The comment “I have just come back from Vilnius” elicited the response from my colleague “where the hell is that?”
I explained that it was the capital city of Lithuania, one of the Baltic republics lying north of Poland and to the west of Belarus and a wonderful little city.
It struck me that his response was the usual one I get when I mention I have been to Lithuania (currently clocked up 22 visits in 7 years) as no one seems to have heard of it and those that have, seem to have no idea where it is.
I find this quite strange as there are thousands of Lithuanians living and working in the UK , indeed, I was recently served in a coffee shop, an upmarket menswear shop and a bank by young Lithuanian women. All of them graduates and speaking impeccable English.
The city is relatively small in area and easy to navigate your way around by using trolley buses and local buses which are still relatively inexpensive even with recent fare hikes.
A note of warning however, give the taxis a wide birth unless you speak fluent Lithuanian or have someone with you who does. It would seem that many taxi drivers belong to the IATBTD (International Association of Thieving Bastard Taxi Drivers) and they are notorious for over charging for trips from the airport to the city centre.
But this should not put you off visiting such a wonderful city and such places as Cathedral Square, Hill of Three Crosses, The Castle Tower, The Bell Tower at the University and the University itself. And of course the “old town” and the independent republic of Uzupis which has its own constitution and contains the following “A cat is not obliged to love its master, but it must help him in difficult times.” – weird I know, but check out the rest of the constitution.
Lithuanians can be quite direct as both my colleague and I have found when lecturing to students but we have made some wonderful friends in Vilnius particularly amongst both staff and students at Vilnius and Mykolas Romeris Universities.
I feel that Vilnius should be a “must see” destination for those who enjoy city breaks but the tourist board don’t seem to be able to get their act together in order to market the city effectively. And in view of the economy having nose dived in the last few years they could do with the income from increased tourism.
Go and visit, you will not be disappointed……….it almost feels like a second home to me now as I have made so many enjoyable visits (22 to date).
Three quick tips:-
- Check out Bistro 18 for food
- Avoid the local delicacy of Ceppellini unless you have an iron constitution
- Eat the kibinai (see below) – they are Lithunias answer to the famous “Cornish pastie” and are delicious
The photographs are what I have taken during my visits at different times of the year…………..enjoy and do visit.