So, does anyone here know where Vilnius is? If not, you should go back to your Geography class. Vilnius is actually one of the smaller capitals of Europe, being the capital city of Lithuania. I had a chance to visit this quite likable and amazing city back in November last year. Lithuania was my 43rd country to visit, having spent a quick weekend there.
See, back in October, we were chilling at home, when we suddenly realized that our anniversary was coming up, so we decided to spontaneously do a weekend outside of Berlin. We both sat in front of our laptops, and checked whether there were deals and interesting cheap places to go within Europe for a weekend. Say, depart Friday after work and come back Sunday evening. About an hour and a half later, we convinced ourselves that Vilnius would be a good choice, as both of us haven't been there yet.
So on Friday, November 13, we were in Berlin Tegel Airport ready to board an AirBaltic flight to Vilnius. It's always an exciting event for me, flying to a new country. I have a little bit of an idea what to expect, but frankly, I simply don't know what the area is like until I have been there. It is definitely a different feeling compared to when I fly to a destination I have already been to before.
Anyway, we touched down in the evening, and easily found the bus that would take us from the airport to the hotel. Once we checked in and dropped off our bags, we immediately went to the center of town to find a place to eat. We eventually ended up in a Korean restaurant, after remarking that Vilnius, for a city its size, actually has a very good international restaurant scene.
Aside from strolling around the very well-illuminated Old Town that night, we didn't do anything else, as it was quite late. So we went back to our hotel, only to learn of the attacks that happened in Paris that night. To be honest, it was a weird feeling, as we have done a weekend trip to Paris before, and actually was considering going to Paris that weekend. I suppose Vilnius won because neither of us have been to Lithuania before, so we wanted something different. But it was still a weird feeling knowing that our weekend could have been different, and not for the better.
The next day was a Saturday, and we opted to explore the whole Old Town. The Old Town isn't a large area, it could be done in two days, but it was so interesting that we honestly didn't have the time to see everything. We walked all over the place, checking out the Vilnius University courtyards, the churches, the neighborhoods, Gediminas Hill, the fortresses, and plenty of other places. For lunch, we found this delightful French bistro (I told you the international restaurant scene in Vilnius was blooming) which offered a very tasty foie gras, and for dinner, we opted to go to this interesting Lithuanian restaurant, which we made a reservation for the night before. In this restaurant, we opted to eat rare game meat, such as quail and beaver.
Sunday was our last day. After checking out, we left our light bags in the hotel and opted to go back to the main square of the Old Town, because we wanted to visit the National Museum. It was an expansive place, and it took us a couple of hours learning about the history of Lithuania (I didn't realize that Lithuania was the last pagan country in Europe). After that museum visit, we went back to our hotel and picked up our bags, as it was already time to head back to the airport to catch our flight back to Berlin.
Overall it was a very interesting weekend. I had very positive impressions about Vilnius, and I would definitely consider coming back again and explore the surrounding countryside as well, as Vilnius after all is just one part of Lithuania.
Pictures, of course, will follow, so stay tuned!