Day 16 : Thursday 15 May
BMQ: All bar about 8 minutes, in a park, of all places. Might have to write some kind of specific entry on this.
I think I’ve decided that Vilnius is one of the most pleasant cities I’ve been to. It’s calming, restful pretty, a nice size, and seems to have everything you might need. As a non-Lithuanian speaker, it was relatively easy to get around, although learning the local language would bring more benefits than it would in, say, the Netherlands. It’s just a nice shade of cool without being too ‘hip’.
Did a lot of walking today. Started off by walking past the head of Frank Zappa, because of course nothing says ‘obvious’ than a statue of a 1970s experimental musician. Yeh, no, I’ve no idea really, but apparently it’s quite a famous ‘thing’. And I guess it makes a change from Pushkin.
After a quick sojourn through Vingis Park (huge, full of joggers), I walked along the river to the opposite side of the city centre, to take a look at The Hill of the Three Crosses. On the top of a hill just to the East of the city centre there’s a series of densely wooded hills, that were Incidentally the site of some of the original fortifications of the city. Atop one of them are three pure white crosses; torn down by the Soviets but subsequently replaced. Lithuania does seem to be quite a religious country; churches are abound, and these crosses wouldn’t seem out-of-place in any of those countries much more associated with it.
Just on the other side of a small tributary, back towards the city centre, is another hill, this one topped by a small tower – Gediminas Castle. It’ a steep climb up a cobblestone road to the tower, and once you get inside there’s a bit of a staircase, but the views from the top are pretty cool as you can see right across the cityscape of Vilnus (it’s a reasonably flat city, really).
From here I headed back towards the hostel, to stop at one of the nearby pubs which also sells microbrews. And fried bread with dip. See, this is a cuisine I could just about live with …
I did however change my plans for the day. Originally I’d been due to fly out of Vilnius at 6am tomorrow morning, and then spend 10 hours getting from London Luton Airport to London Heathrow Airport. However, partly because this would mean having to get up at 4m or something, but mainly for personal reasons, I decided to change my flight to leave this evening instead. So I picked up my bag and headed off to the airport, via a bit more of the old town centre.
Vilnius Airport is close to the city centre (about 5km), and quite quiet. The airport’s railway station is a single-platform on a single-track line with a train every 45 minutes (and for some reason reminded me of Cinderhill Tram Stop in Nottingham). There was virtually no-one else on the train, and to be honest not many people in the airport. The flight was surprisingly quite full, so I don’t know where all the other people were hiding.
We left the airport about 15 minutes late, which had the knock-on effect of my missing my train to Nottingham and having to get a convoluted route back. “Luton Airport Parkway”, incidentally, is a very misleadingly-named station; you have to catch a bus from the airport to reach it. Given the airport’s proximity to Luton town itself, one wonders what the point is…At least East Midlands Parkway, although a bus-ride from East Midlands Airport, is in the middle of nowhere so getting a bus there (and not to, say, Loughborough) makes perfect sense.
So that’s the first leg of my RTW trip over! Next stop, Chile.