I went into this city completely blind. Johnny and I went on a week vacation with his family and I knew they had a lot of things planned. All that has done though is left me with an incredible thirst to visit again. The city we stayed in, Vilnius, is the capital of this small country. A small country that actually used to be huge. We had a walking tour of questionable quality, but it did make me curious to discover more about this country.
We stayed at the beautiful Kempinski, right in the center of the city. I enjoyed my mornings sitting on a balcony, espresso in hand, waiting for the rest of the city to wake up. In Beijing when I get up at 6:30 in China I feel like a slacker, the sun rises early and so does everyone else. In Vilnius, the sun ALSO rises early but it takes until around seven am to see anyone. This allowed me to go on some amazing walks around the city by myself. I have spent so many summers seeking out the grungy side of Geneva, and the city center of Vilnius had that perfect mix of old and new town that it inspired me to look the artsy side here too.
The artsy part of town usually starts with coffee and ends with a dive bar; of these things Vilnius has plenty. I didn’t look up anything before I arrived but one walk around the city and I already had several bars and coffee shops for me to head to. StrangeLove, TasteMap, and Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories, those are probably my top coffee shops and they definitely deserve their own post (oh here is it’s post, click!).
There are quite a few interesting things about this city. For one, the building where their president is had no obvious security? Instead they had lights all over the building celebrating 100 years regained after World War I, tourists were taking photos with the installments in front of the building. It was also weirdly new looking, except for the very specific parts of exposed brick on every three buildings. These were supposed to bring character to the buildings and show that they are the REAL buildings that used to be there, just redone.
There is a lot of amazing history in Lithuania. KGB museums, holocaust museums, a palace museum that just opened new rooms. Another option is a free walking tour, a company I found online but wasn’t able to take a tour with was Vilnius with locals. They have a ghost tour, food tour, jewish history tour, and even more that seem really interesting. Next time I visit, and there will be a next time, I want to see everything I can here.
Some things I found in this city that surprised me were a lot of gelato, tons of amber in many forms, and weird weird alcohols. We went to a cave bar with 80 beers all from Lithuania. The most exciting part of the city though was the coffee. Next week expect details about my favorite coffee shops here, along with a million photos of plants. Coffee and plants! my two passions!
What coffee shops have you been to recently? Any new ones?