Vilnius, Lithuania

Trip Start Apr 17, 2001
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Lithuania  ,
Friday, September 22, 2006

We'd just finished celebrating Ellen's birthday; a meal of wild boar, mashed potatoes and fried potatoes covered with cowberries and a bottle of Argentinian Malbec. I was rubbing my roundish belly and started wondering if we North Americans are being duped. These people appear stronger and healthier than we do. All those advertising campaigns about the values of different coloured vegetables and the number of servings you should eat each day; then I thought back to the time I've spent in Eastern Europe and the few vegetables I've actually ever seen in this part of the world. I do remember watching an old woman carrying a very large squash in Instanbul, but that was on the east side of the Bosphorus so technically she was in Asia. All the way from Bulgaria to Lithuania, I cannot remember ever seeing a single bean, pea or sprout.

Touristically speaking, Vilnius is in a rather poor spot. With Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and Poland to the south you don't see many foreigners here.

We started our journey in Vilnius because we read that it has the largest Old Town in all of Europe. It was a good choice. The restaurant where we'd eaten the wild boar was in a 17th century merchant's house. We had to almost crawl down a low-ceilinged stairway to reach the cave-like cellar dining area.

There are over 20 magnificent Gothic and Baroque churches in the Old Town alone. And best of all, because of Vilnius' geographic location, you only occasionally see a group of old folks ambling closely together along the cobblestone streets; a two or perhaps three hour bus layover on the way to St. Petersburg or Moscow most likely. You get a sense that the Vilnians are content with the way things are. Happy-go-lucky amongst themselves, they sour ever so slightly when dealing with outsiders. Or is the kind of outsiders they think we are? Time will tell, perhaps.
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marypatterson on

Hey Jack and Ellen,

Jim was wondering when Jack will write..he will be pleased when he hears from you guys. Anyway, great pics. I hope the wild boar didn't 'taste like chicken'. Happy belated birthday Ellen. The weather has been kind of cool here. My leg is improving I can almost bend it to my bum, but at night it is still pretty stiff. I guess that will take time. I booked some accommodation in Yosemite - a small cottage. I can hardly wait. Anyway, looking forward to hearing from you again.

Mary P.

holmes on

Happy Birthday!
Happy 29th Ellen! Glad to hear you made a soft landing. Looking forward to more tales from the Baltics. I agree with Jack, vegetables are overrated :)


akalapaca on

Happy Belated!
Well my dear, sounds like you had just another perfect birthday. Birthday drinks are on me when you return... of course, you have to give me all the dirt that Jack is hiding :)


letamcg on

Happy Birthday!
Glad to hear all's going well; wouldn't expect anything else! Hope you had a great birthday Ellen! Keep us posted! Enjoy!!
Love Leta

vladimir on

Happy Birthday!
Sounds like my kind of birthday meal:)

suekadam on

Happy Birthday, Ellen!
You sure know how to pick a brithday spot, to say nothing of a birthday dinner!! And you look VERY relaxed....Can't believe how clean those cities are. Jack, keep the travelogue coming! Hugs from Sue.

djtapsat on

EEK .. Belated Happy Birthday
Didn't get to your blog till tonight .. anyhow, Happy Birthday Chez Helene !!


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