#6 Lithuania, July 11, 2011

Dear Everybody,

I did a walking tour of old Vilnius, although, of course, I had seen some of it before. Nevertheless, I looked in a ton of churches—one, a Russian Orthodox was over-the-top baroque and had three 14th century martyrs’ bodies preserved and on display, although covered. Their names were Saints Anthony, Ivan and Eustachius; they were also pictured in mosaic over the door.

 

 

 

 

I stopped at the Comtempory Art Museum—it reminded me of an old cartoon where a couple is gazing at Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Can painting over their fireplace, and the man says, “I kind of miss the Matisse.”

When walking down ordinary, not pretty old streets, time and again I would come upon a private gate, and when I looked in there was a beautiful house inside with lovely flowers or some other pretty enterprise like a guest house. Or there would be a library—.

I found the statue of the American, Frank Zappa—I thought he was the movie director, but alas, he was a rock star who died in 1993.  Never heard of him!  I gather there are two Frank Zappas, the movie director and the rock star.

I had a good Lithuanian lunch; first a snack of beer and smoked pigs ears, then robust mushroom soup served in a caraway rye bread roll, a salad, and some Chilean wine.

 

 

On the way home I stopped in the food halls and bought some cherries for a night snack and for the next morning. The weather was picture perfect—what a great day!

The next morning I got the train to Kaunas, a delightful small city about two hours away.  Saturday is wedding day in Kaunas, so I saw about 10 or more wedding parties in all the churches and in the Wedding Palace (Old Town Hall) with several stretch limos waiting. There were TWO stretch HUMMERS! With imports, etc., how in the world much does one of those cost here??!!

 

I visited the Kaunas 13th century castle, or what was left of it, many churches, and another interesting building, a 16th century trades building constructed on a site of a temple to Perdunas, the Lithuanian Thunder God!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had just remarked to the hostel desk clerk about how hot and sunny it was; five minutes later it was raining, but 10 minutes after that, the sun came out again. It did that a couple of times. I see almost everybody here carries an umbrella.

I see I’m one of the few people wearing blue jeans here. The local people are quite dressed up. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen that. The travelers are mostly young people wearing shorts; a few European tour groups appear, but they’re not wearing jeans, either.  And I’m impressed with the high quality of the graffiti here! See if you
agree—-

One more day in Kaunas allowed me to see the Devil Museum, a collection of 2,000 devils, mainly from Lithuania, but a small group from other countries, too. Stalin and Hitler were represented as ‘devils,’ as they were! I also looked in on the National Ciurlionis Art Museum, but saw little because many of the rooms were under construction. They did have some of his paintings at the Devil Museum, though.

I visited a commemoration of a student named Romas Kalantas who set himself on fire in ’77 to protest the Soviet occupation. Other churches and stopping points occupied me until—the best part of the day—my main meal. I ate at a darling rustic restaurant called Zalias Ratas, and had good lamb dumplings and potato pancakes, both with sour cream.  (How many Weight Watcher points is that?!)

The next morning I got up early, hunted for a cup of coffee (there is absolutely NONE until 9:00!), gave up and walked to the bus station to get a bus to tiny Nida on a spit of land in the Baltic Sea. It was fun to look out the bus window and view the beautiful landscape, all green and growing. The bus was very nice as was the freeway.

 

 

 

A young woman sat next to me who, it turned out, was only 16 years old (I thought she was in college) and is going to be a junior in high school next fall, attending a school in Laurenceville, New Jersey. She was on her way to work at a camp in Nida. We had such a nice chat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nida is a resort town. I had a big lunch at a restaurant overlooking the mighty Parnidis Sand Dune and the water with ships, ducks, and swans floating on it.

 

 

 

 

 

I enjoyed the cold beetroot soup, but the rest of the meal was only mediocre—I guess the view was supposed to compensate.

I’m enjoying Lithuania—-

This entry was posted in 2011, South Africa/Italy/the Baltics. Bookmark the permalink.

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