Diary from Lithuania – Day three

4th January 2015

Today we woke up earlier than yesterday, covered us better because it should had snowed during the day, and got around in the right part going out from the Gate of Dawn. There there was a supermarket actually the first we saw since we came here! In cities such Rome, supermarkets are a habit, but big shops are not here the same, think about that until today we wondered of what Lithuanians live. Even today we went around thinking that Vilnius is much depressing but then I started to think that some of the reasons because it is actually so are: the way most of the people dresses, especially in an old-style way, mostly in black; I had still not seen young people; everything looks out so ruined, walls are cracked and busses are rally old; supermarkets are not many because of the cultural/social/economic heredity Soviet Union left The half opened market beside the supermarket Maxima had different things to buy but in particular meat, bread and vegetables. People was not a lot, but prices were very convenient for us Italians. A nice place to go to could also be the herbs and spices shop just before the entrance of the market.

Lately we took the trolleybus, a very old one but with wi-fi and a screen to pay with the card and we stopped just along the river bank in front of the old tower of the city, placed on a hill reachable through a steep way.

The tower hosts an exhibition on the past of Vilnius and of the tower, which was interesting! Once down, with the snow falling down, we visited the National Museum of Lithuania, where there where so many things exposed, though a little disordered.

An interesting thing was this map together with the photo aside. During 1991, before the second act of Independence of the country, people stood on a highway that goes from Estonia, goes through Letland and reaches Lithuania, in order to achieve independence! A good organization, don’t you think?

We had lunch again at KFC and than we came back, the snow was a lot then and we saw some central streets whitewashed and then returned to the hotel. I rested a little there, the cold really makes you feel powerless!

We went on a walk and ate at this place, the only one opened yesterday night though it was a little touristic, but still very good and cheap. One of the dishes I took was some traditional meatballs with a sort of sour-cream made butter sauce.

Maybe it was because it snowed or because we had seen the city a lot, but I changed my opinion on this city, and now I think it is not longer a dark, desert and depressing town. Yes, being honest I have to say that I still think it is a little depressing, but you should see especially the history of a city and see how much it can learn you. And I swear that I’ve learned more in this three days of journey that I haven’t collapsing on twenty pages of my school history book. See you tomorrow for some more!

Diary from Lithuania – Day two

3rd January 2015

As we were in the 2nd half of 1900’s

Good morning! I am writing from the right side bed of this room. The hotel is a renovated monastery in the Old City of Vilnius, really characteristic I would say! We had breakfast choosing between both sweet and salt things and this was my first dish here. I love those wurstel with potatoes and that pretty sour yoghurt.

Then we went walking around and we started to freeze because not only it was cold but even windy. We started exploring the Aušros Vartų gatvė, the way where most of the souvenirs shops are placed and that takes on the right side to a square where there was also a little Christmas market, and to the most popular streets, and on the left side to the Gate of Dawn and to a part of the city’s walls.

Still you can feel the effects caused by the Sovietic Union after the Second World War. Lithuania was freed by Germans but then Socialism was imposed to the country, until URSS broke in 1990. Lithuania after have had already declared his independence in 1918, did it again in 1991. But Lithuania still hasn’t a well based economy, shops are not common to see if you go wherever in the city, and there is not that commercial spirit you can recognize in the rest of central Europe.

Everything is much cheaper than it is in Italy and Lithuania dopted the Euro just the 1st January of this year, so it’s even easier for us to understand the big difference with the Italian and the Lithuanian costs.

So yesterday as I started to say, we walked a lot and saw some churches around the hotel. The first church we visited was a catholic one, St.Theresa, where a mass in Polish was holding.

The Russian Church of the Holy Spirit, was instead, as you can guess, an Orthodox church and full of icons made of gold, and light colors as  as green on the walls. In this church there were exposed the relics of three Catholic martyrs of the Middle Age.The 5,6% is formed by Russians, and the 6% by Poles, for this Vilnius is a religious multicultural  city with strong Chatolics and orthodoxes.

After this, we visited the sanctuary placed on the Gate of Dawn, where is exposed an effigy of the Virgin Mary, reached by many persons and pilgrims. There I had a bad feeling: there were some stairs, hard to go on because steep and high, and people sat on their knees already on the stairs. The air smelled so much, and air was not changed.

It was interesting to see how the buildings vary completely in the two parts of the city, the most internal one and the one outside the walls.

Outside the walls we walked to the old tower of the city walls and after along walk we discovered in fact that it was the longest way we could have taken to get to the Cathedral! We arrived in a central part of the city, where the Cathedral and Palace of the Grand Dukes and many embassies are. It was interesting to see how the buildings vary completely in the two parts of the city, the most internal one and the one outside the walls.

The cathedral was quite poor inside, with just some canvas on the walls. After that we had lunch by KFC in the square and we gave rest to our feet!

Then we returned to the hotel to rest and stayed there until it was time to have dinner. We decided to eat at this traditional Lithuanian restaurant that had a very good choice of dishes, the waiters were really kind and the goers were both Lithuanian and Lithuanian. I warmly recommend this restaurant if you are thinking on going to Vilnius. I’ll write you more tomorrow, thank you for follow!