I’ve already been in a new country for several days, and haven’t sent any news! Not good.
I don’t even know where to start! It’s the second time that I’ve been in Vilnius, in Lithuania. But my adventures in this city in the last two days can’t be compared with a guided tour: “Look right. Now look left.” To say the truth, my meeting with the city started with a disappointment… My expectations to have a warm trip were disappointed by +8°C in the morning and a hat pulled over my frozen ears. The awakening city welcomed me with ice-cold wind and Saint-Petersburg-like architecture. At a certain moment, I felt like I hadn’t left Russia: there were people speaking Russian everywhere, typical five-storey blocks on the outskirts and dumpy plastered buildings in the city center. However, the difference feels in the atmosphere. Everything is somehow… simpler. You don’t see preoccupied people in a hurry, grim cashiers and peevish drivers. The mood is steady, calm and moderately amiable.
I walk a lot every day, and I already know most of the paved ways and narrow bridges by heart. Here, like in Helsinki, there is a forest right in the city center! There’s the Vilnia River, and what can be called mountains by local standards! Well, hills. Fells. From time to time, my satnav decides that it’s a good idea to climb them after rain.
And sometimes Vilnius looks like a village that tries to grow up to a real city, but haven’t done it yet. Here, together with new yellow-white buildings, you can see one-storey village houses, there’s a standpipe against them, and shabby narrow sheds nearby. Also, most of the city districts don’t have central heating, so people get by as they can: some of them have chimneys, some furnaces. They are happy that at least they recently got water supplied to almost all houses.
Vilnius has an incredible number of churches and temples! Here, there is a temple of all saints at once, an Orthodox cathedral, a synagogue, a Catholic cathedral, a Tibetan place of power… A rather high concentration for such a small city. Nevertheless, they’re all very beautiful and different. And all of them fit superbly into the city’s architecture.
I lived not far away from Gediminas Square, and Gediminas was Grand Duke of Lithuania. A square, an avenue and a fortress on the mountain are named after him… It’s difficult to get lost. It’s the center, with a wide street, many shops and Russian-speaking tourists scurrying about.
You can walk around Vilnius for hours with no definite goal: you’ll definitely stumble on something interesting. And if you get lost, you can always ask your way around. In Russian.=)