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Published: August 5th 2007
At the stop on the border between Latvia and Lithuania
Another old town, and to be honest by now we’re a little old town fatigued. Sort of like travelling in Asia and grimacing at the thought of seeing another temple, or Tibet and visiting yet another monastery - we’re just hankering for something different. So to be honest we didn’t spend too much time lingering around here. Instead our Lithuanian hosts Danielius and Grazina took us out to the countryside for a taste of something a little different.
We took a day trip out to nearby Kernave
which is the site of manmade hillforts that date from the Bronze Age until the end of the 14th Century. The Kernave Hillforts
are pretty mind boggling due to the fact that the hills were literally manmade. Large quantities of soil were reallocated to form hills; a place of elevation in an otherwise flat landscape, offering opportunities to defend the settlements that lay on the valleys below.
From here we headed on to Trakai
the ancient capital of Lithuania ... replete with the still standing and restored Trakai Castle
that sits on an island in the middle of a lake. Nowdays the castle is the site for photos for many
wedding parties, sailing buffs and visiting tourists, but is still a nice little escape from the city.
Back in the city we wandered through the streets of Vilnius
. We passed into colourful Uzupis
an area of artists and squatters that declared themselves a breakaway state in 1998. It’s one of those hippy utopian places presided over by the Angel of Uzupis
, said to have mysteriously ‘hatched’ from the egg statue that once stood there. One of the bordering bridges is covered with hundreds of locks in varying shapes and sizes. Tradition has it that newly married couples come to the bridge and attach a lock together to symbolise their bond. Divorced couples return with a saw to remove all evidence of their union!
We mostly just spent loads of time just hanging out with Danielius and Grazina, enjoying their company (and the local cocktail bar!) They’re about to start their own RTW trip and were full of questions, so we tried our best to impart the snippets of wisdom we’ve gained from our trip and experiences thus far. Little things like the handiness of a travel clothesline and a lock; and relayed all the scam stories
that we’ve heard and those that were tried on us. Grazina’s mum spoilt us with loads of traditional Lithuanian cooking, and what we enjoyed most; breakfasts with lashings of cheese!
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