Lithuania 2011: Vilnius 4

Today I woke up at about 6 because people in other rooms were being noisy. I didn’t get up but I couldn’t go back to sleep either. I pulled back the curtains a little bit and played with my phone – the wifi had finally come back after being missing for about twelve hours.

When I looked up, the wall was orange, as if the sun was shining right in through the window. I got up and looked outside. It was not sunny. It was snowing.

It snowed on and off all morning. I spent quite a while trying to convince myself to get up but it was grey and cold and snowing and didn’t look appealing.

As usual, my first stop was the supermarket, then I went down through the Old Town to Cathedral Square and up to Gedimino9 where I bought the yellow duck I’d missed yesterday and the red duck I hadn’t seen and then swore never to go in the duck shop again.

As I walked back down to the cathedral something seemed odd. Police were stopping the traffic on Gediminas and the cathedral bells were donging non-stop. I still don’t know what it was but it was like I’d walked into some kind of Lithuanian Remembrance Day.

I decided to turn left at the bottom of Gediminas and walk down to the river. I crossed over the bridge, decided there was nothing on the other bank and came back. This time I noticed that there were a lot of locks and chains attached to the bridge and also a sign. At first I assumed the sign said something like ‘Don’t chain your bike to this bridge or we will make it disappear” but it had a few phone numbers on. I deduced that it must be the Lithuanian equivalent of the Samaritans.

I walked back through the Old Town and went down a side street to see St Anne’s and St Michael’s Churches (different St Anne to yesterday’s). St Anne’s was exactly as pretty as the guidebook said. That is how you build a brick church. I see why Napoleon wanted to take it back to France.

I took an icy route back to Pilies gatve, past a wall embedded with teapots and up the street. Now it was time to look at the amber.

The Old Town is packed with amber shops. It ranges from chunks the size of my fist on strings like ropes to delicate little necklaces. I bought some amber and came back to the hotel via every amber shop in sight. I soon figured out that there are two kinds of amber shop. There are the blue and yellow shops and the brown ones. The brown ones seem to sell the more delicate jewellery and the blue and yellow ones sell all kinds of souvenirs.

I came back to the hotel for lunch of bread and cheese and chocolate and to change jeans – mine are far to long and were soaked from the slush.

After lunch, and with my spare emergency money I went out and finished my amber shopping and then stocked up on food and drink in case the shops aren’t open tomorrow (they will be) or I can’t get to them (eg if I’m on a train). My balcony makes an excellent fridge for things like bottles and apple juice tastes much better cold.

By now it’s stopped snowing. Now everything’s just wet and grey. I hope the sun comes back out again tomorrow.

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