My best travelbuddy/friend and I decided over the summer that we should go somewhere again. I haven’t really been sticking to my resolutions, so a little break wouldn’t do any harm. This time we embraced the truly unknown and got our asses over to Vilnius, Lithuania.
We’ve been travelling throughout Europe ever since I’ve got to know her. It’s her that I did the Interrail with. And since we just couldn’t make up our mind where we should go next (being always on a budget didn’t really help either), so we decided to call in some help.
There’s this company here in The Netherlands that organises a surprise trip: you choose what kind of holiday you like (‘broke’, ‘comfort citytripping’, ‘adventure’ etc.). You pick a date, the number of nights away, pay a certain amount (for flight and accommodation) and a week before departure you get the weather forecast and a time for when you’re supposed to be at the airport. And that’s that… once you’re at the airport you scratch a card, fill in the code and you finally know where you’re going just 2 hours in advance of your flight.
We chose ‘broke’ for 2 nights, we paid 120 euro each, and fully unprepared boarded a plane going to Lithuania where we stayed 2 nights and explored the city by just walking around, seeing ads and our own general knowledge. As by just exploring, I noticed that even though I was planning to photograph so many things, it was really nice to just walk around and let everything sink in – seeing it through my own eyes without a lens in between.
We soon discovered Vilnius has this really nice ‘Old Town’ as city centre. It has this feel like, pre-war Paris, a northern Bratislava, Berlin before it got taken over by the modern crowds, the town in Kiki’s Delivery Service… all mixed together – you get the gist. It was magnificent. Also, some of the shop-signs in Vilnius were really great.
The streets were rather empty for a Friday night – in our experience. And hardly any tourists were found.
We found dinner at ‘Lokys’ – a historical restaurant with nice Lithuanian dishes. And great drinks, very great drinks indeed. We first had a nice aperitif, after which we shared a cheese platter and a meat platter. Then my friend had boar and I had quail. Damn good food. The dessert however was best… I had ‘hot chocolate with ice-cream and nuts’ – yes… actual hot melted chocolate with a dollop of ice-cream covered with almonds. Damn good.
The place we stayed was a centrally placed hostel full of hipsters and generally nice and quiet people. No bunk-beds, just a normal bed with a bedside-table etc. Very clean as well. If you’re ever near and need a place to stay – Hostel Jamaika.
The next day we explored a little more, visited the KGB/Genocide Victims Museum, had some cake, visited a cemetery… all the things you do when you’re exploring a city unprepared. The museum of all things is a must visit when in Vilnius. You really get a bit of a grip on the horrors of the past – and there have been many in Lithuania.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Vilnius was wonderful to visit. The people are friendly, the food is good, I liked the fashion as well. I think it would be a lovely place to actually shop until you drop. It’s very cheap as well. Also, there were over 40 churches in the city, so the ‘skyline’ was really nice as well.
All in all, I had a wonderful time in Vilnius. It was also great to hang out with my friend some more. Life swallows us up sometimes, and it’s great to stand still and be in the moment for a little more with one of those great people in your life. :)
It was just before Vilnius that I quit my job. I’ve been going on interviews ever since, but I’ve also been practising more solitude and gratitude. And that’s really, really great. But that’s for another blog maybe.
Have a good Sunday, folks!