Welcome in LitouwenJune 20 in Lithuania ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C
Just some E scooting!
Just some E scooting!
Vrijstaat in Vilnius
Gestern sind wir in Vilnius angekommen und waren direkt total begeistert! ;)
Wir haben super lecker Litauisch gegessen und danach Greta und Donatas in deren Bar getroffen.
Heute haben wir die Stadt weiter erkundet, waren unter anderem in der „Uzupio res Republika“ (wie Christiania in DK) und in einigen Cafés.
Wirklich eine tolle Stadt! Wir haben uns verliebt 😍Read more
Die erste der 3 baltischen Hauptstädte steht heute auf dem Programm. Die Altstadt ist von barocken, sowie auch von modernen Gebäuden durchzogen. Besonders stolz sind die Litauer darauf, dass sie als erster der baltischen Staaten ihre Unabhängigkeit erklärt haben. Und man darf sie niemals als Osteuropäer bezeichnen ;).Read more
Wir haben Vilnius erreicht und werden uns also morgen auf die weite und direkt Reise nach Hamburg machen. Nebst Regen, Regen, Regen und schlechter Straßen gibt es heute nicht viel zu berichten.
Auch hier im Hostel möchte man uns das Rumgeballer schmackhaft machen...
Vilnius hebben we last minute toegevoegd aan onze reis en wat heeft het ons verrast! Het lijkt meer op een dorp dan een stad, we sliepen in een super leuk hostel dat een beetje in het bos leek te staan en we hadden een lekker zonnetje. We beklommen de 'three crosses hill' voor het uitzicht over de stad en wandelden langs het water en door alle gezellige straatjes. Lekker en goedkoop eten en, niet onbelangrijk voor jens, koffie ;) Oh en we gingen naar een kattencafé! Hier had ik de enorm misselijk makende busreis wel voor over..Read more
For me, one of the very best parts of travel are the unexpected things that can happen when you least expect them. I like to refer to these as the "serendipity of travel". One of these events happened today, but I guess I should first start at the beginning.
Late last night the final three members of our team finally arrived from Warsaw. They were not happy that they had spent an extra 7 hours at Warsaw airport, but I tried to make sure they knew they had not been forgotten by arranging for last night's restaurant to prepare three dinner boxes for them.
Now that all twenty riders are present and accounted for, the only thing still missing is Marg's luggage. We had all been hoping that it would turn up from the airport, but so far there is no sign of it. This means that she may have to buy another suitcase and a basic assortment of clothes. There is of course still some chance that it might be found before we leave Vilnius tomorrow morning.
After breakfast we met outside the hotel with Lucas. The plan was for him to take us on a walking tour of the city. He certainly knows a lot about Lithuanian history and he did his best to tell us most of it in the two hour walk. He would have made an excellent auctioneer.
After the heat of the previous few days we were glad that the day started overcast and relatively cool, however it did not stay that way. Once the early clouds cleared, the temperature steadily climbed back up again. It is beginning to look like all the cool weather gear we jammed into our cases will never see the light of day.
Since our team is now complete, we also took the opportunity to don our new Ghostrider shirts. I have to admit that they were so bright that I am sure they would have been visible from the moon. I suspect some of the locals thought that we were in town for the gay pride celebrations. We certainly got noticed.
It was only after the tour was over that the unexpected event happened. A small group of us were walking down a small back street of the town. We were interrupted by a distinctive Aussie voice "Hello Ghostriders". We all looked around to see where the voice had come from. We saw a neatly dressed couple looking at us.
"We have been reading all about you", the man added. He then proceeded to prove that he knew who we were by telling us that we were here to ride from Vilnius to Tallinn. I must have looked confused as he then went on to explain exactly what had happened.
Apparently he had seen our brightly dressed walking peloton earlier in the morning. He had been so impressed by our magnificent physiques than he went home to look us up on the Internet. It was then just sheer chance that we happened to walk down the very street where he lived.
He explained that he had Lithuanian parents, but had spent most of his early life in Australia, before returning to Lithuania with his wife some twenty years ago. He still followed Australian football and returned home almost every year. After a long chat we parted company, marvelling at how the whole event had taken place.
Our group then dispersed around the city. I wandered rather aimlessly,sometimes stopping to watch the locals. At one point I spent some time watching three well dressed (and very competent) girls playing string classics on two violins and a cello. Another highlight.
