Thursday 13th July
Today was dedicated to exploring Vilnius, our third and final Baltic capital, and thankfully we would be doing so in much better weather than yesterday’s brief excursion into the town. We split the pack in the morning, to allow ourselves time for non-dog friendly activities, ie all the normal things tourists do.
First I visited a couple of museums whilst Morgan enjoyed the wifi in Cozy, our new favourite place in Europe. Then we swapped, and Lex and I practised handstands in the park to give Morgan the chance to climb up the bell tower.
I decided to start my day in a thoroughly depressing way, with a visit to the genocide museum. The museum is housed in the former Nazi headquarters, which the Soviets turned into the KGB control centre when they took over Lithuania after WW2. For an unobtrusive building on a quiet residential street, this building sure has housed a lot of evil.
The display on Lithuanians who were exiled to Siberia as political prisoners was particularly well done.
Once you’d emotionally recovered from that, it was down to the dungeons to see the torture and isolation cells used by both the Nazis and the KGB.
Keen for something a bit more cheery, I headed next to the Palace of Grand Dukes, for a taste of pre-twentieth century history. Lithuania was the last pagan country in Europe, and the crusading Teutonic Knights were desperate to convert them to Christianity. Finally, in 1387, after some complex political wheeling and dealing the country was officially converted, allowing the Pope to tick it off on his score sheet while the peasants quietly continued being pagans for the next few hundred years.
We then did a “Lex handover” so Morgan could check out the bell tower and admire the views from the top.
At one point the view included a fancy wedding dance flash mob – seems pretty normal.
Overall, it was a very upsetting morning for Lex. He had only just forgiven me for disappearing WITHOUT WARNING AND FOR NO REASON when Morgan goes and does the same thing. You just can’t explain to a dog what a museum is and why he’s not allowed inside.
Once the pack finally reunited, we wandered the streets of the old town, which is notable for containing more churches than we have ever seen before in one place. Literally, there’s a huge, ornate church on every corner, and each one is very notable and important.
We found some excellent bells in a deserted courtyard of one nice white church. Have I mentioned I really like ringing bells?
These were a little bit louder than expected!
Also, we particularly liked this statue for its tiny wolf howling away on the corner:
We valiantly pretended we were going to try the local food for dinner, and looked at about ten menus before facing up to the fact that we just didn’t fancy the local food. Similar to Russian cuisine, Lithuanian food seems to contain a lot of potato, beetroot, pickles and herrings. Which was not what we were in the mood for at all. Sorry Lithuania. Instead we googled “where the burgers at” and headed to a nearby pub for a couple of excellent burgers, which tasted even better for not being herring.
P.S. On our walk back ‘home’, these hot air balloons all randomly appeared in the sky:
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