition due to be taking place. Though we didn't see any of these we did see beautiful lakes, an Island Castle and some colourful houses.

    Our main aim was to visit the Trakai Island Castle, set in the middle of the lake. It is a red brick structure that was renovated at the start of the 20th century. Stuart's highlight was getting to try out shooting a crossbow.. luckily not at me.

    We put each other in the stocks and learnt about St Florian, the patron saint of firefighters. After the castle we wandered along the lake and I dipped my feet in the lovely cold water. Although it was only ! 23 degrees I found it pretty warm so the lake was lovely and refreshing.

    The houses in Trakai were all different colours and made for a lovely walk around. We found a lovely gift shop and managed to finally start picking up a few gifts/souvenirs.

    I had read on the map that there were 35 x 5m angel statues on a hill just outside of Trakai so we went there on our drive out. It is an odd collection, and we only stayed 5 minutes as it was swarming with flies and the effect is spoiled with a larger collection of electricity pylons in the background.

    Apart from the slightly weird angel collection and the cars strewn on all the available pavements, Trakai is a lovely spot as you can see from my amateur photos!
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  • Day10

    Today we woke up to drizzly rain. First day on the cycing tour was good. Did a walking tour of 700 year old Vilnius in the drizzly rain. Very pretty and old. We weren't looking forward to riding in it but we then got on a bus and drove a bit to see a castle at Trakai and have lunch. Best castle set up I've seen so far. All the rooms were open with great displays of normal castle life for the Duke.
    Then the rain stopped and sun came out as we got ready for the ride. Rode 27 k along a country road, then back on the bus to Kaunus. Very nice, a few rolling hills but easy enough. Just came back from a lovely Lithuanian meal in a great little restaurant. They seem to eat late here or maybe just our guide does ??
    There is 14 of us- all Australians!! A great bunch - lots of laughs.
    4 couples from a bike group in Melbourne, 2 from Sydney, 2 from Coffs Harbour, Nicole my room mate from Brisbane and me.
    Was great to be back on the bike 😊😊
    Good news- Nicole got her luggage just before we left Vilnius
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  • Day24

    Just back from a good walk exploring the old part of Vilnius across the river. Lots of decaying buildings and renovation. Sipping a well earned beer ahead of a dine around meal back in the old town. Room has a lovely view.

  • Day24

    Another "independent" area, this time in Vilnius. Originally artists, bohemians, etc. It has it own constitution, translated into 20 languages so far. One example of local artist's work is Jesus backpacker. The angel on the orb is calling all to Uzipis and to it's type of freedom. They no longer have an army (it had 11 soldiers), and their air force was kites.

  • Day24

    A view over the old town. City hall. Lithuania was late later n conversion to Christianity. Signs of paganism still remain, such as the goddess of hunting an forests riding on a bear and sun symbols on crosses.

  • Day25

    First capital of Lithuania and an archaeological site. 5 mounds/hill forts surrounded by a village. There is a view from the top of the highest mound and from down by the river contemplating no need for a stairmaster today. There is also the oldest paved road in Lithuania from the middle of the first millenium. The area was swamp and bog, so the logs laid down for crossing are preserved. Also the have built a reconstruction of the village from the 13th/14th century. Note the oven for n the house. The is new to me.Read more

  • Day26

    Anothger former capital of Lithuania, this time a restored castle. Seen from across the lake, the outer bailey, drawbridge and portculis to the keep over the space between the wall of the outer bailey and the keep, the courtyard of the keep and a formal dining room.

  • Day29

    This is just what it says--a hill covered with hundreds of thousands of crosses. This is a major pilgrimage site and political symbol of resistance during the Soviet era. I was given a cross of oilve wood from the Holy Land. I carried it with me, choosing to leave here. It is now at the foot of the hill, east side facing the sunrise. Not only are there crosses, there ius some pretty amazing woodwork, too.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Lithuania, Litauen, Lithuania, Litaue, Lituwenia, ሊቱዌኒያ, Lituania, ليتوانيا, ܠܬܘܢܝܐ, Litva, Літва, Литва, Lituyani, লিথুয়েনিয়া, ལི་ཐུ་ཨེ་ནི་ཡ།, Litvanija, Lituània, Lituanya, Lëtewskô, Lituania nutome, Λιθουανία, Litovujo, Leedu, لیتوانیا, Lituaanii, Liettua, Litava, Lituanie, Litouwen, An Liotuáin, લિથુઆનિયા, Lituweniya, ליטא, लिथुआनिया, Lityani, Litvánia, Լիտվա, Litháen, リトアニア共和国, ლიტვა, Litwania, Litaueni, លីទុយអានី, ಲಿಥುವೇನಿಯಾ, 리투아니아, Littaue, لیتوانایا, Lithouani, Lisuwenya, Litouwe, Litwani, ລິເທີເນຍ, Lietuva, Litoania, Litovia, Литванија, ലിത്വാനിയ, Litwanja, လစ်သူယေးနီးယား, Lituantlān‎, लिथुअनिया, Lithuanie, Litvu, ଲିଥାଆନିଆ, Litaun, Litwa, Laītawa, Lituânia, Lituwaniya, Lituaniya, Литуания, लिथ्वानिया, Lituana, Lituanïi, ලිතුවේනියාව, Lituweeniya, Lituani, லிதுவேனியா, లిథుయేనియా, Lituánia, ลิทัวเนีย, Lifiuenia, Litvanya, Litua, لتھوانیا, Łituania, Li-tu-a-ni-a (Lithuania), Litown, Lietuvän, Litwaneye, ליטע, Orílẹ́ède Lituania, 立陶宛, i-Lithuania

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