In Vilnius definitely, we had an amazing time as we experienced Vilnius with locals. With its easy, confident charm and a warm, golden glow it made me wish to stay in Vilnius for every summer evening, every year (as I know that I wouldn’t survive their winter 🙁 )
I just love Vilnius so much. It’s another beautiful city that is modern yet full of history where baroque architecture is prevalent. Given its diverse history, you’ll also find neo-classical and gothic architecture next to Soviet functionalism. Every corner is unique and special. I enjoyed it, as you can find a lot of Vilnius street art – small stickers, stencils, quotes, all of the creative expressions in various forms.
There is also Literatu Street with quirky and funky tiles on the wall, commemorating poets and writers connected to Lithuania.
And as I really enjoy bohemian neighborhoods, in Vilnius I found that feel – in the center of the city – the Republic of Užupis is located.
It’s a country within a country. In this area, the local Jewish community used to live. Eventually, after this place started to be abandoned, local artists started moving in. While walking through this area we had to have our eyes wide open not to miss any details, as there was an incredible number of art pieces spread all over the place. But, to be honest, I somehow felt that this place is kinda losing its charm, as it became very trendy (although you can still feel the bohemian spirit of freedom). Also, I think no matter how many times you go there, you can discover something new.
So, as I have already mentioned, it is a self-declared, largely unrecognized, independent republic within the boundaries of Lithuania. Declared a micro-nation by residents in 1997, this community of artists and free spirits. It has its own flag, anthem, constitution, ministers, and army. The constitution embodying Užupis can be found on a public wall, transcribed in 23 different languages.
B: “I feel so comfortable here, because, you know, you can feel this Soviet wind blowing which is slightly creepy, but in that way, the city is expressing some special character, which I like.”
The next day, our amazing friend took us to Trakai. Trakai is lakeside splendor. A small town near Vilnius with its redbrick, picture-postcard castle, giant wooden houses. Although the castle has been rebuilding, its historical charm has been preserved well. Soon after we arrived there, search for small-town rowing bliss was underway. Although the rain started, it didn’t stop us from getting on the wooden dhow and row through the lake for hours. Our group instantly showed the hidden talent of knowing how to row, and we just wished to start doing it as a hobby when we return home.
It was the best day of our travel. It was a wonderful few hours with a chance to enjoy the picturesque natural surroundings. It’s definitely the one thing that gives the city its flavor. We were rowing and catching the wind’s breath. A gentle gust sets the dhow in motion, pulling us further away from shore, giving a feeling of adventure, and the quietness that comes only with the water.
This pleasurable day of rowing with the castle in the background will not be forgotten. It just reminded me how beautiful life in a town with a thriving rowing scene is, a place where weeknights and weekends have but one purpose.
My friend tried to explain how did she feel while we were rowing on the lake, and she said: “This is a mix between Winterfell, Italian lake Komo (because of the Villa we saw), some American university city (as they always have that moment with some lakes) and some Russian remote spot. I enjoy this feeling of pure life while rowing. We just need some books, eventually, some horse riding near the castle and huge aristocrat dresses. Yes, that’s exactly how I am imagining us right now.”
Well, instead of going to the ball in our beautiful new dresses, we finished the day with a Lithuanian specialty – šaltibarščiai, cold beetroot soup made with kefir, boiled eggs, and, preferably, lots of dills and it usually comes with a small side dish of potatoes.
I forgot about the aristocracy. About every nobleman and their calls for the ball. It was so tasty as it explored the cosmos’ connection to hell, heaven, and earth inside me. I was just wondering is it possible that I have discovered this miracle after 25 years of my life. And it’s pink. Everything pink makes Tina happy.