I got back from my trip to Riga, Latvia and Vilnius, Lithuania on Saturday afternoon, exhausted, and then today I went to an Easter bonfire with a friend (a German tradition), and now I’m finally getting around to writing a bit about my trip. Happy Easter to all who celebrate it! This is going to be a long post, with a lot of pictures, so bear with me.
First stop was three days in Vilnius. I was travelling with an American friend from school, and we met up with a Lithuanian friend of a friend for an afternoon. It was nice to see everything from a local perspective and hear his take on Lithuanian history & culture! The hostel we stayed at was rather empty, though, so we didn’t meet many other people of note there.
These three statues were on the roof of a theater in Vilnius’s Old Town.
We also saw a lot of really pretty churches in both cities. I don’t have too many good photos, as the prettiest ones didn’t allow pictures inside, but trust me, they’re gorgeous. And I think all of the Orthodox churches were especially interesting; I’d never been inside one before, but they’re very elaborate. One church, however, had the bodies of 3 martyrs displayed in a glass case. They were covered, but they all had clean white socks sticking out the end. Kind of creeped me out a bit to think about how it’s someone’s job to change the socks on skeletons.
We were in Vilnius for Palm Sunday, too, and heard some nice church music and saw the market stalls set up in the streets.
Vendors sell sweets, flower arrangements for the holiday, and other crafts.
I bought some earrings at one of the markets that I’m sure you’ll see in an outfit post soon! That was it for souvenirs, though, I didn’t have any more room in my luggage. Which you’ll understand, if you’ve ever flown Ryanair!
As you can see from the ice floating in the river, it was still quite cold in Vilnius! Not as bad as in Riga, though, where people were ice fishing outside our window. I don’t have any good photos of that, but I have a few to demonstrate how cold it was in Vilnius…
Even the dogs were bundled up against the cold!
And so were the trees!
In an effort to try to pretend we were really on Spring break and not freezing to death, we ate frozen yogurt. While the rest of our classmates were on beaches in Portugal and Morocco, we were in Lithuania, drawing out our time in the frozen yogurt place as long as possible so as not to have to go back out onto the street.
One district in Vilnius has declared itself an independent republic. It’s known as being a more alternative, artsy part of town, and it’s quite nice. This is the sign when you cross the bridge to enter the district.
This tradition is far from unique to these cities, but I saw some cool bridges covered with “love padlocks” in both Riga and Vilnius.
I preferred Vilnius to Riga, but they were both really nice. We took a bus from Vilnius, and then spent four full days in Riga. The hostel there was much more lively, and I enjoyed drinking in the bar in the evenings and meeting other interesting travelers. The highlight was drinking beer with a Canadian as we bonded over our love of poutine, and then making our own poutine in the hostel kitchen!
One day in Riga, we took the elevator up to the top floor of a really tall hotel, and the views were great. There was a bar you could pay to go into on the second to top floor, but we saw views just as nice for free, and then went back to our favorite (and very cheap) dumpling restaurant in the old town!
Riga’s central market is huge, taking up several old Soviet airplane hangars, and has everything from fish and produce to old Soviet and Nazi war medals. Most of the vendors don’t really like it if you take pictures, though. Hence most of mine being from the same friendly fish stall.
It was a fantastic trip, and I’d really like to go back to the Baltic states, perhaps including Estonia in my next trip as well. Very affordable, too! There are cheap Ryanair flights to all the cities, cheap hostels, and when you’re there, food is cheap as well, both groceries and going out to eat–I had a sit-down meal including a glass of wine in Vilnius for under 6 USD. Riga was a bit pricier, but still quite cheap.
I really love being on the road, meeting new people and seeing new sights every day. Honestly, I’d love to travel for a more extended period of time at some point, but for now I’ll have to content myself with these short trips.