Vilnius-The day that felt like a week

Trip Start May 23, 2007
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Trip End Aug 02, 2007


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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lithuania!
So we are officially in Lithuania! So far I really haven't seen a lot of the country except our hotel. The hotel is amazing. It is so much nicer than I had expected. I got the room assignment with Jessica, from Olivet, and Tamarine from Messiah/Nassau. I am probably the closest with Jess so it's nice that she is one of my first roomates, we have different roomates at every stop. After putting our stuff in our room we had an informal meeting in the classroom where we went over all of the expectations for IBI. We were all so exhausted that after a 15 minute meeting we all just got on our laptops and sent out we're not dead emails and then hit the showers before crawling into bed. I would love to say that I slept like a rock but as many of you know that is rarely true. My body was actually so confused that after an hour or so I woke up ready to do whatever I needed to do next. Then i realized how early it was and that not only was there a loud group out in the hall but also that both of my roomates were snoring. So I just grabbed ear plugs, lifesaver!, and laid back down. Although it wasn't the best sleep it still worked. The next morning we all had breakfast at 8am/12am your time, and then we had our first class. I would like to say that our classes are going to be easy but Dr. LaFrance proved my worst fears valid. Not only does he call on you for random questions but the material we are covering will be covered very indepth. It is fascinating learning about the soviet collapse and how the economy lead to their fall. We also have spent tons of time talking about Marx which is new to me since I only ever discussed Marx in my political science class, never in economics. After class we all loaded the buses and went on a tour of the old city. It was beautiful and we saw several large churches with cute lithuanian women as our guides before seeing the presidential palace and heading to lunch. Since we are such a large group lunch was eaten in three different locations. Our restaurant was amazing. You walked into a barn type entry where they had a chicken and a rooster who would occasionally fight each other for food. The food was interesting. Lithuanians love there potatoes and fat. They put sour cream on or in everything. It was  so much heavier than I would have liked but it was better than a lot of things we could have had. After lunch we went to the KGB museum and had a tour. It was really interesting. I never realized how much I didn't know about the Soviet Union until I got here. After the tour of the KGB prison we had two hours of free time. Our original goal was to get gelato  but after an hour of walking around without finding anything we decided to get sherbert instead. After that we headed to look around and not be bums, needless to say that since we had really only had a grand total of maybe 7hours of sleep the entire trip we were pretty out of it. While wandering around we found a library and a park with Tiki heads that we decided to take pictures with. After that we had to head back to the bus stop to catch the bus to dinner. While we were sitting there we had a parade of buddists go past us chanting and singing. It was a little weird after being told all day that lithuania was no longer pagan(their words not mine) to find that they had embraced buddism so readily. Dinner was at an amazing 5 star restaurant on the ourskirts of town. We had a salad, stuffed chicken with potatoes, and an angel food apple cake. It was pretty good. After that we were allowed to walk along the premisses where we took pictures before returning back to old town. We then walked up a large hill to a tower that overlooked Vilnius. It was quite a hike! When we got back down Natalia decided that we should see the part of the city where they have chosen a different constitution. It was a ways away but it was an amazing walk and the constitution was put up for all to read on mirrors. There were 10-20 rights that all citizens have written in lithuanian, english, and russian. It was a nice insight into the country. We then went back to the hotel. (at this point it was around 10:30pm) Once back we ended up connecting to the WiFi for one last time and then spent our time packing and taking showers. You wouldn't believe how gross we all feel. It's been really nice but really hot which created a lot of sweat for all of us and we were all dirty and smelly. I have no idea how I won't run out of clothes soon. The clothes we wear aren't suitable after 3 hours let alone a full day. We hit the sack around 1am and I got a decent amount of sleep. (Tamarine snores VERY loudly so i ended up putting ear plugs in but after that I slept like a rock.)
Today we have had travel day. We started out with breakfast at 8 and then had 2 hours of classes before packing up and leaving the hotel. For lunch we stopped at a local cafe by a castle and afterwords were able to tour the castle and walk around the lake. It was beautiful and we were surrounded by so many locals. Everyone was swimming in the lakes and sailing in sail boats. It was a great way to spend a few hours and we could have had a really good time there. After a couple of hours we all got back on the coach and headed out to Klaipeda by the coast where we will stay for the next few days.
Once we arrived in Klaipeda we could see a major difference in the scenery. The area seems much more run down than Vilnius. After an hour to get to our rooms, which included lugging our bags up the flights of stairs(I was only on two and Kellen took it half the way- thanks!!!:)). Most of the girls headed to the grocery store while the guys hit the basketball court but I decided to stay in my room and unpack. I feel so much better with everything out of bags and organized! After our hour was up we went to dinner at a local restaurant before taking a quick tour to see how to get to and from the dorm at LCC. After making it back to the dorm s bunch of us girls decided to go to a local coffee shop for some late desert. It was a lot of fun and we got to see a lot of locals, they also got to stare at us. That is one thing about traveling that always bothers me, being on display for the locals. They never seem to get tired of watching the americans.
Now I am off to bed after some quick work online. Although it is 4:30 there it is 12:30 here and we have another early day tomorrow.
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