Man patinka Lietuva

I like Lithuania – a visitor's point of view


Bars we have loved and lost – Lola’s Bar

There was a definite something about Lola’s bar which led me to it most nights I was in Vilnius a few years ago. Just off the Old Town on L.Stokuos-Guceviciaus g.

The slightly shabby chic decor with hand written letters from South America, the mis-matched furniture, the decent wine and the pineapple carpaccio!

And the owners were very hospitable. Saule and Indre always looked after us very well.

While my colleague was off at the opera or the theatre refreshing his high-brow tastes I was hanging out in this bar with a bottle of good red wine listening to the music waiting for him to join me.

Oh that playlist: I remember Ray Charles, Cab Calloway (singing Minnie the Moocher which you might remember from the Blues Brothers film) and the neo-tango Spanish/Argentinian collaboration called Otros Aires.

Then he would come in to enjoy the rest of the evening and more wine before we staggered back to our hotel, The Shakespeare, for a final nightcap.

But when we returned on our our next visit in June 2013 we found it was no more! It was being redeveloped as a boutique!






Musical footnote:

Otros Aires say it is “an electronic-archeological project created between Barcelona and Buenos Aires airports.  It mixes the first tangos and milongas (fast tangos but also used to describe places where these are danced) records of the beginning of the last century with electronic sequences, melodies and words of the 21st century”

Read more about them here at Otros Aires.


Musical statues in Kaunas

I lived in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city, for 5 weeks in 2008 and saw these statues, among a number of others, on a grass plot next to a block of flats in  V. Putvinskio g. opposite the  Žmuidzinavičius Museum, commonly known as the Devils’ Museum  (Velnių muziejus).


Frank Zappa statue in Vilnius

CNV00018_3One of the first things I looked for on my first trip to Vilnius in 2005 was the bust of Frank Zappa, the American guitarist and composer of such tunes as “Absolutely Free”, “Peaches en regalia”, and “We’re only in it for the money”, who died in 1993.

He wasn’t Lithuanian and as far as I know never visited the country but was admired for his anti-establishment views during soviet times.

A group of music lovers (depends on your taste in music) led by Saulius Paukstys lobbied parliament to get a statue erected.

They then raised funds to have this bust made by sculptor Konstantinas Bogdanas, a man  previously known for his social realist depictions of Lenin and other communist leaders.

The bust was originally planned to be placed outside the Vilnius Art School but it ended up on K. Kalinausko g. where you could easily miss it.

When I took these photos there was the painted backdrop (not sure that’s still there but I’ll check on my next visit). FYI a fellow blogger aBitofCulture, has told  me it was still there in 2012. See his post on Vilnius



Street Music in Vilnius

DSCF1131You don’t see that many street musicians, or buskers as we call them in the UK, around in Vilnius. But here are a couple of them (right) outside the Europa Centre on Konstitucijos pr. with an unusual combination of instruments.

DSCF1628The most popular site is on Pilies g. (Castle St) the cobbled street that wends its way from near the cathedral square up to the town hall. (Keep walking up the main street and you come to to the last remaining perimeter gate , the gates of Dawn, from the days when Vilnius was a walled city).

That was where this couple (left) were performing, next to the little outdoor market, singing Russian folk songs.

I asked them why they were singing Russian songs. They said their parents were Russian speaking and that Lithuanian folk songs were too sad. They were kind enough to sing a Ukrainian folk song that friends in Ukraine had taught me.

P1010487 - Version 2This girl singer/guitarist was also playing near the outdoor market but struggling to capture an audience.

Whereas this vocal ensemble, performing Manhattan Transfer songs, lower down Pilies g. opposite the 17c bell tower (the highest point in the old town giving you fantastic panoramic views), captivated tourists with their enthusiasm and well- rehearsed harmony singing..DSCF1073

This young violinist was also playing on Pilies g. lower down  at the cathedral end.DSCN1078

DSCF1337Finally this one (below) is not strictly a street musician as he was performing in the Shakespeare Hotel bar  – but I thought he looked cool!

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Rock band on tour t-shirt

DSCF1136Shopping in the Europa Centre in Vilnius I spotted this t-shirt advertising a 1978 rock tour by the Riot Starters (not sure if it’s a real group or an X-box thing).

What caught my eye was the tour itinerary of UK towns. Big cities like Liverpool, Newcastle, London, Southampton, Northampton, Norwich, Manchester, Torquay, Dover and … Burnley!

Burnley is a small town in Lancashire in the North-West of England. It’s a former industrial/cotton town, run-down and with unemployment problems. And where I was born!

Sadly it did have race riots in 2001, along with Oldham and Bradford.

Maybe the designer just stuck a pin in a map of the UK.