Saturday 17 May
The sun is shining and the people are singing. Literally. I’ve managed to stumble onto a day of festivity in the Lithuanian capital, as everywhere you turn people are performing on the streets. It seems as the whole city has come to life for a traditional “day of music”, when bands and artists of all different genres (and abilities) rock out in the old town. It’s wonderful when a city becomes vibrant with such displays of life. It’s a pleasure to walk through the happy throngs of locals and tourists alike. Everything is alright with the world on days like this.
Vilnius is definitely the nicest of the Baltic capitals. It’s got a real medieval charm, which is helped not in small part by the hundreds of ancient buildings in the old town. The architecture is beautiful, with plenty of green space and booming cafe culture. Of course it’s aided by the glorious weather (everywhere is crap in the rain) but the people are out to play and play hard. If I didn’t decide to move quicker, I would be happy to dwell longer in this heady hive of culture.
I have a companion to guide me too, a Lithuanian girl I met in Estonia. She’s very kindly offered to show me Trakai Castle, which sits some 40 minutes by train outside the capital in gorgeous countryside. Local knowledge always beats the guide-book (and my own attempts to navigate to such places) so I’m more than happy to be given the grand tour.
Trakai Castle is a stunning 14th Century stronghold that sits on an island in Lake Galve. It’s a beautiful spot, and well worth a visit if you’re in this neck of the extensive woods. The lake is popular for boating, with an abundance of those peddle craft you can romantically splash about in, and there are also numerous bride and grooms having a wedding off; with happy couples jostling for prime picture opportunities. A million schoolkids threaten to mar my experience, but as they clear out and the sky clears up, the peacefulness and tranquillity of the location really shines through. It’s a joy to sip a cold beer by the water’s edge, and watch the world and it’s boats drift by. I shall be looking to replace messy city party nights with more experiences like this.