Lithuania loves Iceland, Basketball, and Dill

Trakai Castle

Trakai Castle

Iceland was the first country to recognize Lithuania´s independence from the former Soviet, and they´re still really happy about that even though everyone else also followed suit. There´s a street in the Old Town named Iceland street, and it has a plaque commemorating the event on February 11, 1991. It´s not a very long street, but its packed with bars and nightclubs, so the street turns into party central until the wee hours every morning.

I couchsurfed in Vilnius with a tiny Lithuanian artist, who especially loves Iceland, and we spent most of our time together talking about Icelandic music and drinking Lithuanian beer. I met some of her friends and then collectively we made more friends, and one of them was working at a Medieval festival in Trakai, the former Lithuanian capital and an important medieval town. We went horse back riding there, under some strange angel totem poles, and enjoyed the view over the water to Trakai castle while larpers fought with swords nearby.

riding some big horses

riding some big horses

It was really summery in Lithuania, my allergies as proof, so I wanted to go to the beach. There´s a coastal town 3 and a half hours away from Vilnius called Klaipeda, but I didn´t realize the Baltic weather would be similar to Reykjavik. It was grey, rainy and barely 12°C, and even the wind started blowing so locals disappeared into the warmth of their houses whiles I wandered around an empty town and a half-stocked market. The actual port was cozy, even in the bad weather, but I was there all alone and wasn´t sure I should hop on the next ferry or just turn around and go back inland.

Kaunas

Kaunas

I decided to take the next bus to Kaunas, the second biggest city in Lithuania, 100km away from Vilnius. The weather improved and so did the number of people, and since it was a Friday night right after the local basketball team had won the National championship, it became a huge crowd, filling the streets and bars, and the skies with fireworks and green smoke. Lithuanians love basketball, more than Americans love NBA, and it must have something to do with the tall people. There aren´t that many, but the ones who are tall, are a lot taller. I also noticed that Lithuanians were all pretty good-looking people, and the grandmas are even cuter than Russian babushkas. I could barely take my eyes of them, which became a problem near the markets, since they all stand or squat on the side of the road holding a handful of either flowers or dill for sale. I don´t know how long it took them to sell one bunch, or how much money they got for it, but I guess it must be one form of retirement that´s working out.

one of the many newlyweds

one of the many newlyweds

They also love dill in Lithuania, the smell of it pouring out of every traditional kitchen. Every single produce vendor sold dill, and even though I don´t usually eat it, I made an exception and eventually started to like the taste of it. Lithuanians also love to get married on the first summer Saturday, which was apparently June 7 this year. I saw atleast 20 brides in Vilnius, and every church I passed had rose petals scattered all over the entrance. The limousines and beautiful bridesmaids hid behind every corner, and I actually stopped one local to find out it there was a movie being filmed or if there really were this many weddings that day.

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