Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Wall Street Of Vilnius

Where does big business go to do its thing in Vilnius? North of the Neris River in a development area of gleaming glass towers and new construction. Old Town is a Unesco World Heritage site, no bulldozing there. Much of the rest of Vilnius is filled with stately old apartment and mixed use blocks, no breaking up the architectural integrity.

Time to head north.

Big companies occupy the buildings, whether cable TV giant TEO or a financial institution, Swedbank. Nice corporate look.
What's an office without an attached modern mall? Yes, in Vilnius!

Old and new, existing together - for now. The future is creeping...

Monday, 28 July 2014

A Little School Cheer

Lithuania can get a bit drab, especially in the long winter. Add in Soviet era architecture and the place can get downright depressing. What to do?

This school has the right idea. Just add a few fake flowers to your window and hope the contrast is great enough to shift the mood. And for summer, augment with the real stuff. Bravo!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Have A Seat By The Neris River In Vilnius

What to do when people gather and sit on the flood plain concrete that lines the Neris River? Dig a bunch of the squares out and replace them with brightly-colored seats. Genius!

The setting, the flood embankment along the river.

If people are going to come sit, let's make accommodations. 

Maybe the seats are left over from an old arena. Maybe it's an art project. It's definitely a good way to have a little riverside fun.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Lithuanian Dance Festival Performance

Imagine taking all the marching bands in Texas, getting them together at the Cotton Bowl and then putting them in some sort of traditional dress. Instead of performing marching numbers, each band does a giant polka or square dance. Now imagine it's all in Lithuanian.

Welcome to a the day of dance at the Lithuanian Song Festival - "Šokių Diena" at "Dainų Šventė." It's been a tradition for decades and is currently held every four years. Luckily, we were here to see it!

Here comes one group, ready with long banners.

The men, dancing furiously in curved lines.

Time for interpretive textiles.

The big finale, all groups on the field at once. Impressive!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Green Bridge, Vilnius

A remnant from the Soviet era can be found spanning the Neris river - the Green Bridge. Originally built in 1536, the bridge got its name from the color it was painted. The current bridge dates from 1952 and features four sets of large "social realist" sculptures.

The bridge.

The sculptures represent Soviet idealizations of perfect citizens of society. Here are students, Youth of Education.

Agriculture and Guarding Peace.
Industry and Construction.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Digging Our Digs In Vilnius

We had a nice apartment in Chennai and have lucked out again in our present post, Vilnius. Government housing isn't government cheese. Ready for a tour?

The living area, a combo of kitchen, dining and living. Cozy, especially come winter.

The first floor entrance area, stairs leading up and down and a small, built in bookcase. Bedroom.

Hello Rabbit, nice of you to make the journey!

Fancy bathroom with claw tub, we'll take it. A hideaway attic bedroom.

Our private grocery store, otherwise known as consumables. A lot of flour, sauces and chocolate. And Cheeze-Its. Some peanuts. Sugar. Beans. Coffee, maple syrup. We're ready for the apocalypse.

Back down the stairs to the basement, it's medieval grotto time. With a delicate, glass-cube shower. The iShower? And a mystery door on the left, wonder what's behind it?

Wonder no more. Grab a towel and head into the steam room. Ahhh.....

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Checking Out Our Neighborhood In Vilnius

We're lucky to be living in the Old Town section of Vilnius. Most of the other Embassy housing is scattered throughout the modern part of the city, but we get to soak up the pedestrian-friendly, restaurant-heavy Old Town. Hooray for places to walk to!

When you walk out our door, here's the quaint street that greets you.

Typical small town features, shopping, cafe and a central fountain, all a minute or so away from our front door.

And then there are the eating options, open air in the summer.

This place looks good! And for those suddenly chilly afternoons and evenings, a restaurant-supplied blanket, complete with beer sponsorship. Time to wrap and drink.

Our neighborhood wouldn't be complete without a church.

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Old Town Of Vilnius

Europe is filled with cities that feature old town sections and Lithuania's Vilnius has one of the best examples. It's locally known as Senamiestis and is still an integral, working part of the city. You can find Vilnius University, the Presidential Palace and many churches within the old town. UNESCO named it a world heritage site in 1994.

Looking north from the town hall square.

A baroque church, St Catherine, built in the 1800's. Hey, Lithuanian on the wall!

The Gate of Dawn, the only gateway from the old city walls to survive, 16th century. There's a chapel inside, a feature to safeguard the city.

More details, a typical block and top of a church.

One of the many lanes, a medieval fantasyland. 

Plenty of outdoor places to stop and have a bite, at least in the summer. The old post office.

A funky movie theater, naturally playing arty films.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Welcome To Vilnius, Lithuania

We've arrived. So where are we? Latvia? The Balkans? Virginia?

Hello Vilnius.

That's Lithuania, the former Grand Duchy, a place that at one time was the biggest, most powerful country in Europe.

Today, Vilnius is a picturesque city on the banks of the Neris River. Home to about half a million people, Vilnius features one of the largest old town sections in Europe. There's a classic feel to the place, full of meandering streets, plazas and plenty of shops and restaurants within walking distance in Old Town.

A landmark in the center of Old Town, the Cathedral.

Vilnius is dominated by a large hill, which, of course, was home to many fortifications. Gediminas' tower remains. A boat trip along the Neris River.

A look down Pilies street, the main drag of the Old Town.

Soviet era architecture is still around, examples include the opera house and the Contemporary Arts Center.

North of the river sits modern Vilnius, a small collection of modern glass towers.