According to the Vilnius tourist board, and I quote, “Vilnius is Europe’s G spot. Nobody knows where it is, but once you find it, it is amazing!

But before heading to Vilnius (because now we have to), lets make a quick stop at Trakai Castle. It was built in the 14th century, on an island in the middle of a lake, with a drawbridge leading up to the front door. If you are thinking of invading this castle, it has 2.5 meter thick walls to keep you out. Might be easier to find Vilnius instead!
So how do you find the spot that is Vilnius? Why not take one of these cool electric buses? Lithuanians are very environmentally conscious. Vilnius is also walk-able. We actually walked from the airport to our hotel in the center of town.
And if electric bus or walking isn’t your thing, how about a portal? Just outside the bus station they had this portal that would display cameras from other bus stations around the world. You could see what life is like in different places, pretty cool idea.
Being in Europe, train is always an option. Where upon arrival in Vilnius you can grab a quick snack and drink at this pub located right on the train platform. The Lithuanians have really figured out convenience and public transport!
Apparently, Albert Einstein was able to find the spot that is Vilnius, and changed his appearance to become a backpacker. This piece is called “it is never too late”. Note his famous equation tattoo.
Our good friend backpacking Albert would have found narrow streets with hidden cafes and bars. Vilnius is one of the oldest cities in Europe, well over 700 years old. And unlike most old towns in Europe that have a number of UNESCO recognized buildings, the entire town of Vilnius is considered a UNESCO world heritage site.
If backpacking famous physicists aren’t your thing, maybe musicians instead? I was confused when I happened upon Leonard Cohen in Vilnius. Although Leonard Cohen is Canadian, his mom was born in the town of Kaunas, just down the highway from here. She immigrated to Canada in 1927. Leonard never visited Lithuania.
Might as well start our tour of Vilnius here, the main town square. It is unknown when this building was built but the first recorded history of the Vilnius town hall occurred in 1432.
The town-hall square is the main meeting place in Vilnius and was always busy. On this particular day a huge number of people dressed in traditional Lithuanian clothing gathered. I couldn’t get much information about this gathering but was told they each represented the different family tribes from around the area. They marched through town holding signs with their historical family names. I just assumed it was the line up for the Starbucks?
When we left for this trip, I was often asked if we were concerned being so close to Russia in former Soviet countries. All of the countries we visited are NATO members which was reassuring if things went sideways. The Lithuanian people were very proud to be part of NATO. This plaque was on the side of the town hall building.
Another example at the Ministry of foreign affairs. The Lithuanian flag displayed along side Ukraine.
Speaking of Russia… The Lithuanian people are not shy about speaking out against Russia. This is the city’s administrative building. At the top the banner reads “Putin the Hague is waiting for you”.
This building in Vilnius is(was) called Moscow house. The original stated idea was a building that would be for improving business relations between Russia and Lithuania. But not long after construction started, the Lithuanians allege that Russia erected a building far bigger than permitted and the actual purpose would be to spread Russian propaganda and influence politics. Construction was halted by the Lithuanian government and the Russians were kicked out. The Lithuanian state has taken ownership of the building and plans to demolish it.
Fittingly, on the back side of Moscow house, an enormous mural of a Ukrainian women has been printed onto the building. The piece is called “Until Victory” and was painted by a robot that would scale the walls and deposit little spray paint dots of various colors. The women is a volunteer that worked at the Zaporizhzhia refugee center. You can see a picture of her with the mural here:
Another example of Soviet brutalist architecture. This is the Sporto Rumai. I’m told that when it was built by the Soviets, it was built right over an ancient Jewish graveyard. So the Lithuanian government is considering converting this unused stadium into a Holocaust museum.
It was impossible to pick which buildings to share in these pictures as Vilnius has so many. This is Sv. Kazimiero Baznycia. Which means Church of St. Casimir. Built in the very early 1600’s.
Or how about Sv Onos Baznycia, the church of Saint Anne. The church was first built in the 1400’s of wood but along the way was upgraded to this brick Gothic style that uses 33 different kinds of bricks to achieve.
Vilniaus Arkikatedra AKA the Vilnius Cathedral. This Roman catholic cathedral was likely originally built sometime in the 1200’s.
The cathedral is home to over 40 classic pieces of art from the 16th – 19th century including some Frescoes. When the Soviets took over Lithuania, this church was turned into a warehouse. After Lithuania regained independence in 1991, it was then converted back into a church again, and makes a far better tourist attraction than an old Soviet warehouse.
How about some typical Lithuanian food? This is cold beet-root soup. And despite its Pepto bismol like appearance, is very delicious! I wonder what came first, beet-root soup or Pepto?
Another popular dish is Kepta Dona, which is deep fried rye bread covered in melted cheese. If I had to vote, Pepto soup would be my preference.
Near the city center, is a tall hill with a castle on top of it. There is a cable car that will haul tourists to the top for an exceptional view and summit selfie, if you are into that. We had heard that on the backside of the hill was a very long set of stairs that also went to the top. Since we had spent all our money on radioactive pink colored soup, stairs it would be!
The views are fantastic. The Neris river with downtown Vilnius in the background. Vilnius was once an unsafe place to visit. In 2011 it had the prestigious title of the most murders per capita in all of Europe. The situation has dramatically improved since then and is now a safe place to visit. I can confirm, I was not murdered while visiting.
Lithuanians are dedicated to environmental sustainability with Vilnius being one of the greenest capital cities in Europe. Over 70% of the city is dedicated to parks and green space.
Since the castle is the high spot for this tour, you know what that means! Traditional Summit Selfie.
And to close out these photos. The days of the week a shop is open. We noticed that all the stores don’t list the days of the week but number them 1-7. I asked a local which day was number 1? But they said they were not sure. I still don’t understand how this works.
Bonus sculpture of a topless women riding a bear. Take note how it is done Canadians.
If you are still having trouble locating the spot that is Vilnius, here you go. Fun fact, it is the geographic center of the European continent. Next up, an independent republic I guarantee you have never heard of before.

1 Comment

Teditor · December 20, 2023 at 2:27 pm

This is your best one yet! Really interesting!

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