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Published: January 30th 2013
The next stop after Siauliai was Kaunas, some four hours by bus. I planned to visit Kaunas during the previous autumn visit, but changed my mind, and that was a correct decision, as I saw this time. I slept a good night at the hostel, checked out, and left my luggage at the bus station storeroom. It is located in a different building than the station itself.
When I first read about Kaunas, I did not consider it very promising, because the Russian Wikipedia article about it is rather short. However, expectations were much exceeded.
First, I saw the imposing Sv. Mykolo Arkangelo Church, reminding me of Beograd’s Hram Sv. Save (similarity in style and form, probably). I then immediately proceeded to the 1.6 km long Laisves Aleja where trees grow, pedestrians walk, benches are installed for rest, and cars are not allowed. I noticed a café with food photos and prices near its entrance, and decided to eat there on my way back. I also hoped to see a bookstore (I still cherished the idea of buying a textbook of Lithuanian language), and beheld it no sooner than this idea had crossed my mind. The bookstore had a
genuinely wide selection of books, I did find several language courses (two of them in English and one in Russian), but the price was too expensive; save for later.
Gee, just now I found a website where so many language textbooks can be procured from a Moscow seller, so I’ll soon be stocked up for life.
Laisves Aleja almost imperceptibly turns into Vilnius gatve which was the basic cause for my exceeded expectations. It was just the sort of an ancient pedestrian street with neat buildings which I like. Again, it was such a considerable area without cars, which I never saw anywhere else.
The first gem was the Petro ir Povilo arkikatedra bazilika of red stone. The central square (Rotuses aikste) was decorated for Christmas and New Year I guess, and there was a garlanded fir tree, music playing right from the middle of it; you could enter the tree where on its branches were hung many small pieces of different kinds of paper with people’s wishes inscribed in various languages; I wish I had a pen then!
I proceeded to the remains of Kaunas castle (Kauno pilis) and saw another stately church, then the
Vytauto Church (he was a Lithuanian Grand Duke), but, my buttocks frozen, resolved to go and warm myself in the bookstore and the café. I exchanged currency and bought William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and Irish tales.
My meal at the café comprised cream soup and cheese pancakes. Time was flying fast, I studied the map and spotted about another worthy church, reached by the funicular railway. The map said it was the biggest basilica church in the Baltic States (Christ’s Resurrection Churhc); why, didn’t it just reach up half the sky (I’m exaggerating, sure). I saw it previously from Laisves aleja but mistook it for a TV tower. The Zaliakalnis funicular took a couple of minutes, and the white giant crowned my visit.
The remaining hour and a half before the bus I spent in Acropolis shopping mall just doing nothing but going hither and thither. Just do visit this shopping mall, if you are in Kaunas.
The bus was not there at the specified time, so I got really nervous, sent an SMS message, receiving a reply that bus would depart at 15.30, and when it failed to arrive again, I had to phone
the bus attendant; she said they were already near.
Forty minutes after arrival to Riga, I departed to St. Petersburg.
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