Baroque Old Town

Trip Start May 01, 2009
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16
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Trip End May 22, 2009


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Flag of Lithuania  ,
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

     I have arrived in Vilnius, Lithuania since last night. Didn't really have too much time for sightseeing before sunset. So I checked into my hostel and had a nice chat with several fellow travellers from around the world and shared our travel experiences.

     Today I slept in til 9 am and I went to the Vilnius Cathedral. This cathedral is built back in 1600's but was partially destroyed during the Soviet occupation, now it is rebuilt after  independence. The outer wall of the cathedral is covered with beautiful figures, saints and statues. Inside the cathedral is got high dome and nice decorations.  There is a belfry right adjacent to the cathedral, the only standing building left from before the Soviet occupation. There used to be a castle, wall and watch tower but they were all gone at this point, just a broad boulevard extending from the front of the cathedral.

     Next I went to the National museum of Lithuania and saw lot of artifacts from pre-soviet period, some of the artifacts are dated back to the the 1400's. There are old coins, chain, farmng equipment all dated back to the middle ages. This the strongest period in Lithuanian history when the empire extended from Baltic to the Black sea.  I was running short on time so I quickly see the rest of the museum before I came back tot he city hall for the 3 hour walking tour of Vilnius. Our guide is affiliated with the Riga tour that he is also conducting the tour by taking us to some out lying area of Vilnius where tours don't normally go. We went to the Uzupis republic, which  is east of the river but still in the center of Vilnius. This little piece of Vilnius art colony declared independence in 1997 where a bunch a dreamers, artists, drunks and fun loving people used April fools day as the day of independence. Their republic is peace loving, carefree, anti war, fun lvoinmg, cat loving place. On April fools day, this republic has a huge celebration, there are even fake guards stamping passports, parades with their famous artist president. This republic has its own constitution which says everyone has the right to idle, cat has right to be cat, everyone has the right to love. Our tour guide took us to the hill and a forest where there is a beautiful view of the city fromt he top. Vilnius is such a city of contrast that from the hill we can see forest, parks, old red roofed old town, sky scrapers and TV tower. The guide even took us to old Soviet project, old wooden house distrct "Shanghai", new shopping area "Europa". There is a city prison and right next to its barbed wires there is kindergarden, preschool, parliment, houses, it it susch a contrast. 

     I finished my day tour by visiting the beautiful St. Anne's churchm a beautiful red brick Gothic style church. It is so pretty the Napoleon wanted to take it back to Paris when he invaded the area.

     Tonight I bought some Russian pelmeni, imitation crab meat and some fish. Since I cooked so much food, I shared my food with my new friends at the hostel. It is like the United Nations  all sitting at the same table. There are people from France, Nigeria, Portugal, Spain, Canada, Scotland, Australia, South Korea and Poland all sitting together and talking ( luckly in English ). It is so much fun to know so many people from around the world and all sharing the same passion, travel. I found out most of the traveller are going either north bound Vilnius to Tallinn or South bound Helsinki to Vilnius into Poland. There are a few of the travellers who have also been in Russia and Belarus and they all agree with me that it is difficult to get around and getting VISA for these countries. Couple travellers also went on the Trans-Mongolian railway across Siberia all the way to here . My next trip may be. Our friend from South Korea could't speak too much English but he is so nice that he made some Korean dumpling soup from scratch and shared with everybody. It was so interesting to hear their travel experience as well.

   
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