A Taste of Lithuania

Vilnius Travel Blog

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The guys that helped me find Justas. Bless their little hearts.
When Justas left for work in the morning, he--thankfully--left me with the keys and the understanding that I'd deliver them once I was out and about. We went over the map the night before and he even drew some pictures. As I was walking the route, I realized we should have drawn just a bit more on the actual map. I roamed in confused circles, holding up the scribbled drawing, wondering "is THIS the bridge he was talking about?" Finally, I decided drastic measures had to be taken. Considering I didn't have the street address or name of the company (because that would have been way too easy) I couldn't merely ask for directions. So I found the first available group of youths and asked if I could pay to use their phone. -- It should be noted that, already in my travels, I've thrown out the idea of saving face and do what needs to be done (risking embarrassment) as a means of survival.
Cold Beet Soup
It makes for interesting stories. -- The available group I came across was three guys who had just finished school that day and were in the middle of (as I came to find out) buying some sort of legal "upper" to aid their celebration. Fortunately they didn't seem to mind the interruption and even made the phone call for me. And instead of merely giving me directions, they also proceeded to walk me to the awaiting Justas.

I'm going to interject a little request here: On behalf of me and all the helpful Jozefs, Marios and inhaling students of the world, I ask that you PLEASE be kind to foreigners. If it weren't for people like this, I'd still be sitting in the Krakow train station. So the next time you see a lost traveler, with a heavy backpack and bewildered look, please lend a hand.
Trakai lake with Tadas, Vytas, Algita and Justas
Their mother/father/grandma back home would really appreciate it. And perhaps you'll make it into their blog.

But back to the streets of Vilnius. We made it to Justas (where I, of course, had to defend my directional skills) and headed out for lunch. We met up with Vytas and their friend Tadas, and the boys showed me to a very traditional Lithuanian meal. You learn very quickly that the Liths love their potatoes. The most famous is the Zeppelin. A potato filled with minced meat. This is what I ate. Preceded, of course, by the famed cold beet soup. The idea of this scared me for many reasons: Cold soup? Really? Beets? Yuck. And not to mention the hot pink/purple hue I hadn't seen since the late 80s. But what do you know...I really liked it.
vball at Trakai
This goes to show that moms across the world are right and you shouldn't judge before trying.

While we waited for our dessert, I learned how to count to 10 with the best method ever: a game of Battleship! The placemats had the squares and because of my game vs Tadas, I can now count from vionose to deshim. Mom and foreign language teachers around the globe: take note!

The boys headed back to work and left me to explore the KGB Museum. Vilnius has a museum dedicated to the history and genocide of the Lithuanian people from 1930s-90 at the hands of the soviets. It's set up in the building that housed the former KGB headquarters, prison cells and all. It was a lot of reading, but really good information. I'm definitely traveling in an area with a somber, recent history that seems to still show on the faces of the older generation.
The KGB prison toilets looked awfully familiar

In the evening, the boys, Vytas's girlfriend Algita and I left town for the lakes and castle of the nearby Trakai. We played volleyball and the boys swam (it was definitely not warm enough to join) until the mosquitoes drove us away. I tried yet another traditional dish for dinner--the kibina. A pastry pocket of meat and perhaps my new favorite. To top off the night, we rented a boat and took turns rowing around the castle. I discovered I'm not so great at rowing. The coordination has a lot to gain and I think we feared for our boat with a couple turns. But I pulled it off and managed the last leg, rowing safely to shore without any damage.
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The guys that helped me find Justa…
The guys that helped me find Just…
Cold Beet Soup
Cold Beet Soup
Trakai lake with Tadas, Vytas, Alg…
Trakai lake with Tadas, Vytas, Al…
vball at Trakai
vball at Trakai
The KGB prison toilets looked awfu…
The KGB prison toilets looked awf…
photo by: sheylla