The last of the Baltics

Trip Start Jul 07, 2009
Trip End Jul 29, 2009

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Where I stayed
Old Town Hostel

Flag of Lithuania  ,
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Next stop after a 5-hour coach ride was the capital of Lithuania. We found our hostel, Vilnius old town hostel, close to the bus and train station.

Vilnius old town has many points of interest, but I think it's safe to say we were both suffering a little old town fatigue by this stage.  We walked down Pilies street from town hall square, down past the Presidential palace, to the cathedral Basilica and clock tower (originally part of the old town defenses and converted to its current use in the 16th century) before climbing to Gediminas tower that forms part of the Upper Castle and offers vistas of the cityscape.  On our way home we walked past St Anne’s church, a fantastic example of gothic architecture, before deciding to venture into Uzipus (the artists quarter). While Uzipus is likened to Paris’ Montemarte district in the Vilnius tourist guide, we found it to be largely derelict and anything but the romantic or picturesque suburb advertised in the guide. Needless to say we feared for our lives on a leisurely walk along the river bank.

In the morning we ran to a substantial suburban park.  An otherwise uneventful run was punctuated by our happening upon the vast German Wehrmacht cemetery. Much like other WW I & II cemeteries, this was not an actual cemetery, but rather serves as a memorial to the soldiers who lost their lives fighting for their country.  It is a shame we did not have our camera.
The journey from Vilnius to Warsaw is a choice between an overnight bus or a 10-hour train journey with a change in Sestokai. We opted for the latter having heard unfavourable reports about overnight buses. 

On the second leg, we were fortunate enough to share a cabin with a young Lithuanian/Irish couple, a Western Australian backpacker (Rob Kelly) and a Scandinavian traveller. Hearing about other’s experiences and their onward travel plans was a great way to pass the 7-hours from Sestokai to Warsaw. 

This was the hottest day of the trip so far and we quickly discovered that neither train was equipped with a restaurant carriage.  Anyone planning to follow this route should ensure that they are adequately stocked with food and supplies. Personally, I’d recommend an esky with ice cold beer.  If you can’t drink it all, I’m certain you would find plenty of thirsty customers.
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