Vilnius – Baltic Tour Kickoff
We have started our Baltic tour today (the 31st of January 2014) and people are questioning our judgement “In winter?”. Perpetual travelers can follow warm weather forecasts or they do some extreme sightseeing in -10C.
We thought that to enjoy some crisp white city images in Lithuania isn’t so bad. And truthfully, it was making the best of a business trip to Vilnius.
Vilnius is our first stop and will be followed by more capitals, namely Riga, Tallinn and Helsinki, before disembarking for Cologne. We haven’t been back home (to Germany where my parents live) for two years now. Dad has passed on his dentist’s practice last year and mum has only retired as a paediatrician of civil service in Cologne in autumn – perfect timing.
We have been in Vilnius in December 2012 when the city was covered in a thick layer of snow. Today, the view from Air Lituanica resembled that soft cotton snow. It was that thick in 2012.
Landing was shaky and strong winds rattling the airplane made me freak out (a wee bit). The more we fly, the more I am actually not looking forward to the next flight.
No. Wait. If I get a window seat, I think I will reconsider.
We will be couch surfing in Riga but we decided to rent in Vilnius. The apartment we got this time, is vast. And ‘lot’s of space’ is the only way to define it. The converted office is lacking charm, not at all like the one we rented in 2012 – overloaded in proper 90s style.
We rented both times through airbnb, which will get you a 25$ bonus on anything/anywhere you might rent, if you use our link.
This time, we pay about 15 Euros per person, which is about 45 Euros per night (we are travelling with our friend) but I wouldn’t call it a great deal. One neat thing was that (for 10 Euros) our host picked us up from Vilnius’ tiny but beautiful airport, which looks like an old train station or noblemen’s ballroom.
The location of the apartment is very close to old town, within walking distance to all sights. We are not planning to use buses or taxis at all (because they cheat) and save (on money but mainly typical taxi scam situations).
How to avoid rip off taxis and our crocodile-skin wallpaper apartment from 2012 – right here.
Our big living-office room. The lights are… well… bright. Our friend Monika is our PT Baltic Tour travel companion.
This looked a lot better in the pictures. Office romance in the bedroom.
Lithuanian interior decoration on a budget.
Our first impressions of Vilnius. Yes, it is cold but lively with many artistic and shabby vintage looking shops, bars and clubs to keep us cosy and warm.
Architecture is a clash of old neglected houses and newly renovated buildings.
Vilnius is tiny with about half a million inhabitants and has a pretty old town. After day two we felt like we had walked past most sights and shops numerous times.
Passing the creepy doll. Again.
There are some nice examples of art nouveau in Vilnius. This is one of them.
Shabby streets and houses make an interesting ambience. The graffiti is not as bad as in Athens and in many cases more controlled. Some are very funny and nice, in contrast to the smears below.
Walking around town was basically a quick hike to a restaurant to warm up. This is how we stumbled upon Submarine. It looked inviting with many people and candlelights, as we peeped through the big glass windows from outside.
The food was OK. In general Lithuania’s cuisine is rather on the greasy, heavy side. I hear it is not the food that brings people to Lithuania.
Location: Submarine Restaurant, Vilniaus 37, Vilnius.
For starters we had salad with avocado and blue cheese.
Macaroni with mussels and shrimp for Tomek (I ate all the mussels) and spaghetti with vegetables for me.
Meat lovers are easy to please in Vilnius (Monika raved about her serving) but there are always solid veggie choices on the menu.
Hot apple pie with strawberry sauce was the perfect winter dessert.
This was wasn’t great at all. A lot of dough stuffed with a bit of berry marmalade and vanilla ice cream.
I sveikata /ee svey kah tah/ is cheers in Lithuanian (and literally means to health)!
We had fun testing a few bars and beers. There are some good dark beers in Vilnius.
At the popular and ever filled up bar Būsi trečias we met promo pirates and won a wooden bracelet which was fun but did not convince us buy their booze. Maybe they should have done a tasting instead.
Location: Būsi trečias, Totorių gatvė 18, Vilnius.
Tomek on board.
I felt adventurous and tried a hot apple orange rum drink. Would I order it again? If I had to.
Saw a posh girls’ night out in the city when walking back.
BTW this is my new snow, water, rain, storm, wind, cold -proof outfit. I am proud to say that it only took me two days of complete indecisiveness to complete my winter-resist white-sausage look. The coat (which was sold out in black), is filled with down – coming out and giving little nasty jabs to my skin, apart from sticking to every other garment I wear.
Hello. I am not used to travel below freezing zero, so this is my outfit.
Tomek was dressed as usual. A real man, he never complains of the cold. Monika decided to wear what I have named a ‘tent’ and she has not complained of freezing temperatures much. ‘Tent’ has developed its own life shortly afterwards – documented on gazillion ‘Tent pictures’.
Some are more bold when it’s cold.
You probably didn’t expect this post to end at the loo! But before I forget, at Būsi trečias the man’s toilet was a squat and there are bins to dump used paper. Old pipes in old houses clog easily. Just thought to let you know.
Promise a conventional ending in my next post!