31st July – Vilnius

31 Jul

We had a fairly disturbed night at our picnic spot, as just as we got into bed a load of local youngsters arrived for a Saturday night of music and socialising (and who can blame them!). In a way it was quite funny as we were smugly saying only moments ago how lovely and quiet it was by the lake. It all went quiet at about 12.30am and so we got in a few hours sleep before the local ‘recycle team’ came from one of the small villages nearby to sort through all the bins looking for aluminium tins and bottles. They started at about 4.30am. Again you have to laugh…. On the plus side it was free, had a portaloo and lots of bins!

The coordinates for a city camping site were then put into the sat nav and we made the short journey (about 27km) to Vilnius (capital city). It has a population of only half a million, and although lovely in the centre, the outskirts have many old Soviet era concrete tower blocks which are not particularly pretty. I am sure that gradually over time these will be improved as the rest of the city has been. This is not really any different from the outskirts of most east european cities.

We took the trolley bus from just outside the campsite to the central station (2.5ltl). Then as we got further into the centre we started to see why people are so enthusiastic about Vilnius. Both the new business and shopping areas and the old town are certainly worth visiting. There are lots of buildings in the old part of the town which have been renovated and now look beautiful.

In order to get an overall view of the city we wandered up to the top of Castle Hill, where there has been a castle since 1316. It has been destroyed and rebuild many times over the years, but always on the same site. There is a great view from the top.

The cathedral in cathedral square.

As you walk out of the square into Gedimino prospektas, which is the road with all the high street stores (even has M&S!), you pass the National Drama Theatre and walk under three figures symbolising Drama, Tragedy and Comedy.

We headed back to the campsite and cooked up chicken in a satay sauce with garlic and onion. Fresh new potatoes out of Marjool’s parents back garden. Desert was rice pudding (made from yesterday’s left over rice) with fruit yogurt and a sprinkle of sugar….mmmm we know how to live it up!

We are leaving for the Baltic coast in the morning, feeling guilty that we have not spent enough time in Vilnius. It is obviously a city with so much to look at and we have given it barely one day. It deserves more but when we only have a week to spend in Lithuania you have to make some compromises.

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