Apr152016

More impressions of Vilnius, Lithuania

Travel articles I found indicated few negative comments from travelers about Vilnius, Lithuania. The city ranks high for health and safety, low for cost of living, and near the lowest priced place in Europe for hotel rates.

My first indication of the cost of living in Vilnius was the 1 EUR bus fare from Vilnius VNO Airport to city center, about 15 minutes ride. My first language lesson in Lithuanian came at the airport when I saw a recycling bin.

VNO recycle bin

Vilnius Airport recycling looked more advanced than typical California airports. We observed Vilnius has very clean streets, despite the amount of graffiti on buildings. I told Kelley she would find the graffiti in Berlin far worse.

Most of the graffiti was simple tagging, but there were some artistic street art gems.

Vilnius street art

Physical graffiti   Vilnius tags

Vilnius street art-tags

The tagging catches the eye, but look at the clean streets of Vilnius. The last photo was outside a building construction site.

White Nights in Vilnius

One of the striking differences between Vilnius and other cities I have visited in Europe the past couple years is the lack of racial diversity. Over six days the only black people we saw were in the airport. We only saw one woman tourist who appeared to be Muslim with a head scarf. There were a handful of Asians we saw during the week, primarily tourists is tourist places.

Lithuania is filled with white people and lots of people with very fair skin. On a walk through Vingas Park there were a high percentage of Nordic blonde women with blonde children, however, walking around the city revealed more people had darker hair, and some people had the blackest of black hair. Yet, even the dark haired people tended to have very fair skin color. Reminded me of Irish.

In contrast, Stockholm has a high percentage of Muslim residents. Even in rural parts of Norway I encountered a high proportion of Muslim and African residents. From what I have read in the news, there is tension between the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, along with Poland and Czech Republic over EU refugee quotas. Seems to me, these countries may not necessarily want to become more ethnically and racially diverse. Kind of reminded me how I felt so little racial tension when I moved to Vermont 35 years ago compared to life in California.

Bernardinai Garden

Bernardinai Garden is a public park beside the Vilnia River.

One of the architectural features present around Vilnius, particularly in the Old Town, are gateways in walls along the street that open up into a ‘close’. I use the word ‘close’ from the meaning I learned on a trip to Edinburgh where the residents have their own courtyard space off the street and houses share a common area separate from the public streets.

Vilnius Close

Vilnius cobbled street

My street photos shown here are street scenes from the non-tourist focal spots of Vilnius. Tourist photos of beautiful Vilnius sites are easily found on the web.

Vilnius Old Town view

Vilnius Old Town view from the Bastion hill.

Most of our walking time was spent in Vilnius Old Town. There is also a modern business district filled with skyscrapers and interesting architecture. We did not wander around that part of the city much.

Vilnius Theater

I tried to talk Kelley into attending a 4 hour 30 minute Dostoevsky play at the Lithuanian National Drama Theater. The Russian novelist Dostoevsky traveled through Vilnius one time and there are still reminders of that in the city.

I missed out on that bit of Lithuanian culture.

Vilnius skyline

The tallest white building on left is Radisson Blu Lietuva Vilnius.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. “From what I have read in the news, there is tension between the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, along with Poland and Czech Republic over EU refugee quotas.”

    Remembering that the Soviet Union invaded and controlled these countries for well over 50 years, there is understandably real sensitivity (understatement!) to foreign invasions. The Soviets moved their citizens in massive quantities into the 3 Baltic countries in an attempt to gain a Soviet citizen majority in each country. Each of these countries are still trying to re-gain their national identity. A Muslim invasion must appear very threatening to them —

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