By mid afternoon I was feeling hungry and noticed a French restaurant called the Cafe Montmartre. I went in and started to enjoy a lovely Coq au Vin. It was at that point that a disaster occurred. Somehow the gravy from my plate leapt across and deposited itself right down the front of my florescent Ghostriders shirt. And it was the first time I had worn it ! Oh the embarrassment, oh the shame.
I quickly finished the rest of the lunch and tried to walk back to the hotel with my hands held in front of shirt. With the colour of these shirts it is not as if you can quietly merge into the crowd. I might as well have had a siren and searchlight on me. It was not my finest hour.
Once back at the hotel the famous lines of Shakespeare's Macbeth came back to me ("Out damned spot") as I worked furiously to restore the shirt to its former glory. I almost succeeded - the spot has now been reduced to a level that would only be visible to someone with at least some eyesight. It's now hanging up to dry.
Tomorrow we will be saying goodbye to Vilnius. I am sure that our memories of this place will be very positive, but the adventure must continue. After all, we came to cycle and that is exactly what we will begin tomorrow.Read more
"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!Read more
Travel is all about the people and the places, and Vilnius encapsulated this adage. Vilnius itself is another very picturesque Eastern European city, easily walkable and full of green parks, wide open squares and more churches than actively practicing christians, and as with every other Eastern European location, it also comes with a side of crazy. In Vilnius’s case this comes in the form of the Republic of Uzupis.
Uzupis is a self-declared, largely unrecognized, independent republic within the boundaries of Lithuania. Declared a micro-nation by a group of art student squatters in an abandoned neighbourhood near the local Art School on 1 April 1998, this community of bohemians may or may not be playing an extended April Fool’s Joke, but if it is, it’s an elaborate one. There is a President and a cabinet of ministers, and the parliament convenes each Monday at the “Barliament” to debate laws. A 42 point constitution is in place, which includes such edicts as ‘everyone has a right to have no rights’, ‘a cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need’ and ‘Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation’ (the full list is well worth reading and can be read on the official embassy site - http://uzhupisembassy.eu/uzhupis-constitution/). Currency has been created and circulated, and is the only currency in the world pegged to the price of a half litre of beer. A flag flies (four flags, actually, one for each season) and an army has been mobilised… with 11 troops in all. There is also the only known public statue of Frank Zapper, as the Republic’s Parton saint.
Having celebrated its 20th year of ‘independence’ this year, it is still going strong, so strong in fact that the Republic now boasts the most expensive real estate in the city (nothing can stop gentrification!). It’s a fantastic, whimsical neighbourhood and somewhere I was drawn back to continually during my stay. Some of you can expect to receive postcards from there, bought from the Foreign Minister’s shop. The Minister’s name is Mister Mister and he is a cat, who will viciously attack anyone who disturbs his peaceful slumber.
Vilnius also came with an added dose of crazy, in the form of Monika, who I met, along with her husband, Matis, on my first evening after they started chatting to me at a cool little basement bar, not far from the town hall square. The irrepressible Monika was larger than life and completely overshadowed her somewhat dour husband, extremely extrovert, always laughing and seemed to enjoy nothing more than making fun of the ‘ignorant’ Australians mumbling accent. She also happened to be a bit of a local personality, being the ex-host of the most popular youth radio show in Lithuania and the current star of the “number one” (only) animal themed show on Lithuanian TV. After taking me out for a great Lithuanian meal and many shots of vodka, they dropped me off with the strict instructions to be ready and waiting at 2pm the following day with swimmers and sturdy shoes. After exploring the city during the morning, I dutifully waited at the designated pick up point where Monika finally rolled up fashionably late in her BMW following her morning TV shoot and we headed off to Trakai, a national park not far from Vilnius where we went swimming and paddling on the beautifully clear lake, before being joined by Matis after he had finished work and went to a nearby forest to collect mushrooms and blueberries. Unfortunately, there had been no rain recently, so mushrooms were in very short supply, but the blueberries were plentiful and didn’t survive the walk out.
On the way back to Vilnius, they decided that there was one more activity for the night and so we pulled off to the largest corn maze I have ever seen. It was long closed, but Monika used her star power to convince the owner to let us in and so we stumbled through the 3km+ maze in complete darkness while chewing on the sweetest sweet corn I have ever eaten.
