Vilnius

Trip Start Jun 26, 2007
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Trip End Ongoing


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Friday, August 31, 2007

Legends says Vilnius was founded in the 1320's when Lithuanian grand duke Gedimas dreamt of an iron wolf that howled with the voice of 100 wolves - a sure sign to build a city as mighty as their cry. Who would have known that the iron wolves turned up 600 years later in the form of Germany and the USSR.
Vilnius has had a difficult time since the start of WWI when it became occupied by Germany. During the two world wars it became part of Poland before falling back into the hands of the Germans inWWII and eventually into the superpower of the USSR. But like most stories it has a happy ending and Vilnius finally got its independence back in 1990.

Equestrian Statue of Gediminas, Vilnius, Lithuania
As legends go Gedimas (above) helped build Vilnius, although facts indicate Vilnius had inhabitants 1000 years earlier. 

I arrive late on friday afternoon afer a 5 hour bus journey from Klaipeda giving myself plenty of time to find this well hidden hostel "VB Inn". After 30 minutes of wandering around the Old Town I finally stumble across the 5cm sign just inside the metal gate marking the entrance to a courtyard situated behind an old church. After a hour at the hostel I was informed it was Vilnius Day tomorrow with lots of free concerts going on around the town, unfortunately this also coinsides with a 24 hour alcohol ban. As soon as the Irish lads had heard about this they were rapidly off to the supermarket to stock up on their beers and vodka. Lets say I wsn't too far behind them with the same idea.
That night was very unproductive and I spent the night playing drinking games with the Irish lads and a Canadian guy. Several hours later and a lot more intoxicated, we had plan to find a night club so off I went to put my shoes on but by the time I had come back, they were gone. Thanks alot guys!!!!!

Or should it had been thanks, Going to bed early meant I could enjoy my sightseeing on Vilnius Day. Once again the best way to appreciate Vilnius Old Town is by strolling through the narrow cobbled streets and admiring the numerous churches. The sudden rain-shower disrupted the outside tour and meant a quick detour to the KGB building and the occupation museum. 
This museum set in the old KGB building is definitely worth a visit but be warned it is not for the faint hearted (cost, 2 Litas - sudent entry and 8 Litas for headphones with English commentary). The basement of the building has been left unaltered and here you can see the old prison cells with writing still on the wall, the paddded room, the torture room or the execution room with the audio commentary providing more interesting and disturbing information. Upstairs is the occupation museum and the story of the mass deportation of Lithuanian to Siberia during the Russian occupation.

Padded Room - KGB Building, Vilnius, LithuaniaThe padded room in the KGB museum

Alcohol ban on Vilnius Day What worse the padded room or the alcohol ban?

In the evening, I bumped into April (an Australian traveller I met in Klaipeda) where we teamed up and did abit more Old Town sightseeing before ended up in the Cathedral Square to watch a live performance by Foje (a Very popular 1990's Lithuanian Rock Band). This was almost as entertaining as watching the Irish lads counting down till midnight when the alcohol ban was lifted before hitting a nightclub again. Even funnier would be all the stag parties in Vilnius that are completely sober.

Foje song 01
A few songs performed by Foje.
Foje song 03
And a pop song by a random Lithuanian girl band
A random Lithuanian girl group

I wish I could have stayed longer in Vilnius. In hindsight it is definitely the most beautiful of the Baltic Old Towns and I never had time to find the random Frank Zappa statue. But I'll be back here. Just don't know when.

View of Old Town, Vilnius, Lithuania
The beautiful Old Town of Vilnius
Slideshow Report as Spam
Where I stayed
VB Inn

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