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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 54.9, 23.9
We got picked up at 10 after the supreme breakfast buffet and were soon on our way to Trakai Castle, about an hour and 15 minute ride from Kaunas. We switched up the passenger order so that Barb and Irena could spend more time together along with Diana and Rokas, our faithful and talented translator.
Soon we found ourselves headed toward an island castle, walking across boardwalk bridges and past numerous musical entertainers. The castle dated from the 14th century and was largely restored during several periods of the 20th century.
We gathered in the castle confines for an English guide and saw several interior rooms, a courtyard, and learned a lot about the impact of Vytautas on creating the kingdom of Lithuania and of various plots to prevent said kingdom from happening. We were glad to hear that the castle is listed as a UNESCO site as one of the few examples of a restored medieval castle. It was interesting to learn that the castle had an in-floor system of heating channels similar to what was used in Roman times. After about 2 hours at the castle, it was time to return to Kaunas and get ready for a
We took a couple hours to wander the shops of Kaunas and to prepare ourselves for a wonderful evening.
So, it was 6 o'clock and we gathered in the lobby. Our first visitors were the Nijoles. It had been two years since our last meeting. It was time for catch up and sharing of pictures. Absent a translator, Barb did quite well. Her hours and hours of studying Lithuanian were worth the effort. The rest of us sat in amazement at this heartfelt cultural exchange.
Shortly thereafter, the rest of the relatives arrived and it was down to the wine cellar that dated to the 13th century for some food, friends, and fun. It was a nice setting to reconnect and share stories. Thanks to our interpreters, Daiva and Rokas, who sat in the middle, a true stragery orchestrated by Rich, everyone was able to understand (for the most part) what was happening. Daiva and Rokas combined did their best to interpret a cacophony of sound and we were grateful for their steadfast effort. I'm sure they both had headaches by the end of the night. We sure did.
The connections were fun to see. Nijole the younger described Lithuanians as oak
trees: strong, hearty, and connected for 100 years and more.
Sadly, after a full night of learning, listening, and loving, it was time to retire, head to the 4th floor to do this blog, and head to bed for tomorrow's trip to Budapest.
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