Lietuva, at last

Vilnius Travel Blog

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We pulled up to a cold and rainy Vilnius around 9 in the morning. I was surprised by two things: 1)The signs in the station were very clear and usually also in english. This was a very pleasant discovery and a high contrast to the polish stations I had just experienced. The lady in the tourist information booth even kinda smiled. I don't think I'd seen that in days. I'm sorry Polskis...I know you're my people and all and I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt of your whole cold war history. However, would it really be so hard just to smile? Or at least not give me the "Why are you wasting my time asking me questions?" look. Considering you're in an information booth, and all.

The second surprise was slightly less pleasant. The clean, modern station was contradicted by my first glimpse of the toilets.
not so pleasant surprise #2
Two foot-holds and a hole in the floor in between. And absolutely nothing to grab hold of. I immediately turned around on account of having no idea how to go about this procedure. What perplexed me even more was that I'd seen little old ladies coming out of there like it was nothing. How fit are their abs?? I'm going to have to conduct a little poll of Lithuanian females and figure this one out, cause right now I'm forced to cross my legs and walk away.

My couchsurfing host was working, so I stored my bag in the station for the day and set out. At the exit, I ran into the girl I had been scrunched up next to for the past 9 hours in the bus and finally exchanged words beyond the sole "can I get out to use the restroom" gesture I'd employed through the night.
Her name was Tomako. She's from Japan but spending the year studying in Moscow. We were beginning the day in the same direction, so decided to walk together. In light of her knowledge of Russian and her handy-dandy Vilnius guidebook, I benefited a great deal from the merge. Like Krakow and many of the cities in this area, Vilnius also has an "Old Town" section of the city, situated in the middle and decorated with more churches than Seattle Starbucks. We checked out a few of them, gaining bits of info from Tomako's book as we went.

After a period of wandering, we parted ways. I roamed and absorbed the new city until it was time to meet my host, Justas. He met me at the station and, like a gentleman and generous host, strained under the weight of my backpack after relentlessly offering to carry it.

Justas is a 25-year-old Lithuanian who lives with one roommate, Vytas, in an old-but-charming flat near the city center. My best description of Justas is "goofy" which also happened to be a new english vocabulary word for him. He's a generous host, offering up his space and time and often making dinner of some sort. I also find myself wanting to fight with him! I'm not sure if it's a cultural difference or something lost in translation, but I feel the need to constantly defend myself and my actions. Why are you traveling alone? Why don't you have a phone? You think a girl can really play basketball with Lithuanians?? Of course, this is almost entirely in a playful manner. And I think I enjoy a friendly stubborn squabble every now and then. But it made the stay interesting, that's for sure.

For my first night, we went across the street to watch yet another soccer match. And I got my first taste of an authentic Lithuanian snack...fried black bread with cheese. Pretty damn tasty and not one bit healthy. How Europeans stay so thin, I will never know.

blurbmoi says:
Your blogs are great! Keep it up!
Posted on: Jul 08, 2008
Isabetlog says:
Loving your blog! :)
Posted on: Jul 08, 2008
marksreynolds says:
What a great blog!! I'm guessing there will be more to come later...can't wait :)
Posted on: Jul 08, 2008
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not so pleasant surprise #2
not so pleasant surprise #2
photo by: sheylla