unallersimple: (hectopus)
Am feeling especially random today, so here's something random from Vilnius!

^ I was confused to find that along all the main roads in the capital there were piles of dirt every few meters on the edge of the pavement. I really have no idea why they were there! On the way back from the tv tower I saw a guy in workman type clothing with a broom and a shoval making them and to be honest, this really didn't enlighten me any more! Why would someone be paid to do that? Snow, sure, very useful to shovel off the road, but this dirt would either be blown back onto the road or be washed by the rain to cause muddy pavements. Some form of community service perhaps..? Public works scheme?! Weird. Anyway, I knew as soon as I saw them that you would love a photo, you've probably been waiting months to see what a pile of Lithuanian dirt looks like.

Sooooo after a day or two in Vilnius I had a truely amazing train ride from one end of the country to the other, capital to coast! Update on it's way whenever...



Mar. 25th, 2007 02:30 pm
unallersimple: (hectopus)
I started the next day with a wonder around the quaint little old town of Vilnius, the historic centre of the city. It's similiar to the other Baltic states in that they have a central old town which is usally very touristy (less so here than the other two), and then you can see newer buildings circling round and the most recent development at the edge, skyscrapers and posh hotels peeking down on you as you explore the churches, galleries and museums. Due to a large number of trollybuses there were cobwebs of electric cables weaving between buildings from street to street. I liked the place but to be honest I found Riga and Tallin touched me more.

In the old town I stepped into a few churches, walked through an endless amount of streets. (I love just walking, roaming and seeing with eyes wide open). I also accidently stole a copy of the Baltic times.

^The building in the top left is the Town Hall with a building site in front, or is that a car park..?

^ Some buildings in the Old Town

I went to the castle, or the little of it that remains and felt saddened to see so many youths at the top sitting around lost in wafts of cigerette smoke and alcohol. They were all under 20? Did they not have jobs or college to go to? It reminded me a little of Kendal castle, except this was 1pm on an ordinary weekday and there must have been about 50 - 100 young people in and around the area where the castle was. Maybe it was a school holiday?

I later found an art gallery but was disapointed to find it only housed one room with no more than 12 photos (I counted). Still, I only paid 20p to get in so I can't grumble too much. Being from Britain I could throw Litas around all day and not notice anything, we really don't realise how much we have here.

^ A random poster that had been stuck everywhere.

The next day didn't flow quite as planned, but I achieved the only thing I wanted to which was to find the tv tower and consume a beverage in the revolving restaurant at the top. (It's the little things isn't it?) At the train station I managed to buy a ticket through pointing and copying out Lithuanian phrases, only to board the wrong bus which took me up back past the hostel. I wasn't best pleased! Determined not to let my spirits be dampened I found the correct vehicle but couldn't work out where I ended up in the suburbs of Vilnius! I got off 20 mins later, only to find I was nowhere near where I wanted to be. Cue walking, lots of walking.

^ After 20 mins of walking I was this far from the tv tower!

I walked, walked and then I did some more walking. I ended up wondering around some very scary Soviet era style flats which were very oppressive and depressing. I cut through a playground and eventually emerged triuphant, if not a little embarrassed, at the back fence of the tv tower. I followed it round to the front and rode the lift to the top. I was all proud of me! (There were no signs or friendly English speaking people anywhere to help you see.)

I actually spent about an hour walking in the end, it got me thinking about how I could write something deep and meaningful here comparing my struggle to find the tv tower to the struggles of finding what you want in life. Sadly my writing isn't that elegent! I'm going to share some rambles with you anyway though.

How long do you keep going to achieve something you really want? When you're on a path that causes more harm than good, would it be foolish to stay on it when you're not sure of the outcome? Is it best to give up, cut your loses and head back to square one? Is is better to try and not succeed, than to try and try and waste all day/months/years in not succeeding?
I made it to the tv tower in the end, though I wonder if the Lizzie before mum died would have done it. Would she have even traveled at all at this point in her life if she had a mum and hadn't spent the last three years just struggling to get by?

It was great at the top though, I loved it! Settling into a booth in the revolving restaurant I worked out that one revolution took 43 mins (I timed it) and I enjoyed the view along with the chance to rest my weary legs! I felt a bit of a prick when the restuantrant revolved past the bar though, there isn't really much you can do but sit on a moving chair while the bar staff watch you go by! It must be strange to work there, the waiters seemed to have some trouble finding their customers. I was there for ages in the end, lost myself amongst the images of hi-rise flats and shades of greens, greys and browns in a landscape that seemed to float round for ever... :)

^The signs said no photos (and this was enforced by patroling waiters!) but I had to sneak some after walking for so long to get there. :)

unallersimple: (hectopus)
Back on British soil safe and well, though I apologise to everyone who I told to read my journal while I was away, I didn't think the internet would be so unavailable! In the capital I could sometimes log in at the hostel for about 10 minutes, and I was very alarmed to find that outside of Vilnius there was no internet access at all!

~ ~ ~

I knew I would be in for a more challenging adventure this time from the wait to board the plane at the airport. Everyone was queuing up patiently until we were allowed to get on the plane, when everyone just rushed and pushed forward to form a big crowd of people at the door. Such a shock for a English person to experience. We may be reserved and well known for our awkward social skills but darn it, we are brilliant at ordering ourselves into lines fairly and efficiently! I think it's one of the hardest things to do when you travel, gain the ability to see things without using your culture filtered vision, especially somewhere where you may be the only person from your country around. (You may think a queue is a really petty thing to mention here, but to see how much it is installed in you note your reaction next time someone pushes in, or gets serves before you at the bar when it was your turn!) It's hard to open up to new experiences and overcome that feeling of panic and clinging on to your values when everything is strange and unfamiliar.

I was cheered up by the fact we left the airport in snowfall though, so pretty!

A few hours later we landed at the smallest airport I've ever seen. I take back all the jokes I made about the "shed" in Tasmania. We were led to the terminal by a car which had a flashing "follow me" sign on the top. This confused me as there was one runway and one building with only place to stop the plane. Surely the driver could find his way without needing a cute vehicle to trail behind?

^I've never followed a car while sat in a plane before!

I was rather amused to find the airport building looked like a conservatory display at Great Mills (none of this Focus DIY rubbish) and I felt foolish for asking how to get into the city centre because there was clearly only one bus into town! I must have looked such a wally, standing and wobbling about trying to hold on to my baggage, desperately peering out the window trying to figure out where I was on the map. I hate having to try and work out where to get off. I always, always get off to early. This time I ended up with a 30 minute walk to the train station - whoops!

^ My hostel in the capital

Everything is so different in Lithuania, the country is a lot poorer than the UK. The transport system is very underdeveloped, there are no motorways, lamp posts, crash bariers and a lot of the time no road markings either! (Crossing the road felt like being that frog from early computer games - lots of dangerous traffic dodging. You just have to make a run for it!) There are few pavements, and those are usually filled with holes. Buildings look tired and worn down, usually crumbling and falling apart if not already left in a state of ruin because no one can afford to rebuild them. Ambulances look liked they were built 50 years ago, like many of the trains and buses! It was upsetting actually to see the country like that, as you know things would have been so different without decades of occupation with their people being murdered and sent to the camps.

Having mentioned all that though, it would be unfair to leave out how beautiful the place is. It has some gorgeous scenery and buildings seeped in grace and history. There are great people and cool places to meet them. There are signs of wealth and new buildings growing too, it's just hard for someone from a place like the UK (which has everything so easy in comparison) not to talk about those things...but more on the good stuff later, I've written too much already! :)

^ Before signing out Klim just wanted to show his confusion when he found straw holding the door frame to the wall...



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