Lithuania 2011: Vilnius

After two flights (and two lots of security) with all my luggage in my hands (9.7kg and feeling heavier by the minute) I arrived in Vilnius at about 4.00 local time. I’d been watching the landscape from the plane, drawing coastlines and rivers for looking up later and had noticed snowy patches appearing. As we were making our descent to Vilnius I spotted a river that was almost completely white, as if it had been frozen in one instant. Fields and hills were snowy and there was snow by the roadsides.

It took all of 30 seconds to get from the bus that brought us to the terminal to the outside world. No luggage to pick up, no one to check passports, not even a desk for officials to sit at.

There was a bus outside. I got on it, reasoning that the 1 and 2 had to go to similar places. The driver didn’t have enough change so I finished up with two tickets and no instructions to validate it. The ticket inspector I looked blankly at told me about that when she got on a few stops later.

I soon discovered (from my guidebook) that the 2 didn’t go to the right place but I thought maybe if it went to Gediminas Prospektas that I could walk back down. However half an hour later i seemed to have left the city centre behind and was on a dual carriageway. It was time to get off, cross the road (via the bridge; I didn’t walk across four lanes of Lithuanian traffic) and get the 2 in the opposite direction back to the airport and start again.

I took the train this time, to make sure I couldn’t get lost again. The platform is far too low and especially with a suitcase it’s quite a leap to get on and off the thing. Tickets were no problem – buy from the conductor, no need to validate, and by this time I had a 5 lita coin.

It was easy enough to get to the hotel once I’d found my way out of the station. There is a McDonald’s outside the station in case I’m in dire need of hot chips and the Comfort hotel which does look much better than this one. This one is on a road that apparently is being dug up and has mounds of muddy snow down each side.

I have checked in and have a room. The ceiling is too high for the light to be really effective but it has a balcony and no metal cots inside and it also has unexpected free wifi which is wonderful.

First impression is that Vilnius is like Bucharest but with a much colder climate. There are also a handful of older wooden buildings that look like the ones in Turku and half a dozen glass towers. Not sure what to make of Vilnius so far.

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