My time in Vilnius was not as long as Riga due to a schedule change that happened a few months before I left - I originally planned to be in Vilnius from Tuesday morning to Friday. Ukrainian Airlines changed made some schedule changes and I didn’t like how late I would be arriving in Paris on Friday so I asked for a refund and I GOT ONE, no questions asked. Ukrainian Airlines has amazing customer service.
So then I started thinking about what I wanted to do and if I wanted to go anywhere different and new - I didn’t want to put my friends out by adding an extra night to Paris. I ended up leaving late Thursday morning and headed to Amsterdam with plans to take the Thalys train to Paris from Amsterdam on Friday and arrive in the evening. But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself so I can’t forget to talk about wonderful Vilnius.
My first day in the city I was extremely tired. I already mentioned that in a previous post but I had plans to take it easy. I wandered around the city in the morning, exploring Old Town, popping in and out of tourist shops and just getting lost. Oh, how I got lost! Every street in Vilnius is very winding, and at every turn or slight turn, the street name seemed to change! I got off course so many times that I began to get frustrated with myself but then just let it go. I visited the University belltower and climbed to the top for the views. Then I wandered towards Gediminas hill and tower and hiked to the top of that for a completely different viewpoint. I always recommend going to the highest spot in a city for views, bonus points if they’re outside and even better if there is more than one viewpoint and you visit a couple. After the long walk and hill climbing, I unknowingly walked back in the direction of my Airbnb and found a spot for lunch.
I should mention that I passed an Uzbek place that I really wanted to try because I don’t even know what Uzbek food is and I like new experiences. However, I was nervous to try it because I was worried about people speaking English in there, what the cuisine would be and it was all just silly. In hindsight, I should have gone in and just tried it and had a new experience. I found a delicious restaurant called Jurgis ir drakonas - serving Neopolitan style pizza - and it really hit the spot. While I’m sad I missed out on Uzbek food, the pizza was really delicious and satisfying. The server spoke English well - and didn’t immediately speak English to me - and it was filled with people on their Tuesday lunch break. I ate an entire pizza myself because breakfast was so small and long ago. I tried a Lithuanian cherry beer (a kriek) and it was so delicious, both tart and sweet and satisfying.
After a leisurely lunch, I set off for the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, which was not that long of a walk from Jurgis. I would like to mention that they tried to give me the student discount, score, and I found this museum small, informative, and very well-done. It packed a lot of information and feelings into a small space. You can read a bit of the history here. I spent about an hour and a half at this museum - I don’t think you need more than 2 hours - my tiredness put me on the express track before realizing I was two blocks from the apartment. I enjoyed learning and seeing at that museum but I had to TAKE A NAP or drop dead from exhaustion. This day marked the turning point in my sleep on this trip. I napped for 2 solid hours that afternoon with my alarm pre-set for 5 pm so that I could wake up and go find some dinner to stay on a normal schedule. That nap was so necessary and did me so much good. I woke up so refreshed, in a better mood, and ready to find an authentic Lithuanian restaurant for my dinner.
More to come tomorrow.