Thursday, September 1, 2016

Homeward bound

Our last night in Vilnius was one of the best. We had dinner for two in an upmarket and modern restaurant. We were aware that the next morning would be our final sightseeing and after that we would be homeward bound.

                                                      The lights go out on Vilnius!

Our dinner was excellent. Great cheese platter and wonderful mains. No dumplings!

For our final morning we visited lots of churches. Seem to remember that there are 48 or was that in Riga. We started at the Presidential Palace. As we approached we thought..fancy putting a bus depot right in front of the palace! There was a ceremony about to start and the President was giving a bus to each of 40 different schools. There were schoolkids in special dress and lots of fun. Some Australian Premiers could adopt this model!

                                        The dignitaries mingled.We nearly ended up with a bus!

                                                              Balloons and Bands

                                View of the Palace from the University courtyard

Finally we returned to near our hotel and for only the second time returned to a restaurant for another meal. We started with a cheese platter again as it was just the best!

It was a long flight. Our departure in Vilnius was delayed and we had hours to wait in Helsinki. When we arrived in Singapore our bags were delayed by the severity of an electrical storm.

It is next morning and out time is only 2 hours ahead of those in Eastern Australia. We have morning tea with a friend and tickets to the Qantas lounge so the wait for our final flight will be painless. We are back in Australia on Saturday morning. Till our next trip!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


We have explored Vilnius over the past three days. There are 48 churches but will not put on three photos of each. There are lots of restaurants, cafes and bars and we have tried most! The most popular food in Lithuania today is actually pizza.We settled for the more traditional foods.

 The St Anna's  church with the brick Baroque face and on the right the Bernardine Church. These are close to our apartment.

The gardens of Bernadine Park. We are between these and the Cathedral Square where all the best restaurants are located.

              The wall in Literatu Street with plaques from authors, poets and artists.

                                                         One of the plaques on the wall.

                                       The Bastion of the Vilnius defensive walls.

                                            The Cathedral Bell Tower. We climbed to the top.

                       The view from the top to the Cathedral and beyond that to Gedminas Tower.

                                                          The view the other way.

         The Stebuklas tile. In 1989 an estimated 2 million people from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania formed a continuous human chain across the 3 Baltic countries to protest Soviet occupation. This marks one end.

                      The most famous Lithuanian dish. We shared these potato dumplings!

                                                      So that you will know what to order!

The Republic of Uzupio

Up to now we had only visited two new countries but an unscheduled visit to Uzupio added a third.
Uzupio is located within the city of Vilnius. It has 7000 residents, 1000 of whom are artists and boasts a special constitution that could become a model for our troubled world.

                                                                  Rob at the border.

We kept to the entry rules. We smiled a lot even when it rained, we didn't walk over 20 kph, we loved the art and we didn't drive a car into the river.

                                           Gail couldn't work out how to get onto the swing.

                                                      Rob kept to the speed limit.

                                                                   We smiled a lot.

                                           Gail drank like a local. Prosecco and elderberry.

The small community has lots of street sculptures some that don't meet the G rating for the blog! The community tried to be bohemian but didn't fully convince us. The streets were quiet and people far too normal.

The constitution was especially interesting. It was displayed in 25 languages on mirrors along a wall.
Hard to photograph but will put it on as this is the way to go.

There you go another interesting country.

The Castle at Trakai

We are enjoying our time in Vilnius and will do a post soon but as it was a warm sunny day we headed out of town to visit the fairy tale castle at Trakai. It was an easy trip by bus although we did have a 2 km walk at each end

The town itself is very traditional. The houses are made of timber and run down to the lake. There is a series of fresh water lakes with islands and the castles were built around them.

                                       Rob at a wooden sculpture on the way to the castle.

                                                         The lakes were very beautiful.

                                             There were rows of old wooden buildings.

                              We also stopped at a small Russian Orthodox Church on the way.

We finally reached the castle. There have been fortifications on the site since the 11th century but the brick Gothic castle dates from the 14th century and was built as the summer residence for the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. We have lots of castle photos!

                                         No we went by bus and that is not our new yacht.

                                               Gail outside the entry to the castle.

                                         The castle is built around a large courtyard.

                                             Rob at the bridge across the entry moat.

                                                       Can you spot Gail?

There are also many museum style rooms with many interesting exhibits.

       The treasury. Many of the coins were found a few years ago buried in the forests.

                                                                Many treasures.

                                           Rob checking out the vacant throne!

We had a great lunch stop with wonderful views. We had dishes from the Karain minority group. They originally came from Turkey and their religion relates to Judaism.

                                                 The view across the lake.

                                          The view from our lunch table.

                                                                And a local beer!

                                                        A final photo of the castle.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Celebrating in three countries

It was our wedding anniversary today. Our celebrations started when the lap top that tells us the time in Australia clicked over to the 28th. We had a celebratory dinner along with a bottle of Latvian "champagne", even though it was only the 27th here.
When we woke up this morning we celebrated in Riga, Latvia. The highlight of the day was of course the bus trip to Lithuania so tonight, already past the 28th in Australia we celebrated again in our third country.
We did think about where it might still be the 28th but decided to go back to our apartment. We had done enough celebrating for this year!

                                                               Our Baltic sparkling

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A" Rigarous" few days in Riga

We enjoyed our time in Riga with lots to see as we walked the old town. There are not as many must see places but each turn of the cobble stoned road revealed new places. We saw churches and historic buildings, castles and walls along with quaint restaurants and pubs.

                          The Riga Town Hall. Not as grand as the Hansiatic versions.

The most stunning buildings are the House of the Blackheads. These are 14th century guild halls for the unmarried merchants.

                                                            Detail of the facade.

                                                           The old and the new.

                               We explored the Riga underground especially the beer cellars.

                             but we didn't neglect the outdoors. We had fine weather.

Continuing with our explorations we found more historic buildings along with small markets.

                                       The" three brothers" in one of the side streets.

                                                            The Powder Tower.

                                                         Gail at the Swedish Gate.

                                                             Freedom monument.

We visited many churches. The Lutheran cathedral, St Peters with its tall steeple and great views and this one, the Russian Orthodox Pareizticigo Cathedral. Not sure why the tourist map didn't include it!

                                                  Collecting fungi for dinner.

                                                       Trying Latvian produce.

                                     Not sure if I am game to put a caption on this!