[This is a continuation of my last post. You can find part 2 here.]
On the third day, we decided to see all the major attractions in old town. We had done a quick read through on the internet on all the important sites and had our plan. The day was sunny but cold like the previous days. We walked to the bus stop and as it was a Sunday, the next bus was after 40 minutes or so. We decided to walk. Walking in the suburbs of Vilnius reminded me of Southern Nepal, where the houses look similar. Vilnius was so special because not only it reminded me of Finland and Poland but even Nepal.
We got on the bus and got down in old town. We first went for some lunch and saw the Cathedral Basilica. We went to the presidential palace to watch the Lithuanian flag raising ceremony. I was expecting the ceremony to be big and crowded but it was very small (about 20 soldiers) and quiet. The ceremony was accompanied not only with the modern soldiers, but also soldiers dressed in medieval Lithuanian armor. I learned later that the soldiers wearing the uniforms, restored of the 14th century are representing the honorable soldiers of the history as well are part of the millennium of Lithuania’s history.The ceremony lasted for about 15 minutes or so.
We then went to the upper castle for a panoramic view of the city including the old town. All major attractions were in a short distance. On a sunny day, the view was stunning. Gediminas Tower of the upper castle is the only remaining part of upper castle that was destroyed. The tower has a museum and also offers spectacular views of the city. We didn’t go into the museum as we had very nice views from the hill itself (the tower is in a high hill). We decided to come back later with some drinks and snacks and take better pictures of the old town as the sun was right above it during noon.
After that we walked along the beautiful river to go to the Užupis. Republic, an artistic zone in Vilnius. The walk along the river was beautiful. Beautiful autumns colors, very clean (!) river water, and families feeding ducks on a sunny day. We also saw beautiful Church of St.Anne along the way. Užupis Repiblic, as we read, is like a small country within a country as it has its own anthem, constitution, president, bishop, two churches, one of the oldest graveyards in Vilnius , seven bridges, and a guardian – the bronze angel of Užupis. We were told later by our hosts that the area is much livelier during summer as they have a lot of events.
We bought some drinks and snacks at the store and went to the hill again. We stayed there for a while and made some pictures. Later we walked the beautiful old town streets of Vilnius lined with cafes, souvenir shops and restaurants. After having dinner, we went to see the Gates of Dawn, one of the most visited shrines in Vilnius. This is the only surviving gate of the first original five gates in the city wall that was built between 1503 and 1522 and has paintings of Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy in the Chapel. Surprisingly, the evening prayers were conducted in Polish inside the church and everybody inside spoke Polish.
After a long day, we decided to head back as we were leaving for Poland the other day. We went home, packed and had some hot tea. In the morning, we left quite early but our bus wasn’t until 3 in the noon. We went to the graveyard dedicated for the fallen Polish soldiers of the Polish-Lithuania commonwealth. After spending some time in the serene graveyard, we walked towards the center. Even after having breakfast, we still had some Litas left. Considering that the Litas are going out of use in a couple of months, we went to the supermarket to finish off all our Litas and bought some drinks and snacks. Then we boarded our bus and started our 9 hours journey back to Poland.
Lithuania implanted very special memories in my heart. I would definitely love to go back and see more of the country. It was by far one of my favorite countries and the unique, peaceful feel it provided me was unbeatable.