Thursday, May 10, 2007

Walking tour of Vilnius.

Yesterday, we decided to explore the city by taking a walking tour recommended by our book, Lonely Planet. We kicked off the tour by making our way to Vilnius Cathedral. This cathedral was the national symbol used to worship the thunder god, Perkunas. There are Lithuanian dukes on the south side, apostles and saints on the north side, and statues of St. Helene, Stanislav, and Casmir at the top. Then, we made a long hike to Gediminas Hill. Vilnius was founded on this hill and is topped by the 13th century a red-brick tower. The tower is now the Upper Castle Museum. It displays armour and weapons used during the 17th century. Also from this hill, you could view the Hill of Three Crosses. The story is that these three crosses are in memory of three monks who were crucified on the spot. The reason why they were crucified are unknown. We climbed our way down the hill and explored many side streets. Here we were able to see the remains of many original buildings, with the bricks and mortar, from during the Russian occupation. Next, we stumbled across Aukso Avis, the best of Lithuanian textiles. This shop had purses, clothes, and funky cool jewelry from local artists. We then ate lunch at Cili Kaimas, real Lithuanian cuisine. This restaurant had hens enclosed in glass and the waitresses were dressed up in farm dresses. We ate traditional mushroom soup that is served inside of a brown bread loaf. We also had cepelinai (thick potato dough stuffed with cheese topped with a sour cream sauce). Kacee couldn't get over the sour cream. We then walked more side streets and found ourselves at Vilnius University. This is eastern Europe's oldest university and is Lithuania's oldest library, 5 million books. We continued on our path to the Museum of Genocide Victims. The building that houses this museum was formerly the KGB (during Nazi occupation) and Gestapo (19th century). Memorial plaques honouring the people who died between 1945 and 1946, tile the outside of the building. Inside of the museum, you are able to visit the inmate cells and the execution building where prisoners were shot or stabbed. Walking down the halls and envisioning the amounts of torture that took place here was simply horrific. After the uneasiness of our stomachs began to disappear, we carried on with our journey. Next, we walked through the baroque archway of the Basilian Gates to the Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit, which is the chief Russian Orthodox Church. North to this church, stands Catholic St. Teresa's Church, which is lined with early baroque on the outside and late baroque on the inside. Then, we continued the path to the famous 16th century Gates of Dawn. These are the only gates of the original nine in the town. Through most of this journey, we battled the rain and coldness. We needed some R & R (rest and relaxation).

Thanks to everyone who continues to read and make comments to our posts.


Unknown said...

Wow, you guys have been posting a lot! Guess the blackberry is working out well. Good use of your technology ;)

Glad to hear you are having fun and that Kacee is not feeling sick anymore.

Alaina and I are off to Vegas this weekend. If she wins the jackpot, we may come join you!

Anonymous said...

Looks like a lot of fun! I love the pictures! Sometimes I'll pull up your site at work during lunch to escape for a little while and read your stories. But I do have to say the naked guys dancing in the park gave me a scare...not sure what I'd have said to the boss if she came walking around the corner!! Very fun to follow you guys. : )
-Katie o'sullivan

Anonymous said...

Hi Jay and Kacee,
Looks like your still having fun after over a month now.
I look at the site daily to check out all the new photos you post and what you have been doing on your trip.
Keep up the good work!!
Love Dad

Anonymous said...

Okay, okay! I read, but I don't comment to all of them! Sounds like you are having a blast! I would have loved to been a part of the spa treatment! Sounds spectacular! Sherry