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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Tastes change in Vilnius

A few years ago I enjoyed visiting “A taste of Lithuania”  (Lietuviškas Skonis) just off the cathedral square near the Amberton Hotel on Odminių g.

It was a family run cafe bar which made very nice fresh food, provided free wi-fi and sold some nice souvenirs. (See my earlier post on it). They also had a shop at Vilnius airport for a while.

Last year when I went it was nowhere to be seen. Now there is a spa and massage parlour in its place.

Whether it will still be there next time I visit is anyone’s guess.


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The view from the cathedral bell tower

It didn’t seem that long ago they were busy renovating the bell tower which stands opposite the cathedral – Vilniaus Šv. Stanislovo ir Šv. Vladislovo arkikatedra basilica – on the edge of the square in the Autumn of 2013.

Twelve months later it was finished and open to the public.

We’d seen the earlier renovation of the cathedral on our early visits from 2005 and this completes the picture.

And it’s been well worth the wait. The tower has 7 levels and 140 steps to climb – so you need a head for heights and to be reasonably agile as there is no lift  as in the university bell tower. There were no guide books available but as its part of the National Museum I can’t imagine there won’t be one in future. And the two helpful members of staff were very knowledgeable.

DSC00112DSC00114As I said there is no lift and your ascent from the entrance lobby starts with a stone staircase leading up to the next level.

DSC00115Once there you can see the small bells. Further up there are six big ones, four of which ring on a regular basis. You can also see the statue of the Grand Duke at eye level here as well.DSC00132

 

DSC00119DSC00150From there on up it’s by well-crafted wooden steps.

DSC00130 DSC00128These take you up to the big bells and great views across the city.DSC00136

Also you are now high enough to look down on the statue of the Grand Duke, not something I thought I would do without going up in a hot-air balloon!

DSC00123 DSC00121DSC00147At the highest level the public can access you can see the workings of the bell mechanism

You are also looking across at the top of the cathedral and can see close-ups of the statues with the castle in the background.DSC00138

 Did I mention you need a head for heights? Well having gone up so high you have to come back down again which gives you a chance to admire the heavy wooden beams which are supporting the floors and the bells as you navigate the wooden steps.

DSC00148DSC00153You can also see the intricate woodwork through a viewing tube on one of the lower floors.

DSC00154Then one last set of steep stone steps and you are back at the lobby area.DSC00155

 

 

A great experience  at a reasonable price and if you are a photographer some great photo opportunities.

 


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And did those feet …. 25 years ago

DSC00066Walking to the end of Gedimino pr towards the cathedral you cross the road and the cathedral bell tower is on your right.DSC00323_copy

Look down and you will see this pair of footprints. They weren’t there last year so I asked the helpful staff from the National Museum who look after the bell-tower visitors what they represented.

They were put there to mark the 25th anniversary of the Baltic Way, the 2 million strong human chain which stretched from Vilnius to Tallinn on August 23rd 1989.

Lithuania has come a long way in those 25 years and it started here.

I’ve blogged about the Baltic way before and my colleague has also done a piece about this too here.

And without giving too much away it’s not too far from the Stebuklas MiracleTile


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Where’s the evidence?

Lithuania underwent a transformation after independence in 1991 and wanted to shake off its former soviet image.

They removed much evidence of the former soviet times but some they kept.

P1000342The statues on the green bridge in Vilnius, fine examples of socialist realism, were kept but other statuary was removed and many pieces ended up in the Grutas Park.

P1000793 P1000801The original three crosses on the hill were pulled down by the soviets and buried but new ones were made and the old ones uncovered and left there with the chains to show the world what had happened.

At the parliament building they have kept part of the barricade they set up to stop tanks entering the parliament building. There are also smaller replicas set out around the building to show the extent of the original barricade.

And not far from the statue of Grand Duke Gediminas in a corner of  the cathedral square is a stone monument celebrating 650 years of Vilnius’s role as capital of Lithuania. If you look closely you can see an oblong recess where they removed the  cyrillic script.

P1000885And while you are in the area look for the the Stebuklas or miracle tile which marks the end of the human wall that stretched from Tallinn to Vilnius in 1989. If you find it stand on it, turn clockwise three times and make a wish!P1000501


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A Chair Just for Me in Vilnius……………..

I couldn’t be there to see it myself …

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

As anyone who has followed my blog will know that I consider the “White Cathedral” in Vilnius, Lithuania to be the most beautiful building in the world (or to give it its official name, Vilniaus Šv. Stanislovo ir Šv. Vladislovo Arkikatedra Bazilika).

Image

Anyway, today I walked from my hotel to the cathedral, crossed the road and then saw a giant chair on the opposite side of the road to the cathedral which provided a splendid view of the front of the cathedral and the tower.

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I then noticed an envelope attached to the chair leg so I opened it and it read “for Mr T Gregory so that he can enjoy the best possible view of his favourite building”, it was of course in Lithuanian and the above is a rough translation. And I thought how considerate the Lithuanians are to provide me with my own personal chair.

So…

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CNN: Vilnius Christmas tree is the world’s most spectacular

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

2013 Christmas tree in Vilnius | DELFI, Photo by Š. Mažeika

CNN has announced the list of top 12 world’s most spectacular Christmas trees, with Vilnius tree named as number one.

CNN writes: “The well-preserved old town in the Lithuanian capital looks like just the sort of place that needs a Christmas tree. Now it’s got one – in fact, at 25 meters, the tallest Christmas tree in the Baltics.

“Well, “tree” – it’s actually a metal skeleton covered with fir tree branches. Lithuanian fir tree branches, though – they’re not made in China,” reports CNN.

The rest of Christmas trees in the world that were named by CNN as the most spectacular are: Lego Christmas tree in Malaysia,  Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York; Galeries Lafayette Christmas tree in Paris; Floating Christmas tree in Rio de Janeiro; National Christmas tree in Washington, D.C.; Brandenburg Gate Christmas tree in Berlin; Macaroon Christmas tree, Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, North Carolina; Umbrella tree…

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