Arrival in Vilnius
Well, the bus ride from Riga to Vilnius was amazingly uneventful, given our previous experiences in the Baltics with some dare devil drivers . It took four hours to make the journey, and the bus had all the modern conveniences including WiFi , and a bus attendant offering food and drinks for sale. Nice touch for less than €10 each. Lots cheaper and more convenient than flying.
Vilnius is the Capital of Lithuania and its largest city. The population is just over 500K, but feels much smaller to me. We got a cab from the airport to our apartment, and wondered in route how we would like our new place. It was incredibly inexpensive – about half of the price of the apartments we had in Riga and Tallinn. Opening the door we saw that the apartment had hand-made “folk-style” furniture, wooden statuettes, and lovely bamboo floors, and we instantly felt at home. Take a look at a few photos of the interior.
Our apartment was located in Old Town, right in the middle of Užupis. Clay is going to write a separate section describing this unique region. Our apartment is a very quiet place with an inside private courtyard. Away from the street, it provides us with a cool and quiet place to sleep – even with all the windows open. Below are a few photos from the courtyard. In the first photo, the front door to the stairway leading to our 2nd floor apartment is on the right. The second photo shows the way we exit the courtyard, via the small gate on the far right. We do not have a car, nor do we want one.
Food on our Minds
As soon as we unpacked for our week’s stay in Vilnius we immediately headed to the local grocery store just down the street. We are getting good at grocery lists for short stays, I might add. We usually eat out only once per day to try and control food costs so breakfast is almost always at “home”.
Eating out our first night in Vilnius, we decided to go traditional and find a local restaurant which served what was advertised as “traditional” Lithuanian food. Cepelinai, probably the most traditional of all Lithuanian food, is a potato-based dumpling. Besides potatoes, locals eat a lot of beets, rye bread, berries, mushrooms, and greens. One of the most famous restaurants of this type was the Forto dvaras restaurant. Of course I had to have the potato dumplings (photo on left), while Clay chose the grated potato pancakes with bacon (right) – kind of like his mother used to make, but bacon wasn’t part of her recipe. Check our main courses out below.
Of course, Clay had to have a little fun with the wild mushroom soup that both of us ordered as a starter. Clay finished his soup first, and proceeded to eat the bread on the bottom and make a fool of himself, I might add. (Can’t take him anywhere!)
You probably noticed the stone walls of the restaurant. We ate in the basement of the building, which was built in the 16th century. With the candles it is a very romantic place to dine (except when Clay ruins the atmosphere with his rye spy glass). Check out the stone arches throughout the basement.
Enough about food, it’s time to hear from Clay and what he thinks of the unique place that we’re staying in.