To Vilnius and the KGB museum

Vilnius Travel Blog

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Map at the rest stop

Vilnius is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has a legacy of history going back to the medieval age. Supposed to have very interesting architecture here.

Another border crossing today from Latvia to Lithuania. The bus stopped for the border agent to come onboard to collect our passports and then the bus waited on the Lithuanian side and the passports were returned a few minutes later.  So we are officially in Lithuania. The largest of the 3 Baltic states, with 3.6 million people.  It's a bit silly for me to think about countries with 1-5 million people, since I just returned from China and almost any old city there has several million people, if not tens of millions! But the people of these 3 countries are really quite different in heritage and had their own languages.

The 2 ostriches at the rest stop "zoo"
Being small gave them the advantage of agility, like having wi-fi access widely available; but also the disadvantage of being at the mercy of stronger and bigger neighbors.

Lithuania had been part of the Polish-Lithuania commonwealth after being a huge and independent empire in medieval times, the capital city Vilnius was founded in 1323. Alternately under great influence by the Poles,  the Russians, and sometimes the Germans over the centuries, it was the only country which saw bloodshed (12 died) in 1991 in their quest to become independent from the Soviets. They were the most generous to the Russians left in their country after becoming independent, allowing the Russians to become citizens.

A play area at the rest stop
Even so, its capital has the smallest percentage (20% of the 600,000 population) of Russians today. In pre-WWII days, a large Jewish community existed in the country at almost 200,000, and after being wiped out by the Nazis only about 5000 Jews remain today in all of Lithuania.

About 20km into Lithuania we made a rest stop at Birzai where there was a small "farm museum" and zoo. There were a couple of ostriches, brown bears and deer. Then we stopped a few miles down at a small airport north of Panevezys where there were several leftover Soviet era planes and helicopters. Our tour bus driver was also a private pilot so he knew and paid attention to such things like probably all private pilots do! So my husband Kevin enjoyed looking at the airplanes there.

Saying hi to the brown bear!

A note on the roads we have travelled from Tallinn to Vilnius. The guidebook I had on the Baltics was a 2004 version and said the road conditions were bad. However, since joining the EU, the Baltic nations have received grants to improve their infrastructures, and the main roads between the capitals were definitely high on the list so they have been improved. Other than some "construction" areas, the roads were smooth and problem-free. There was not that much traffic either.

We arrived in Vilnius a couple of hours latere, had a late lunch and went to visit the KGB museum.  It is also known as the Museum of Genocide Victims. Please see the separate review on this museum for more.

Our hotel the Radisson was at the center of town. After resting a little before dinner, we ate dinner at the hotel restaurant, which was right by the street looking like a winter garden.

The bear stood up to get the leaf
The Greenland shrimp salad with avocados, bacon bits, pine nuts and cherry tomatos was one of the best salads I have had, the grilled lamb ribs were also good. Dad had fresh tasty oysters, and the peach melba desserts got rave reviews (I had ice cream). All for a price that would be average in terms of US $.

At dinner time we had a summer storm which passed quickly, followed by a beautiful rainbow. A group of young pretty women in white nurse or red cross uniforms went by, and later came by in rickshaws, they were happy and waved at everyone who all had to look at them because they were very striking. And we even saw people on segways going down the street, presumbly you can rent them somewhere.

portia says:
hi, thanks! Just trying to remember it for my own sake and share with fellow travbuddies.
Posted on: Apr 22, 2008
portia says:
The fighter jet and other airplanes were not in a museum, but at a real tiny airport before we got to Vilnius. I have the name of the airport in one of the photos below.
Posted on: Sep 09, 2007
CFD says:
Vilnius , the best of the Baltic cities? Where did you see the fighter jet airplanes? In Riga there is a museum next to the airport, is it the same in Vilnius? Vilnius is great ;)
Posted on: Sep 09, 2007
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Map at the rest stop
Map at the rest stop
The 2 ostriches at the rest stop …
The 2 ostriches at the rest stop …
A play area at the rest stop
A play area at the rest stop
Saying hi to the brown bear!
Saying hi to the brown bear!
The bear stood up to get the leaf
The bear stood up to get the leaf
interior of the farm house on disp…
interior of the farm house on dis…
The wagon storage area at the back…
The wagon storage area at the bac…
THe door to the souvenir shop whic…
THe door to the souvenir shop whi…
A Russian MIG-23, NATO code Flogg…
A Russian MIG-23, NATO code "Flog…
Kevin holding the nose of the MIG-…
Kevin holding the nose of the MIG…
Another airplane identified as a S…
Another airplane identified as a …
Sign at the small airport
Sign at the small airport
Helicopter Mil Mi-2 at the airfield
Helicopter Mil Mi-2 at the airfield
Instruments in the helicopter
Instruments in the helicopter
A newly wed couple in Vilnius
A newly wed couple in Vilnius
The restaurant in Vilnius where we…
The restaurant in Vilnius where w…
The Philharmonic building where th…
The Philharmonic building where t…
Going to the KGB museum
Going to the KGB museum
Sign at the KGB museum entry
Sign at the KGB museum entry
Downstairs to the prison. Not some…
Downstairs to the prison. Not som…
The guards room in the prison area
The guards room in the prison area
Shredded documents in one of the r…
Shredded documents in one of the …
The hallway of the KGB prison area…
The hallway of the KGB prison are…
The kitchen area which was uncov…
The "kitchen" area which was unco…
The drain which allowed blood to b…
The drain which allowed blood to …
Bullet holes on the wall of the ex…
Bullet holes on the wall of the e…
Names and dates of victims at the …
Names and dates of victims at the…
View of the main street in Vilnius…
View of the main street in Vilniu…
St Casimir Church on main street a…
St Casimir Church on main street …
Fresh oysters dad had for appertiz…
Fresh oysters dad had for apperti…
After the short summer storm, the …
After the short summer storm, the…
Kevin had the chicken and shrimp r…
Kevin had the chicken and shrimp …
I thought this was a smart idea fo…
I thought this was a smart idea f…
Window shopping for amber at a Vil…
Window shopping for amber at a Vi…
Vilnius Sights & Attractions review
The museum of genocide victims (also known as the KGB museum) was opened in 1992 in what used to be the headquarters of the KGB in Vilnius. The main… read entire review
Vilnius Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
We had dinner in the Radisson hotel's winter garden like restaurant, which was right by the street. So get a window seat and you can people watch as… read entire review
Vilnius
photo by: EmyG