Man patinka Lietuva

I like Lithuania – a visitor's point of view


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Beer restaurant on Gedimino pr. in Vilnius …. plus ça change

One of the first restaurants we visited in Vilnius over 10 years ago was the beer restaurant on Gedimino pr. not far from the cathedral square. You couldn’t miss it with the statue in the entrance. Was it the pagan beer goddess Ragutiene?

You had to go down the steps, past the microbrewery paraphernalia on your left to enter the main room with smaller side rooms off to the left where we preferred to eat, usually at lunch time.

Not only did it serve a great range of beer from its microbrewery but also good food including beer soup!

 

We also liked the ambience with all the beer posters on the walls in the side room.

The main room is big and one evening we were there hosted a NATO conference meal for delegates at the Lietuva Hotel (now Radisson Blue) along the riverside (somewhere we used to stay until we found the Shakespeare Hotel in the Old Town). I’ve never seen so many top brass, gold braid and fancy hats.

There are so many restaurants to choose from in Vilnius so we don’t notice until a few years later that it had changed its name to Prie Katedros i.e. near the cathedral. Fortunately it was still serving the same kind of food and beer.

 

 

Then last year a new sign appeared: “Craft and Draft” obviously cashing in on the demand for craft beer. And all the signage was in English, a trend I noticed in a few places in the city.

I also noticed the statue had disappeared – perhaps too raunchy for the artisans crafting the beer. A shame really and I didn’t get a chance to check if the food is still as good. Perhaps next time?

 

My earlier posts on beer


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A splash of colour in the relentless rain

As a Lancastrian I’m used to the rain, the murkiness and the ever-present dampness that served the cotton industry so well. I’m just not used to it in Lithuania!

Give me cold, snow and ice any day but not the relentless rain my colleague and I endured on our last visit.

Amongst it all however I noticed that the brightly coloured seats were still present on Gedimino (now bright red and without sponsorship) and also at the VCUP (Vilniaus Centrinė Universalinė Parduotuvė) shopping centre, where they had been relocated from the terrace.

p1030973p1030966 p1030965

Nice to see the Happy seats are still there. They brightened up my day!


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Coffee shops on every corner

p1030939The first thing I noticed in the centre of Vilnius and the Old Town was the abundance of coffee shops.

They are on every street corner, often opposite each other. Probably more coffee shops than churches.

A few years ago one opened in the Europa shopping centre, Double- Coffee I think it was called but it didn’t last. Times have changed.

p1000774When I lived in Kaunas for a while I got to like Vero Cafe which later arrived in Vilnius. It reminds me of Costa at home in the UK. The one at the end of Gedimino is still there which is where I went for my first cup.

p1030950I was asked if I wanted Brazilian or Indonesian coffee and I realised that they now sold Orang Utang organic coffee – just like the coffee they sell in my favourite coffee shop back home in Burnley Lancashire.

And there is now one at the bottom of Pilies g. near Bernardiniu g. en route to our hotel the Shakespeare.

I vaguely remembered that there used to be a nice wine bar in the vicinity and wondered if this was the same place. However they told me it hadn’t been a wine bar latterly.

Undaunted I went into the back room and checked out the vaulted ceiling – and it was the same place.p1030940

p1000849And there’s a Coffee Inn directly opposite, although I didn’t sample their coffee because of the long queue (was that a good sign or just poor service?).

If you walk towards Gedimino there is another where a bank used to be on the corner, opposite Vero Cafe.

p1000889Walk back and a little further up Pilies g. and there’s a coffee shop in the bookshop on the left with a nice wall display as a backdrop.

Vilnius isn’t short of good coffee shops that’s for sure. And wine bars too, but that’s another story.

PS Coffee is good for you


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Craft Beer taking over the world?

Before I returned to Vilnius after a two-year gap my colleague Terry warned me that our hotel, The Shakespeare,  had changed its draught beer. He discovered on his solo trip last year that there was no more Svyturys Extra! He was not a happy man.

p1030981When we arrived this time I ordered a glass of the new beer, Raudonu Plytu (Red Bricks), and it wasn’t bad.

p1040011-1Interesting brick shaped beer mat with a whimsical; reference to the “hops wanting to do their best for you” on the back.

Turns out it’s brewed in Klaipeda at the Lighthouse brewery owned by Carlsberg. (NB Lighthouse = Svyturys). And the hotel still has Svyturys Baltas in bottles, which we also like, so not a totally lost cause.

Later in the week we went to our favourite steakhouse, Markus ir Ko, where they didn’t previously serve Svyturys, and we were also served with the Red Brick beer.

p1030972p1030970And wandering around town one of our previous haunts,the beer restaurant on Gedimino pr., which has changed names a couple of times, is now advertising itself as a craft beer venue.

Back home in my local Tesco there is now a range of craft beers, including one from America, which is surprisingly good (as I tend to think of American beer as watery and weak). I’ve tried a couple of them starting with the American Goose 312 wheat beer and the IPA and have just bought some to pass on to my colleague Terry.p1040033

p1040009-1We still like our Lithuanian beer when we can get it – often by circuitous routes and Polish shops.

Time for a bottle I think!


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Show of solidarity with Ukraine

I was walking down Gedimino pr and noticed that the Marks & Spencer store was flying two flags. The national flags of Lithuania and of Ukraine, two former soviet republics.DSC00097

As a Brit with friends in both countries I was quite proud of M & S doing this.


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Happy seats lose sponsorship

When I first saw these seats on Gedimino Avenue they were bright yellow; then they were covered in sponsors’ labels and painted a mix of bright colours. Now they are just bright red. Are they happier now?DSC00200

And then a couple of days later I saw these brightly covered seats on the lower terrace at the VCup shopping centre on Konstitucijos pr.. Vilnius seems to like happy seats.DSC00341

 


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St George and the Dragon in Vilnius?

DSC01344Walking along Gedimino pr. I looked up (always a good thing when you’re out taking photographs) and there was a statue of our Patron Saint St George slaying the dragon. It’s on the roof of Gedimino 20 where Marks and Spencer is now situated but that hardly seemed a reason for having this statue.

When I researched it the answer was straightforward. It’s the site of the former George Hotel built by architect Tadeušas Rostvorovskis between 1893 and 1895. In 1893 Gedimino pr. was called St George’s Avenue.

DSC01021The hotel was renamed the Vilnius Hotel during the soviet period. I’m not sure when the avenue was named Gedimino pr. but it was reconstructed in 2003 to celebrate the 750th jubilee of King Mindaugas.

I remember that they were still completing the far end near the parliament buildings when I first visited in 2005.

First posted in July 2013