(Lithuania Flag)


(Lithuania Map)


TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2013:

Today we drove west and crossed the border into Lithuania, arriving later in the capital, Vilnius.
Vilnius is the largest city in Lithuania, with a population over 500,000 people.
We checked into our hotel, the Radisson Blu Hotel Lietuva.
I got a nice view of the city from my hotel room.

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

Radisson Hotel in Vilnius, Lithuania View from the Radisson Hotel in Vilnius, Lithuania View from the Radisson Hotel in Vilnius, Lithuania

The video below is 4 minutes long of my accommodations in Vilnius.

Our expert Local Guide showed us the sights during our city tour.
Our first stop was at Saint Peter and Saint Paul church.
Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church in Vilnius, Lithuania Old Town in Vilnius, Lithuania Old Town in Vilnius, Lithuania

Next we took a walking tour through the old town.
Old Town in Vilnius, Lithuania Old Town in Vilnius, Lithuania Old Town in Vilnius, Lithuania

The Old Town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
St. Anne's Church in Vilnius, Lithuania Presidential Palace in Vilnius, Lithuania Cathedral of Vilnius in Vilnius, Lithuania

We had dinner and entertainment at the Alude Pub later in the evening.
Alude Pub in Vilnius, Lithuania Alude Pub in Vilnius, Lithuania

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON SEPTEMBER 3, 2013
Hello folks,

It was still raining as we left Minsk this morning. It was a two hour drive to the Lithuania border. You wouldn't believe the long line of trucks waiting to go through customs. It had to be a least two miles long. The wait time for the truckers is 48 hours. It took us about 90 minutes to clear customs on both sides of the border. It was only about a half hour drive to Vilnius, the capitol city, after we crossed the border. We got to our hotel at noon. We got our rooms and had lunch and then had a sightseeing tour of the city. Our first stop was at Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church.



Next we took a walking tour of the historic district.



There is a church about every ten feet.



Below is Town Hall Square.



Lots of very narrow cobblestone streets.



Vilnius is not a big city. It has a population of a little over a half million people.



Lithuania was of course once part of the Soviet Union. They are now set to join the Euro Zone next year. Below is the Presidential Palace.



Below is the Cathedral of Vilnius.



After our walking tour we came back to the hotel. We're staying at a very nice hotel right on the river. The hotel is the tallest building in the picture below.



It rained all the way over here this morning. Since we got here the weather keeps changing. Bright and sunny one minute and then cloudy the next. The picture below was taken from my hotel room window.



Tonight we went to a tavern in the old town for dinner. It was a nice five course meal. The zeplin was the best. That a large pork dumpling. We were also entertained with a local folklore show.



This is our only night in Lithuania. We are moving on to Latvia tomorrow afternoon after lunch.

Until then,

Tim



WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2013:

This morning we visited the old Lithuanian capital of Trakai with its beautifully set
lakeside castle. The peninsula is dotted with old wooden cottages, many of them built
by the Karaites, a sect originating in Baghdad.
Trakai, Lithuania Trakai, Lithuania Trakai Castle in Trakai, Lithuania

Our guided visit showed us Lithuania's most famous and photographed
castle which has been painstakingly restored to give an insight into
the former grandeur and turbulent history of the Grand Duchy.
Trakai Castle in Trakai, Lithuania Trakai Castle in Trakai, Lithuania Trakai Castle in Trakai, Lithuania

We returned to Vilnius after leaving the castle to have lunch.
After lunch we hit the road bound for Riga, Latvia.
A few hours drive out of Vilnius but still in Lithuania,
We made a stop at the Hill of Crosses.
The precise origin of the practice of leaving crosses on the hill is uncertain, but it is believed
that the first crosses were placed here after the 1831 Uprising. Over the centuries, not only crosses,
but giant crucifixes, carvings of Lithuanian patriots, statues of the Virgin Mary and thousands of
tiny effigies and rosaries have been brought here by Catholic pilgrims. The exact number of crosses
is unknown, but estimates put it at about 100,000 in 2006. On September 7, 1993, Pope John Paul II
visited the Hill of Crosses, declaring it a place for hope, peace, love and sacrifice.
Hill of Crosses in Northern Lithuania

The video below is 49 minutes long of my visit to Lithuania.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON SEPTEMBER 4, 2013
Hello folks,

This morning after breakfast we visited Trakai Castle which is just outside Vilnius, Lithuanaia on an island in the middle of a lake.



This place was the old Lithuanian capitol.



We went back into Vilnius for lunch and then hit the road for Riga, Latvia. About three hours out from Vilnius we stopped at the hill of crosses.



This place was started during the dark Soviet times. The KGB would come and burn it down and it would be started back up again. Now that Lithuania has their independence the crosses aren't being burned down anymore. Pope John Paul II was here about 20 years ago and consecrated the place.



The rest of this email is on the Riga page.




Click on the arrow above to continue to my next stop, RIGA!

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