Man patinka Lietuva

I like Lithuania – a visitor's point of view


Keeping your feet warm

I’ve been to Lithuania several times in the Winter and the weather is fine for me, even with deep snow. It doesn’t have that damp coldness we have in North West England.

(For history buffs the damp is why it was perfect for the cotton industry when Lancashire dominated the world with its cotton mills, But that’s another story).

I’d read in one of the Sunday newspaper magazines about felt boots but never seen any. Then there I was shopping in Stiklių street when I saw a felt shop. They had everything made of felt, clothes, handbags, and boots!

So I tried on a pair and bought them. They weren’t cheap – 260 liras – but probably what you’d have to pay for some decent weatherproof shoes or a pair of good trainers.

P1010630 P1010633I wore them in the house that Winter (they have a rubberised sole so you could wear them outdoors) and was toasty warm and I’ve worn them each Winter since. And it’s time to get them out again.

I went back on my next visit to buy some more but the shop had moved, to be replaced by the Mamma Mia delicatessen.

FYI Felt is cloth made from sheep’s wool which has  excellent thermal properties and has been used for centuries (apparently the earliest example of a felt article is from Asia in 600 BC).


Silver Craftsman in Vilnius

DSC01217Lithuania and the Baltic region is famous for amber but you won’t find any in the terra recognita galerija on Stiklių street in the old town.

What you will find is fine silver work combined with local stones from the Baltic area.

DSC01197DSC01205The larger-than-life silversmith and proprietor Saulius Vaitiekunas was happy to invite me in and show me around his silver-themed gallery.

DSC01210DSC01211As you can see from the glass cases there are many small items combining stone or flint and silver but it was the larger pieces which caught my eye.

DSC01213Most of these are not for sale but exhibition pieces.

The items for sale are not cheap but you are paying for unique pieces superbly crafted.

So if you want something special you know where to go!DSC01198


Boff gives Markus a run for its money in the steak stakes

P1010267Last time I was in Vilnius in June I heard there was a new steak house worth visiting. As you may know my favourite steak house is Markus ir Ko on M. Antokolskio g. just off Stiklių g. so I had to compare.

The new place is called böff. The name is a play on words. It’s obviously not a Lithuanian name as it contains an umlaut but if you pronounce it as a German word it sounds like boeuf, the french word for beef.

Anyway enough of the wordplay what is it like? It’s across the river from the Cathedral on Olimpiečių 1 and you can see it from the castle. Just look across the river for two large boulders and there it is.DSC01291

As it was a Friday evening I’d booked in advance which was just as well as it was pretty full and they were turning people away.

P1010261I had a table near the front of the restaurant which is basically a big square room with a mixture of table sizes for couples and larger groups.

The staff were very attentive and spoke good English so a good start.

P1010257As was the tray of breads and olives they gave me to whet my appetite.

P1010256The menu wasn’t huge but it covered everything you might need in a steakhouse and they had a decent wine selection.


I decided to start with a salmon wrap – a bit unusual for me . I’m not a big fan of wraps but it was was OK.

P1010262I followed that with an Angus fillet steak, medium rare,  with fries and green beans.

They offered me a sauce with the steak which I thought I’d try but it wasn’t spicy or peppery enough for my taste.

But the steak was really great as was the Malbec wine.

P1010266What more could you want? Well in my case a dish of ice cream to finish. I do like Lithuanian ice cream.

The whole meal cost me 139 Litas which I thought was good value for money by UK standards  ( I just paid 230 Litas for a similar meal in Birmingham, England). The service was very good especially considering how busy it was.

I’ll recommend it my colleague who is visiting next month and get his opinion.

Is it better than Markus? Well I think the steaks are equally as good judging by my one visit to böff and the service is better than at Markus.

But for all that I think I’ll stick to Markus. The fillet mignon there is wonderful (and so big we’ve had to downsize to the medium serving. Markus does generous portions). And despite the rudimentary level of customer service it has a good atmosphere especially when the jazz pianists are performing.

At  böff it’s noisy but for me there is no atmosphere as everyone is in one big room and I prefer something with  a bit more character like Markus or La Boheme.

Markus ir Ko is also close to Stiklių g. and the wine bar Notre Vie is just on the corner opposite, ideal for a nightcap to round off the night.


Mamma Mia in Vilnius

DSC01075A couple of years ago I bought a pair of felt boots in a shop on Stiklių  St in Vilnius.

The shop sold clothes, hats, and bags – all made from felt.

The hats and bags were amazing but the boots caught my eye as I had read about them in a magazine at home. So I bought a pair and when Winter came back in England they kept my feet as warm as toast as we Brits say.

The next year I went back planning to buy a pair for my partner but the shop had gone to be replaced by a delicatessen and coffee shop called Mamma Mia.

DSC01089I went in to have a look around and have a cup of coffee. The decor was modern and the staff welcoming and there was a wonderful selection of food and gifts and a good selection of wine.DSC01090

Unfortunately you could only by the wine by the bottle, until now.

I went back in June and chatting to Lainona (who owns the business with Martynas and who  you can just see in the bottom photograph) discovered they had got their licence to serve wine by the glass just that week.DSC01083

That was very welcome news as there’s nothing nicer than a glass of Sauvignon Blanc on a hot Summer’s day. This is definitely on my list of places to drop into on my next visit.



Spoilt for choice on Stiklių Street

DSCF1332Tourists might associate this street with the Jewish ghetto which was destroyed in 1941 whilst Lithuania was under Nazi occupation.

However the name refers to the glassblowers who worked and sold their wares there in the 15th and 16th centuries.

You can see them in the painting above the entrance to the Stikliai hotel (I’ve never seen many people inside the hotel but it seems to be popular with visiting dignitaries. You’ll know when you see all the top-end Mercs parked outside with the drivers and minders hanging about).

There is still a glass artist’s studio on the street but there are also lots of eating and drinking places!

To get there you can walk up between Vilnius University and the Presidential Palace or walk up Pilies g. onto Didžioji g. and turn right at the fountain at the bottom of the town hall square (Rotušės aikštė).

On the left hand side you have the Lokys steakhouse with an eating area outside. You can’t miss the wooden bear!DSCF1487

DSC01075Almost opposite you have Mamma Mia, a new and classy delicatessen, coffee shop and wine bar which also sells bottles of wine and gifts.

DSC01079Walking past the hotel straight ahead at the junction of Stiklių g. and Žydų g. is Poniu Laime a wonderful coffee and cake shop (owned by the Stikliai hotel) which is reminiscent of an Austrian coffee shop, a little old-fashioned but very popular with locals (The name means a lady’s pleasure).P1010065

DSC01076On your immediate left there is a wine bar Notre Vie with a good selection of wine and where you can also get food. It’s a popular meeting place later in the evening.SAM_0281

CNV00041 You’re also at the entrance to M. Antokolskio g. on your left. And there is the best steakhouse in town, Markus ir Ko. Service is rudimentary (all male staff) but they have filet mignon to die for and on some nights a jazz pianist.

In the Summer you can sit out in the street. You need to book a table.

Further up the street is Rene, a Belgian restaurant which gets fresh fish twice a week. Not a place I’ve eaten at but the staff seem courteous and friendly.

If instead of turning left to Markus you carry on down Stiklių g. you come to another great restaurant Bistro 18.  My colleague and I have eaten there several times. He’s a big fan and often he’ll go there and I go to Markus and we meet up in Notre Vie.

I’m still waiting for him to write a review he knows it so well!CNV00100

There’s something for everyone in this part of the Old Town.