Blessed Bishop

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June 25th 2017
Published: July 9th 2017
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Hello my fellow travellers!

This morning I took the train from Kaunas to Vilnius to check out the capital city of Lithuania. I met up with Roberta who stayed with me in Sweden last year together with Paulius and Ruta and I handed over the keys to their apartment to her as agreed upon beforehand. She told me that there would be a celebration at Šv. Stanislovo ir Šv. Vladislovo Arkikatedra Bazilika, the main cathedral of Vilnius, as a local Archbishop, Teofilius Matulionis, would be beatified which is a rather big deal.

Before I went there though I went to the church Šv. Konstantino ir Michailo Cerkvė further up the hill since I could see it from the point where me and Roberta met and it looked quite beautiful. Close to the church is a nice vantage point from the Tauro Kalnas, the mountain which this part of Vilnius is situated on. You can see quite far from there, the spot was recommended to me by Roberta who also recommended me to go to the Trys Kryžiai, one of Vilnius most iconic landmarks, three tall crosses situated on top of the mountain Bekešo Kalnas and overlooking the cathedral.

Before I came to the cathedral though I passed several gorgeous places, such as the two palaces Umiastovskių Rūmai and Tiškevičių Rūmai. I also visited the Choralinė Sinagoga from 1903 which is the only remaining Synagogue in Vilnius after World War II, there used to be 100 of them which tells you something of how brutal the treatment of the Jews in Lithuania was. It was currently undergoing some restorations so I couldn't really see it in all it's splendour.

I also visited the church Pranciskonu Bažnyčia, it's one of the oldest buildings in Vilnius, and while it's rather worn it's still quite beautiful. On the grounds of the church is also a beautiful monument to Józef Montwiłł, a Polish-Lithuanian banker and philanthropist who did a lot for the poor of the city.

From there I went to take a peek at Šv. Kotrynos Bažnyčia, a really beautiful 17th century church in striking colours, definitely one to check out when you're here.

With that I finally reached the cathedral where it was absolutely packed with people, I decided to join the celebration for a while but unfortunately it was so crowded, and not all that well organised, that I couldn't really get close enough to see anything despite subjecting my bag for inspection so I decided quite early on to leave and keep going for the Trys Kryžiai instead.

While being subjected to the security check in front of the cathedral I was asked by the staff if I had any weapons or bombs in my backpack and I told them that I had none except for my dirty underwear which might be considered a biological weapon. They laughed pretty hard at that.

Reaching the Three Crosses meant yet more climbing, something I really had enough of in Kaunas but I really wanted to reach it and at least the road there is beautiful even though it's steep, as I reached it and gazed over Vilnius, enjoying the good weather and the beautiful view I got a message from my host in Vilnius, Milda. She told me that her boyfriend didn't want me to stay there so she had to cancel. I had planned on staying there for three days. Now began a hustle to find some place else to stay.

I wrote a lot of different people, but being accepted for three nights on such a short notice at this time of year is pretty much impossible so I decided to split up my stay. While I was in Kaunas Paulius and Ruta had told me about this wonderful place called the Hill of Crosses outside of Siauliai so I decided to go there for a day as well and sent a request to a couple of people there as well as a few requests for shorter stays in Vilnius.

After a few hours of intense searching up on the hill I decided to make my way back down and use the rest of the day to see what more Vilnius had to offer. As I came back down I got a new message from Milda, she had made arrangements for a friend of hers, Livija, to come over since she had just returned from studying in Finland. With her friend there Milda's boyfriend had agreed to let me stay one night so that meant that I at least had the first night settle. After that I got a message from Vilija who offered to host me the second night in Vilnius and after that I got a positive answer from Ugna and Egidijus in Siauliai that I could stay there for a night as well. Things just fell into place very nicely!

With that out of the way I returned to the cathedral and took a closer look at it and I also went to Prezidentūra, the palace where the President of Latvia has his office. When I felt done with sightseeing I made my way over to the bus stop where I was going to catch the bus to Milda, while waiting for it I ate a light lunch while looking at Raduškevičių Rūmai, a beautiful palace from 1897 and the lovely church Šv. arkangelo Rapolo Bažnyčia.

After I finished my lunch I still had some time left before I had to catch the bus so I took a stroll over to the church Šv. Apaštalų Pilypo ir Jokūbo Bažnyčia which is truly gorgeous in it's striking red colours. It was meant to be demolished during the communist regimes but thankfully it was left standing, it's a bit derelict though as is the area around it as a result of this negligence.

With this final stroll completed I took a bus to the outskirts of the city where Milda lives in her parents house. Her parents were in Switzerland at the moment so she was babysitting her two little brothers. I met up with Milda and Livija at the bus stop, Milda speaks Danish and Livija Swedish so we communicated in a mix of Swedish and Danish before switching to English because while I understood both of them they didn't understand each other.

The evening was quite calm with some light general conversation while drinking some tea made from mint growing in Milda's garden. It was a pleasant evening but we all went to bed rather early, I guess it all felt a bit weird due to all the debacle we had in the beginning of the day with her boyfriend not accepting my stay. I hope that after all of this he will be more relaxed for her next guest.

Tomorrow I will move over to Vilija, who lives pretty much at the same place where I met Roberta earlier this morning. I won't go there until in the evening though which means I will need to lug my backpack around for yet another day, good thing I always pack light. My plan for tomorrow is to visit a museum dedicated to the victims of genocide which is, appropriately enough, housed in the building where KGB had their headquarters. I'm really looking forward to seeing it.

Until tomorrow I wish you all peace and happy travels!

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10th July 2017
Trys Kryžiai

Recommended place in Lithuania
I can recommend a visit to Hill of Crosses in Lithuania. We were there 10 years ago and it was very interesting. We made a blog from there (blog entry number 160216) and you can read it and see our pictures. /Ake
10th July 2017
Trys Kryžiai

Recommended place in Lithuania
The Hills of Crosses was indeed amazing and so was Siauliai nearby, I should be posting about my time there tomorrow. :) Thank you for the tip. :)

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