Pandemic travels: Vilnius, Lithuania; November 2021

Cathedral Square

Vilnius city centre is a UNESCO world heritage site – the medieval Old Town having survived intact for centuries. I visited the big tourist attractions on my first day – the Gediminas Castle Tower overlooking the city; Cathedral Square – site of the magnificent Catholic Cathedral; the Gates of Dawn; the presidential palace; the Orthodox Church of Saint Parasceve. I also visited the breakaway ‘republic’ of Uzupis. Like Christiania in Copenhagen this is a self-declared independent Republic in Vilnius, established by artists. It abides by all Lithuanian laws but has its own constitution and used to have an unarmed army of 11. I smelt herb walking the streets here. It’s a bohemian and artistic neighbourhood, that offers a great atmosphere.

The Angel of Uzupis

That evening I dined at Snekutis Bar. Snekutis is a little bit grungy and alternative but came recommended, selling plain Lithuanian dishes. A pint, a pea soup, and meat pancakes for dinner cost me 10.50eur. I was served by a friendly gentleman with excellent English and distinctive face tattoos. I never thought I would find a country that would rival Ireland for its rich and profound relationship with potatoes. Lithuania is that country. The pea soup had generous helpings of bacon and spuds.

The Three Crosses

This trip was only a brief visit. I was flying home at 9pm on Monday evening, after only two nights. That last day was well spent. I climbed the unpaved Hill of the Three Crosses to reach the monument marking the arrival of Christianity to this land. I visited the Bernardine cemetery in Uzupis – one of the country’s oldest. Finally I went to the Museum of Illusions where the guide praised the virtue of Irish whiskey – Paddy in particular.

The Gates of Dawn

After a final meal in Snekutis, I boarded the bus to the airport. To my joy the flight fairy had sprinkled her fairy dust on the flight home. I never pay for a seat when booking flights. You get a seat as part of your ticket. I can survive the middle seat which Ryanair always assigns to people who refuse to pay for a window view. The aisle and the window seat were empty on this flight.

I bid farewell to the Baltics. Vilnius had been a long time coming, but had been worth the wait.

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