Most tourists probably have very little knowledge of the small country of Lithuania, the most southerly of the three Baltic nations including Latvia and Estonia. The country has a population of about 3 million and is a member of the European Union. All three Baltic nations use the euro currency.
This is my third trip in three years to Lithuania and some interesting aspects of the country stick out to me as an American tourist. Here are five observations from Lithuania that caught my attention.
Basketball is the most popular sport in Lithuania.
We sought out a bar in Kaunas to watch the opening World Cup Russia 2018 football (soccer) match only to find every bar and restaurant showing a basketball game between Zalgiris (Kaunas team) and Lietuvos Rytas (Vilnius team). Fortunately the game was only four 10-minute quarters and Zalgiris won in time for the last 30 minutes of the Russia-Saudi Arabia match.
The guy sitting next to me was probably in his mid-40s and a local from Kaunas. He told us about the two black American players on the Zalgiris team and how Zalgiris won bronze last month in the European League Championship.
A couple days later we were in a restaurant talking to a young Lithuanian waitress who found it interesting we were visiting Klaipeda. She was 22 years old and a university student in landscape architecture. She expressed an interest in visiting California some day.
I mentioned to her how the Grateful Dead sponsored the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic team with tie-dyed jerseys. That is when she told us she is only 22 and did not know that history and was not familiar with the Grateful Dead.
Women in Lithuania wear long hair
The typical Lithuanian woman under 30 is likely sporting at least 18 inches of long straight hair. Women with 30 or more inches of hair is not uncommon to see when walking the mile long pedestrian street in Kaunas. Braided long hair is a common sight too.
The prevalence of women with really long hair motivated me to type ‘Lithuania long hair’ in Google and discover Kaunas holds an annual longest hair competition.
And nearly everyone in Lithuania has some shade of blue eyes.
Store hours signs
I found it interesting how easy it is to tell store hours by the sign symbols used on the doors and windows.
White storks are prevalent in summer around the Lithuania countryside
White storks of Lithuania is another post I wrote this week.
NATO and US troops on the Russian Front
During the basketball game in Kaunas the former Russian soldier introduced us to the guy sitting on the other side of him, an American soldier. This is my third trip to Lithuania in three years and every trip I have encountered U.S. military.
On the bus trip from Kaunas to Klaipeda we passed a U.S. military convoy on the freeway. I know they were U.S. soldiers since one of the guys standing up on a military vehicle had an American flag patch and a very common American last name on his fatigues.
War games were played out this month in Lithuania in what is not really a game on the Russian Front.
Recent news reports speculate Russia is preparing military sites for nuclear weapons in the Kaliningrad Oblast only a one to two hours drive from Lithuania’s major cities of Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipeda.