East Still

Trip Start Aug 23, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

And then we attempted to drive to Vilnius. We opened the GPS up, it new Vilnius, but not via the way we wanted to go, so we gave it the flick, pulled out the map, and away we went. A couple hours later, we were fighting the traffic in Vilnius, and amazingly, we found our hostel !!!
Pre-concieved Ideas
Before I went, I was told that beer was cheap and all the women were beautiful
We took a walk in the evening of arrival. I was expecting to see pissed up Poms everywhere, just like Riga, but there weren't any !!! Now according to the book, this is the most preserved city in Europe. Judging from first sight, the writer had never been to L'viv !!! It appeared nice with loads of churches. The Cathedral however was fairly plain.
The next morning, we left and went to a flower market. Nobody was interested in the live ones, only the plastic ones !!! And all around was something better. Babushkas !!! This was better than Ukraine or Latvia. Maybe they bred here !!! Onwards we went, through the only remaing gate and back to the Cathedral. Inside was just as boring, but there was a JP2 plaque to add to our collection !!! Behind it was the remains of a castle. The local council do no let you walk up to it, instead they make you pay to take a funicular !!! The views from the top were ok, but there wasn't much left to be seen. Back down, we walked around through the city, looking at many different churches until we came upon the main Russian one. Inside was a glass topped coffin with three 500 year old monks inside, and they were all wearing socks. Questions swam in my head. Were their feet manky? Did their feet stink? Were they cold. As I am unable to comunicate with the dead, I didn't get an answer. I did ask a Babushka as she spoke to them, but her English was as good as my Lithuanian !!!
Just up from there, I realised why I am not a big fan of religion. Above the old gate was a religious icon. I managed to get in before a crowd appeared, however Lucy wasn't as lucky. She was pushed and shoved aside as they wanted to get there. As I was trying to leave, I was even elbowed !!!
Once out, we made our way out to the old Jewish Ghetto. Before WWll, there were loads of Jews, but now they were pretty much gone, and all that was left was a plaque and a bust. Pity.
But there was a grimmer side. We walked into the Genocide museum, to see how the Soviets had treated the locals. Down in the basement were various cells. There were holding, interogation, torture, solitary and padded !!! They did give the prisoners an exercise yard, but below that was the execution room complete with bullet holes. It made me think about my own family that I have never known, who stayed behind in Poland. Did these Jews survive?
We did consider going to the ballet, but if you had seen the monstrosity of a building, you would understand why we didn't go. It was souless !!! Just up from there was Three Crosses Hill. Just like the Hill of Crosses, the Soviets had blown up the old crosses, and their remains were below, but like a phoenix, it arose from the ashes and three new crosses arrived. The sunset was quite nice as well.
And basically, that was our time in Vilnius
And Finally
So to answer my first question. Beer was cheap if taken away, and the women? Well my Mum always said, "check out the mothers to see what they grow into", and looking at them, no thanks !!!
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