The next day followed a similar pattern, I sight saw until the mid afternoon, the highlight of which was the ex KGB building, which has been turned into yet another grim, but fascinating, museum telling the story of the various Lithuanian resistance movements throughout the 20th century. The building itself has been kept largely as is, including the basement prison, torture rooms and execution room, where an average of 50 people a week were executed by the KGB during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. the outside of the building is covered with engravings of those partisans killed by various Russian and German regimes providing a permanent and grim reminder to the tragic history of the Baltic states during the 20th century.
Following my sight seeing, I was once again picked up by Monika, this time for an excursion to Druskininkai, home of Grutas Park, an open-air sculpture park and museum housing old Soviet statues that were removed from cities and towns all over Lithuania. Larger than life statues of Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, and other Soviet figures loom over the park, creating an eerie atmosphere. Adding to the creepy feel of the park are the watch towers quietly playing Soviet music, tanks, and small indoor expositions. I had been promised a home cooked dinner from her grandmother (despite the lack of foraged ingredients), but something I quickly learned about Monika, was that she had a very poor sense of time and the 3 hour round trip meant that this promise was broken. Monika was heading to Kaunas early the next morning to host a car race and so it was a extremely grateful and appreciative farewell when we got back to Vilnius and she drove off leaving me reeling in her dust and once again in awe of the random and wonderful situations one can get into while travelling.Read more
...deren Opfer ich heute geworden bin.
Auf dem Weg vom Busbahnhof in Vilnius zu meiner Herberge, wollte ich mit meinem Phone ein Foto machen... und zack, sagte der Akku vom Phone Tschüss.
Kein Problem, auf so etwas ist Frau ja vorbereitet und hat ne Powerbank in der Tasche, nur wo ist das Ladekabel!? Die Powerbank kann noch so voll sein, ohne Ladekabel kommt der Strom nicht ins Phone. Nachdem ich meine Tasche auf den Kopf gestellt hatte und nirgends das bes..... Kabel zu finden war, war ich mir sicher, dass ich es heute morgen auf’s Bett geschmissen und dort vergessen hatte. Weiße Bettwäsche, weißes Ladekabel. Dann wird es in Litauen bleiben müssen.
Plan B – Frau hat ja noch ein Tablet dabei... Nur blöd, dass Ding benötigt ne W-LAN Verbindung, die ich normalerweise über mein Phone herstelle...merkt ihr was, wir drehen uns im Kreis.
Blöd dabei, alles was ich benötigte befand sich in diesem Phone. Es ist nicht nur meine Karte und führt mich durch den Dschungel fremder Städte, sondern in dem Teil befindet sich auch die Adresse meiner Herberge 😱. Warum soll man sich so etwas auch aufschreiben, ist ja „Oldschool“. Sowas geht doch alles online bzw. digital.
Da stand sie nun und nicht nur symbolisch im Regen, es regnete jetzt tatsächlich und ich hatte ja auch noch meinen gut sieben Kilo schweren Rucksack auf dem Buckel. Keine Adresse von meiner Herberge.... Kann als nicht mal nach dem Weg fragen. Ganz schön abhängig von der modernen Technik.
Plan C muss her, das Alphabet hat ja 26 Buchstaben...
Also entweder Ladekabel kaufen oder ein nettes Kaffee suchen mit WI-FI oder die SIM Karte aus dem Handy ins Tablet umbauen. Ersteres wäre mir lieber gewesen, da ich ja dann so oder so ein neues Ladekabel gebraucht hätte. Aber ein nettes Kaffee begegnete mir zuerst.
Also erstmal Kaffee bestellt, das bekomme ich zum Glück ohne Google Translater hin, der ist ja auch auf dem Phone. Dann im Rucksack nach nem „Werkzeug“ gesucht, um die SIM Karte umzubauen.....und was findet Frau in ihrem Rucksack....das Ladekabel 😃😃.
Es hing noch am Netzteil.
Die Moral von der Geschichte:
1. Alles dahin räumen, wo es hingehört!
2. Ich werde heute Abend Hardcopys von allen wichtigen Unterlagen machen und aufs Tablet packen, da stehen sie dann wenigstens offline zur Verfügung.
Oh sicher kann auch noch der worst case eintreten und auch das Tablet hat keinen Strom mehr. Aber so ein wenig Restrisiko macht es doch spannend.
Leben am Limit halt!Read more
You might also know this place by the following names:
University of Vilnius