Lost in the Streets of Vilnius

Thus far, I’d been extremely successful in not getting lost. But, somehow, it took me a while to get my bearings once I arrived at the Vilnius bus station. Even after asking random people and consulting a map, I ended up taking the long route to get to the Old Town.

When I finally arrived, I couldn’t find my hostel. I knew I was on the right street but couldn’t find the door! Like a typical lost tourist, I lugged my backpack up and down the street trying to find the correct street number.

At last I located the door that led to the hostel above and was able to check in. After a no-nonsense check in, I settled into at 12-bed dorm, which I was dreading. However, it turned out the room was enormous and everyone would definitely fit in it.

My first foray into Vilnius was to walk around the Old Town and take it in. Like most European old towns, Vilnius is completely walkable and is probably one of the best ways to see things. As I walked along, I noticed many shops selling amber jewelry and articles made from wool.

When I got to Gediminas Castle Hill, I buckled down and decided to hike to the top. I pushed on despite the bitingly cold wind. It may not look like it from the pictures, but the air had a definite chill to it. Only later did I realize that there was a funicular on the other side of the hill in which I could have easily ridden to the top for a small fee. Ah, such is life sometimes.

I must admit that the walk was not overly difficult, especially if you’re relatively in shape. That being said though, I am not in shape and wore the wrong footwear to boot ( boots would’ve been a better choice) as the ground was old, disintegrating cobblestones and dirt. Still, I pushed on against the elements and a stunning view rewarded me at the top.

Across the way stood three crosses on a hill, which is called Crooked Castle, and is part of perimeter defenses of the past. Today they stand like sentinels surrounded by lush forest. I enjoyed the fact that so much green space was preserved here in the middle of a bustling Old Town.

After taking a look inside a cathedral and walking through many streets filled with other religious houses, I decided I needed to warm up and stopped at a bookstore with an adjoining cafe. In a blink, a large, steaming cup of hot chocolate warmed me from the inside out. What a great way to wind down the day!

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Road to Vilnius

After a couple glorious days in Riga, I’m off again. Next Stop? Vilnius, Lithuania. What awaits me there? Who knows . . . but isn’t that the point?

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Riga Shines through the Darkness

What a difference a day makes! My second day in Riga started off pretty bleak. The sky was overcast, and the weather was cool. I had to wrap up in a couple of layers because I didn’t have the proper outerwear to combat the chill.

Despite this inconvenience, I still joined the walking tour to get a better sense of the city. The tour took us through the Central Market, which is partly housed in old zeppelin hangars. Here you can find fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry and fish, bread, cakes, clothes and souvenirs.

We took a walk through an area of town that was heavily controlled by the Soviet Union after World War II. During that time, a large number of Soviets came to Latvia, and today, Russian is the second most common language in Riga after Latvian.

The tour took us by the Freedom Monument and the National Opera House. The monument stands in honor of the soldiers who died during the Latvian War of Independence in the early 1920s. We also visited St Peters Church in the Old Town.

By the end of the tour, I felt like I knew the city a lot more. It is beautiful despite some of the horrible things it has endured. Its people have survived and thrived in the face of difficult conditions. But, it still remembers its past and uses it to succeed in the future.

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Filed under Attraction, Latvia