The Beauty of Lithuania

I visited quite a few places: Vilnius, Trakai, Kaunas, Siauliai and the Hill of Crosses and snapped away in all of them.

Gedimino Street, Vilnius

The main street in Vilnius, Gedimino, on a cool and, thanks to its proximity to the river, foggy night.

Woman in armour

Here is the woman who greets you when you go to the Avilys restaurant on Gedimino street. How does she get in and out of that suit every night?

Vilnius

At the bottom of Gedimino is a large square with a magnificent church and a bell tower. It being December, there’s a Christmas tree next to it.

Vilnius Russian soldiers

Here are two Russian soldiers bravely standing on the green bridge over the river Neris. Many of their comrades, including a throng of Lenin and Stalin statues have been taken off to ‘Stalinland’ a historical themepark run by Lithuania’s richest mushroom grower. It is either a great day out for all the kids, or a commercial mockery of Lithuanian history – depending on who you listen to.

Click gruta park to find out more.

Church in Vilnius

There are quite a few Russian Orthodox churches in Vilnius and are in stark contrast to some awful concrete monstrosities which the Soviets have left all across Lithuania.

Vilnius street

The old town of Vilnius – full of traditional pubs (and some not so traditional ones) and nice shops selling amber and linen.

Vilnius poster

A cute poster saying something like, “Hey, we have the right to be treated properly as well.”

Vilnius train station

Vilnius railway station taken at about 8 in the morning. A very grand building which was surprising empty. Buying a ticket to Trakai was easy and not expensive. The trains themselves were fine too and even had places to hang bicycles.

Trakei lake

The walk from the station to the castle at Trakai was a delight. A calm winter’s morning, refreshingly cold and a wonderful lakeside frequented by ducks and the very occasional stroller.

Trakei castle

Here I am, outside the castle at Trakai, the one time capital of Lithuania and home of the Grand Duchy whose empire extended as far as the Black Sea -conveniently for him as he liked the slaves from that area and brought some back. Later they, the Karaites, gained their freedom and they settled. Amazingly, 500 years later, their descendants still live in the village.

Trakei restaurant

Here are Tatjana and Odeta from Sviesa publishing who took me to this café/restaurant. The style of the windows is typical of the Karaite people.

Lithuania telephone box

Lithuanian telephone boxes are wonderful. They look like they have a special cover on top which can be lifted off to reveal a turkey or a Christmas pudding.

Kaunas Church

Here is the big Church at the end of Kaunas’s main streets. It looks impressive from a distance…

Kaunas radio factory

The building on the hill was converted into a radio factory during the soviet occupation. It has since been reconverted to its original function – a church.

Kaunas hotel

Hotel Daniela, where I stayed in Kaunas, is owned by a guy who earned a lot of money in the NBA. He invested the money in this hotel (and other ventures) and the hotel is frequently occupied by teams of basketball players and has suitably long beds!

Hill of crosses

The slightly spooky Hill of Crosses. During Soviet times, the crosses were removed but people crept back in the middle of the night to put them back. The Soviets even built a canal around the hill – but that didn’t stop them. Today people come from all over the world to put up a cross…

Hill of crosses 2

..or two. You don’t think they’ve overdone it, do you?

There is so much more to see in Lithuania and I returned to Lithuania in June 2006 to enjoy the delights of a canoe trip in Eastern Lithuania and a taste of the Lithuanian coastline. Click on the links below to see more.

Lithuanian places

Lithuanian food

Jeremy’s work in Lithuania

Kayaking in Lithuania

Gruta Park

Palanga and Kleipeda

Jeremy’s Lithuanian Joke Book