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Sunday, May 21, 2017

For the sake of posting...

Drummers on Gedimino Prospektas

It's been a most unexceptional weekend here in Lithuania's capital. My daughter, for example, did on Saturday what she's done on many Saturdays before - have a swimming lesson in the morning, followed by a schoolmate's birthday party in the afternoon. There's really no reason for this post except to celebrate the fact that now (and the coming summer months) is the best time to be in Vilnius, with sunny skies and temperatures sitting at a very comfortable 25° Celsius (77° Fahrenheit). Though my better half still prefers to stay indoors and swipe at iPhone and iPad screens all day long, like many Lithuanians this window of beautiful weather is just too good to pass up. So I took a long walk on Saturday afternoon, admiring the view along the Neris:


After the birthday party, the three of us went out for dinner at a recently-opened Sushi Stop not far from our apartment building. On the way there, Amber paused to ogle a chair suspended from in front of the Russian Drama Theater of Lithuania:


You don't visit Lithuania expecting to eat great sushi 寿司, so there wasn't any disappointment about the meal, but the availability of Sapporo Beer サッポロビール was a pleasant surprise:


Dandelions are everywhere at the moment, much to my daughter's glee:


While Shu-E went back home to be with her electronic devices, Amber and I took a long post-dinner stroll through Old Town. There was a Street Music Festival taking place throughout Saturday, and every corner we turned there would be a band performing. These drummers on Gedimino Prospektas drew a big crowd:

video

The above video was recorded at some point between 8:00 and 8:30 pm. With the days getting longer, it's easy to lose track of the actual time (and also making it difficult to sleep in on the weekends without the help of blackout curtains).

Sunday was just as bright and warm as the previous day, and my wife, daughter and I went out for lunch at Vilnius' only Korean restaurant, JHK & DD's Place. The bulgogi there isn't bad, but the best thing about the restaurant is its outdoor seating (on AstroTurf!) on Vokiečių gatvė:


After lunch, Shu-E elected to return home for an afternoon of monster slaying and message reading on Line, so Amber and I mingled with the tourists as we made our way over to Cathedral Square. The Cathedral Belfry there turned out to be closed on Sundays, so instead we visited the Museum of Applied Art (Taikomosios Dailės Muziejus). The museum, sitting at the foot of Gediminas Hill, is located in the Old Arsenal, built in the 16th century and restored in the 1980's. It houses temporary collections, the current two of which we visited on Sunday afternoon. On the first floor is Tamed Nature. 18th–21st Century. Exhibition from the fashion historian Alexandre Vassiliev collection:


 "Isn't that illegal?" asked my daughter


 A reminder that the Seventies were a "special" time


 Swinging London (and a few other places)

 Amber wonders why anyone would wear a hat with a dead bird on it

 A Kenzo from 1968


Upstairs is the Roundabout Baltic Exhibition, showcasing the works of designers from the Baltic Sea region:


 Concrete Meets Porcelain

 My daughter's favorite was this "deformed" chair

Blue Line Tableware

There were also displays of the "Good Design" Lithuanian design prize winners, such as Ignorance is Bliss tableware:


The Museum of Applied Art also houses a small collection of more traditional art pieces:


Back outside and basking in the sun:


Father and daughter enjoying some doughnuts and 珍珠奶茶 in Savivaldybės aikštė (Municipal Square) before heading home for dinner:


We've been in Vilnius for just over a year now, with one more to go before we move on. It's been a great tour so far, and having survived our first long, dark Baltic winter, it's time to celebrate the change in seasons. I'm looking forward to the next few months of late sunsets, warm temperatures and dining al fresco on cobblestoned streets.

And checking out all the craft beer places that seem to be emerging from the woodwork...

Friendship

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Wait till next year


It's Mother's Day this weekend*, but this year I'm not in much of a celebratory mood. For once, I'm glad my wife usually doesn't get too enthused with these kinds of celebrations, though I'm sure that next year I'll be back to forcing her to accept a present from her daughter and then going out to have lunch or dinner with her family. For now, though, the weekend of the second Sunday of May has been just another two-day break from school and work.

That doesn't mean we were idle this weekend, however, The weather on Saturday was sunny and warm, and much welcome from the early spring snow flurries we've been experiencing in Vilnius the past couple of weeks. Amber and I took our bicycles out of hibernation in the afternoon, beginning in Old Town:

Posing with the tourists on Pilies gatvė

Bernardine Church & Monastery

Pausing along the side of St Anne's Church


In Cathedral Square

Taking a break inside Gedimino 9. Doughnut courtesy of Donut Lab; milk tea brought to us by Formosa

In front of Parliament House

A pyramid-shaped map depicting the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as it looked in the 15th century (curiously overlaid onto a current European political map), when it was the largest state in Europe

West of Gedimino Prospektas and across the Neris River stands the Russian Orthodox Church of the Saint Virgin's Apparition (Знаменская церковь), which I had earlier misidentified in this post as being the Romanov Church. I stand corrected:





Nearby stands a kenessa, a traditional Karaite prayer house, dating from 1911:


Crossing the Neris and returning to New Town, but not before stopping to hear the bells ringing in the Church of the Saint Virgin's Apparition:



video

This wedding hall on Kalinausko gatvė was built in 1974, when Lithuania was an unwilling member of the USSR. It's actually featured in a coffee table book I own on Soviet-era architecture:


Hot-air balloons, the clearest harbinger of spring in Vilnius:


On Sunday the three of us ended up doing something sort of related to Mother's Day (after Amber had given Shu-E a homemade card in the morning after breakfast) - we drove 90 minutes northwest from Vilnius to Burbiškio dvaras, a complex in the middle of nowhere that (according to its website) includes a restaurant and a cigar room. This weekend it was host to a tulip festival, and the warm weather brought out the bulbs...and the visitors:







Being a festival, there was food and music, of course:



We also took a stroll around the grounds:






Before heading back to Vilnius, we made a short detour to Kleboniškiai, home to an 1884 windmill:


A stork sighting near the windmill. Lithuania is home to 13,000 pairs, the highest-density stork population in Europe:


Apparently change comes slowly to rural Lithuania:


Back in Vilnius, I took my daughter out for tacos at No Forks on Vokiečių gatvė. Amber was apparently not clear on the concept behind the restaurant:


Happy Mother's Day to all, and hope to see you next year...

*Mother's Day is on the first Sunday of May in Lithuania, but we follow the American calendar at home