Anything and everything you would want to know about a winter trip to Vilnius, Lithuania- whether you wanted to or not. Thoughts on Couchsurfing included without restrictions. You may also want to brace yourself for some paragraphs on travel adventures.
“Lithuania let me not from your clutches
Your night holds me close
Fingers grasping, snow choking
The windows are clouded,
Foggy with steam
Wintry roads leading to nowhere
Peppered in fluffy snow,
Trucks lined up, red lights creepily gleaming in the gloom
Lost in the foggy mist
Like an ornament of Christmas
Clouds having fled, leery with fear
Lithuania let me not from your clutches
Hold me steady, heft me upright
I dare not flee
The border in daylight is too full of horrors”
The above is what I concluded was the message of Lithuania… at 2am, in the midst of an 18 hour bus ride home alone in the dark. Admittedly, it was dramatic, and there was much more to Vilnius than snow (although that was the main show).
The adventure started out with my friend, Abby, who signed up with me at the last second. I had planned the trip spontaneously, and had planned on going alone to get a better idea of the country where I originated. With a friend however, the trip morphed from 2 days to 4 days. I suppose I didn’t mind.
Day 1: Rough Start, Museums and Hosts
An 18-hour bus ride later, we arrived in Vilnius, Lithuania at 8.30am and proceed to get horribly lost for the next few hours until at last, we found the Genocide Victims Museum. Lithuania has more cause than most to discuss the horrors and consequences of this act, as I learned. Not only had the Lithuanian people dealt with Russian invasion, German troops during World War 2 had taken over parts of the country – but when they left – Lithuanians were not liberated. No. In fact, they were merely sent over to the Russians, who began with the great plan of “Sovietization”, signs of which you can see in the countryside still.
After being harshly reminded of those facts – Abby and I waited out for a few hours for our couchsurfers, a cute couple who took us to their apartment out of the city. Complete with a dog, Kimas, our host cooked us dinner and made us feel extremely welcome. The Lithuanian host spirit was already warming me.
Day 2: Late Laziness
We did not awaken until 12pm. Oops. But that meant, we just got to engage in plenty of exploring, which culminated in finding the “tourist” strip, and walking around in the pleasant chilliness and snow (that is, if you like winter). The night was full of interview help, as Abby had a job application to a neurology lab in the next week.
Alas, my dear friend departed that day. But on the other hand, I began to dive into the books I wished to read. First came “The Golem and The Jinni”, then “A Christmas Carol”, and then “Fahrenheit 451”. There are plenty more, but I’ll restrain myself to those. Even better, my second hosts were absolutely perfect. Another young couple, they took me out to dinner and we proceeded to talk about cultural differences, pinpointing what was so interesting about Lithuania. Things got even better though, as I retreated to their home and met their lovely 16-year-old cat. Some cocktails, and tea later – and I was happily in bed, listening to a new “Book Riot” podcast.
Day 4: Seeing everything and Reading even more!
Somehow this was the most productive day of the whole trip, probably correlating to being forced to awake at 7.45am for a new start so I could hitch a ride in the car. After sitting around blearily in the morning light, I began to walk as per the instructions I had been given last night. Cathedrals, parks, Castles and Uzupis. There was so much to do, and I felt as though one day was hardly enough. The Old City beckoned and I soon found a book café that I had only dreamed of. Mint Vinetu. Complete with high bookshelves and a pleasant owner who served chai tea, Mint Vinetu is a book-nerd’s dream. There is a small golden retriever puppy that trails around, saying hello to customers, and plenty of small nooks and crannies to curl up in with a good read. There went 2 books and 3 hours. I quickly had dinner, and returned home with my hosts – often glancing upwards, because the sky was full of fresh snow yet again.
Day 5: Pleasantly surprising journey home
The journey back wasn’t so terrible. My morning had a perfect start as I got to do some fun cooking with the hosts – making pizza by hand. And once I had prepared myself for the bus ride, expecting the worst – I actually ended up having the best. 8 protein bars, 2 bottles of water, armed with Fahrenheit 451 and 34 Book Riot Podcasts, I was in heaven. So bus rides, I’m over it. And I’m now obsessed with this new Podcast.
So roundup message of the trip? Because there’s always one… Probably that I’ve developed a taste for traveling alone, and that I’m starting to like books a bit too much… because when I’m not reading, I’m listening to things all about books. But that’s a-okay in my book! Enjoy and Tschuess.