Castles and Crossbows

Trip Start Apr 05, 2014
Trip End Jun 11, 2014

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Flag of Lithuania  ,
Saturday, May 3, 2014

After we'd fought our way to the breakfast buffet, fighting off about 100 conference people, we hired the Resort bikes and headed along the lush river bank to the superb Trakai Castle. The town of Trakai sits right on this beautiful lake system, a bit like Queenstown but with a big, massive 14th C castle in the middle of it. Look at the photos, people, it's stunning!!!  Our Lithuanian drama, lead us to this gorgeous town, which we would otherwise have never found.   Now there's a silver lining to write home about...
The castle is on an island in the middle of a lake, fairly tale material.  A fairy tale which came crushing down when we crossed over the wooden bridges and joined the throngs of tourists.  They must just coach them in for the castle tour, then bus them out again.  The town itself and the picture perfect lake side area is virtually deserted.    
Time was not our friend, as we had to check out of the hotel by 12.30 and catch a train back to the capital, Vilnius. We pushed and shoved to get an entry ticket and then fanged around the castle at break neck speed, shooting photos, trying to read interpretive signs, going up staircases against the flow, sneaking through crowded doorways and being heckled by the tourists (Steve's least favourite person is a crowd pusher). 
Steve managed to fulfill one of his Game of Thrones fantasies by sneaking in a cheeky 6 shots on a crossbow in one of the deserted courtyards, taking out a duck, a meerkat and the red bit on the bullseye. In your face, King Joffrey!
We cycled back up the pretty main street of Trakai to get back to the hotel, checked out and caught the local train to our new hotel in Vilnius, the Raddison Blu hotel. Luxury. A far cry from the "Best Hostel" in Riga.  

Viilnius, the capital of Lithuania appears bigger again than the other two Baltic cities we have visited.  Very modern, touristy and has sophisticated dining and shopping streets.  There was not much of the old city vibe that was so prevalent in Tallinn. 
The highlight of Vilnius was the Tower Castle on the hill.  We climbed up the the very steep cobbled stoned mini mountain to reach the Tower, then further countless steps on the inside stairwell to reach the turrets at the top.  Spectacular views of the city and surrounds.  
We hit the main pedestrian street and ended up in a hipster bar with great beer. We trawled around town for a while, had some dinner, before finally descending on a cool bar, with only 20 local Lithuanian beers on tap. Steve managed to sneak in a cheeky few half litres of quality Lithuanian Pivo before we headed back to the hotel for some well earnt shut eye.
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mum on

Aren't you getting sick of castles yet?And all the crowds?

Michelle on

Just catching up on your blog, as we have been away to zap up some warm weather in Vanuatu and New Caledonia, ( home to frosts and minus figures in the not so sunny Fingal Valley) so a little slow on the news, family grape vine letting me down!! Congrats to you both!! And loving your blog!!

madanaki on

Not yet, Mum. And the crowds haven't even started yet. It's still only spring, wait til summer!

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