Monday, May 13, 2013

Relaxing in Lithuania

One of the best parts about living in Europe is the ability to explore new territory relatively cheaply. It's not that I'd never heard of Lithuania before, I just didn't know that I wanted to go there until I found incredibly cheap flights to Vilnius, the capital.


What made Vilnius the perfect destination was that it is a small town with a concentrated old city. There is not too much to see, which, at 31 weeks pregnant, was perfect for me. I needed a place where I wouldn't feel pressured to do too much.


If I were not pregnant, I think one day in the city and a couple days in the rest of the country would be the perfect amount of time in Lithuania. We had five days! Even the tourist information representative was shocked that we were in her country for so long. You know what though, it was one of the most relaxing vacations I've taken in a while.

As usual, we spent most of our time eating :) I am pretty much an expert on every bakery and cafe in Vilnius now.

How we spent most of our time

I really love Lithuanian food! It's basically down-home comfort food. I couldn't get enough of the mushroom and cheese dumplings and beet soup. The food may not look like much, but trust me, it was amazing!

Dumplings at Koldunine

Amazing beet and mushroom soups at Gedimino 9

I always try to find free tours in new cities. We lucked out and found a great three-hour walking tour put on by the Tourist Information center. It was more of a local's point of view, rather than a tour specifically for tourists. I loved it. My favorite part was when we crossed over to the artist colony of Uzupis. This quirky neighborhood considers themselves separate from Vilnius. They have their own constitution and mayor, and once a year they have an Independence Day celebration. Fittingly, their Independence Day is on April 1st. If you want to visit Uzupis on that day, make sure to bring your passport. You'll need it to enter their "republic."


Vilnius has an absurd amount of churches. We only managed to see a few, but there are more than forty. Like Saint Petersburg, many of the fa├žades are painted in pastel colors to make the city appear brighter during the long, dark winters.


One of the main sites in town is the Gediminas Tower. It is the only remaining part of the upper castle, and it offers some great views of the city. You can walk to the top of the hill, or you can take a quick funicular.


View from the top of the tower

On our last day in Lithuania we took a day trip to Trakai. It's a quick mini-bus ride away and will only set you back a few bucks. The town is even smaller than Vilnius, but it has a gorgeous castle that is surrounded by water. It makes for some dramatic views. In the summer you can rent boats and paddle around the castle. Doesn't that sound lovely?




One of my favorite things we did while in Lithuania was seeing the Cirque du Soleil show Alegria! I've wanted to see any Cirque du Soleil performance for a long time now, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Tickets weren't that much less expensive than they are elsewhere, but the theater was tiny, meaning every seat was practically front-row!



Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any pictures in the theater, but trust me when I say it was incredible! The sheer athleticism required by the performers is breathtaking! My favorite acts were the trampoline (where the whole stage turns into a giant trampoline), and the balance beams (where men fly through the air and land on beams held by other men).

And thus marks the end of flying for a while. It's strange to think that this was the last vacation with just Dan and I before our lives change forever. Though things will never be the same, I can't wait to see what comes next.

P.S. Check out my post on TripWolf for a more detailed look at Lithuanian sweets. 

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