Uzupis (there’s an inverted hat on the z but getting fancy characters on this tablet is a hassle!) is the artistic quarter of Vilnius, and, with a bit of tongue firmly in cheek, has declared itself an autonomous republic. On the wall of one of the streets there is the constitution of the microstate, black on silver tablets, in 20 different languages. It’s all very philosophical and utopian, but it’s meant to show a point whilst still being humourous.
Also in Uzupis is the rather odd pub called Snekutis, which is a mishmash of … ‘things’ that somehow make a building with a small bar and about 6 or 7 tables. They brew their own beer, so naturally I had a pint (well, 500ml) – “Jovary Snekutis”, at 6%, quite foamy at first, light and sweet, with a texture and taste a bit like honey lemsip. I liked it. Others perhaps wouldn’t. I also had a pie; kind of like a shepherd’s pie (mainly potato) but filled with pigs’ ears rather than mince. This seems to be a local delicacy. And I’m all for eating local food …
I’d arrived in Vilnius around 1.30pm and no sooner had I left the station than it started to rain. Torrentially. It did ease off but not until I was most of the way to the hostel. This was the weather pattern for the whole day really – a sudden torrential downpour not long after leaving a building. Anyone might think that the Gods had it in for me, until you remember that I’m English and flippers/rubber skin come as standard issue. We do have 6576828 different words for rain, from ‘mizzle’ at one end to ‘OhChristItsComingInThroughTheWindow’ at the other.
Despite the rain, Vilnius looks a very pretty city, and very definitely the least Soviet of all the cities I’ve visited so far. It actually resembles more a central European city, of the Prague/Krakow type, despite being part of the USSR for several decades – I don’t know why, maybe they just never got round to Russifying it (in terms of architecture at least).
It’s also the place I’ve visited so far that has the most command of English. Whilst other cities have some things in more than one language, the people of Vilnius (even more than Bucharest) actually seem able to speak it, at least in enough limited capacity to make useful conversation.
Odd lack of Bureau-de-Change but plenty of banks so changing money isn’t a problem. And no, GBP, not anything more obscure. I could have paid for my hostel in Euros, actually, but the legal currency here is the Lita, at about 4.2 to the pound.
As you can gather from this, I managed to get out of Minsk without any trouble at all. Used up as much ruble has I could in buying breakfast (from the same, logically named, ‘cafe’ underneath Minsk station) and some snacks for the journey. Train was a bit cramped but spent the time updating my travel journal and looking out the window at, mainly, forests bathed in sunshine. Which makes the torrential downpour I had on arrival even more unexpected.
I’m feeling quite a bit more contented today, which is good. I’m here for another two full days, and have no real plans to do anything except just casually explore.