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Published: August 6th 2007
This tower is part of the Upper Castle that dates back to the 13th century.
We had four days off from work and decided to go on a trip to one of the lesser known neighbouring countries to Sweden, namely Lithuania
. Lithuania is the southernmost of the three Baltic countries. Up until 1990 Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union. The formerly strong ties to Russia is something you can notice still today when you visit Lithuania. For instance the hotel we stayed in has furniture that looked like it came from a storage house in Novosibirsk, the supermarkets sell several different brands of Russian vodka but only rarely Western ones, in the restaurants you can buy Georgian (Georgia in Caucasus, not the US) mineral water but not Evian. Don't get me wrong. We absolutely love this. We both have a soft spot for Eastern Europe and the way things differ here from Western Europe. We like it so much that we one day will spend an entire vacation travelling around in the countries east of the former iron curtain. But now we only had four days and we tried to make the most out of them.
We stayed in and spent most time in the capital Vilnius
. Vilnius has been an important city in
The free standing church tower of Vilnius' Cathedral
this area at least from the 16th century. Vilnius has a very nice Old Town which takes up most of the heart of the city. The houses in the Old Town are mostly well tended and in several places we have seen that houses and streets are undergoing extensive restorations. However, in the rest of the city many houses are in a sad condition. We guess that under the Soviet days restoration of houses was not high on the agenda and after the independence there simply hasn't been enough money around to catch up with the maintenance. It's sad because the houses looked really good once but often the houses are so run down that they eventually will be torn down and replaced altogether simply because repairs won't be possible.
The note noteworthy tourist attraction in Vilnius is the old town. Just strolling around is a great way to spend a few days. The actual attractions are not very spectacular though. There are many churches in central Vilnius and most of them are nice to visit. There is a castle dating back to the 13th century, though apart from a defence tower it's mostly in ruins.
The interior of Dominican Church is breathtaking.
attractions are quite similar to what you would find in hundreds of other European cities. It's nice but not something we are going to write long stories about here. You'd be bored! But in Vilnius there are also a few attractions that are a bit odd and we believe they are more interesting to read about. None of these other attractions will ever end up on any list of "100 things you must see before you die" but they served a purpose by making our stay in Vilnius more fun.
The first of these is Uzupis
. Uzupis is a neighbourhood in Vilnius that has become popular among artists, hippies and other similar people. To make it official that Uzupis is different from other parts of the town the inhabitants have even declared independence from Lithuania and they have their own version of a constitution. It's a nice neighbourhood and the feel we had walking around there was that it was relaxed and carefree.
1 Everyone has the right to live by the River Vilnele and the River Vilnele has the right to flow by everyone
2 Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and
The Missionaries Monastery seems to be closed down
a tiled roof
3 Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation
4 Everyone has the right to make mistakes
5 Everyone has the right to be unique
6 Everyone has the right to love
7 Everyone has the right not to be loved, but not necessarily
8 Everyone has the right to be undistinguished and unknown
9 Everyone has the right to idle
10 Everyone has the right to love and take care of the cat
11 Everyone has the right to look after the dog until one of them dies
12 A dog has the right to be a dog
13 A cat is not obliged to love its owner but must help in time of need
14 Sometimes everyone has the right to be unaware of their duties
15 Everyone has the right to be in doubt, but this is not an obligation
16 Everyone has the right to be happy
17 Everyone has the right to be unhappy
18 Everyone has the right to be silent
19 Everyone has the right to have faith
20 No one has the right to violence
21 Everyone has the right to appreciate their unimportance
House in central Vilnius
This is a good example of a house in central Vilnius in good repair
No one has the right to have a design on eternity
23 Everyone has the right to understand
24 Everyone has the right to understand nothing
25 Everyone has the right to be of any nationality
26 Everyone has the right to celebrate or not celebrate their birthday
27 Everyone shall remember their name
28 Everyone may share what they possess
29 No one can share what they do not possess
30 Everyone has the right to have brothers, sisters and parents
31 Everyone may be independent
32 Everyone is responsible for their freedom
33 Everyone has the right to cry
34 Everyone has the right to be misunderstood
35 No one has the right to make another person guilty
36 Everyone has the right to be individual
37 Everyone has the right to have no rights
38 Everyone has the right to not to be afraid
39 Do not defeat
40 Do not fight back
41 Do not surrender
The people of Uzupis are behind the second of the somewhat odd attractions in Vilnius - the Zappa monument. When we visited the monument we thought it looked strange. It turned out that there was an important piece missing
House in central Vilnius
This is a good example of a house in good repair in central Vilnius
on the monument - the head! Someone had decapitated the monument so all we saw was a steel rod with the name Frank Zappa on it.
The third thing we saw when we visited Vilnius that made the visit special for us was the Zaliasis Bridge. The bridge has four statues of either happy workers or happy proud soldiers. These statues were clearly erected during the communist times because the style is unmistakably the one that was popular in countries where communists ruled and where the main purpose of the statues was to glorify the communist idea.
Half a day we also spent in Trakai - a town less than an hours drive from Vilnius. There we visited the Trakai Castle and enjoyed the good weather together with several hundreds of Lithuanians. The historical area of Trakai is very popular with the locals.
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