So, where to go next after Central Asia? Most flights from Almaty depart for China, India, or Russia. We couldn’t go back to China because we only had single-entry visas. Same thing with India (and Steve pretty much vetoed that idea haha). Steve also needed to head back to Canada for a friend’s wedding in a few weeks. For a bunch of reasons, we decided to head to…Lithuania!
Lithuania is a Baltic country in Northern Europe between Poland, Latvia, Belarus, and Kaliningrad (Russia). It is a very modern country with influences from Russia, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe. The Baltic region was on both our bucket lists so it ended up working perfectly.
We spent a week in the capital city of Vilnius so that I could dedicate more time to my freelance work and Steve could keep studying for the GMAT, which he was planning to take later in the trip.
During our down time, we had a chance to explore all the narrow and winding streets of the Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Not only is it a well-preserved Medieval town, it is quite large (~3.5 square kilometres) and has a mix of different architectural styles.
With the old defensive walls of the town still intact, there are several gates that now allow entry into the Old Town for vehicles.
The Republic of Užupis is a neighbourhood in Vilnius that is known for its artistic, bohemian history and atmosphere. The streets are filled with art installations, murals, and artisan shops along the Vilnia River. The neighbourhood even has its own Constitution, which you can read on the Užupis “embassy” website.
I found one of my favourite print artists at a little shop in Užupis, Kotryna Zukauskaite. She sells online so I will definitely be putting up some of her work in our new house.
Other examples of the interesting mix of architectural styles were in the beautiful Gothic and Orthodox designs at various churches in the city.
We celebrated my 34th birthday in Vilnius, which started off with a torrential downpour, by getting the.best.doughnuts I’ve ever had at a cafe just around the corner from our Air BnB. We also tried to go to the Museum of Illusions (I love these!) but when we got there, it had been flooded because of the rain! We didn’t let it put a damper on our spirits and still were able to explore the town on foot when it cleared up a bit.