“Look at those beautiful birch trees!”
My delight was profound. Our Eurotrip started in a very picturesque way, as we left the Kaunas airport and headed into the city. I love the forest, always have. Having grown up in the north of Ukraine and moved to Cyprus years ago, I miss home. So, every time I get to the woodlands after it rains and breathe in the light fresh smell of earth, I feel unexpected joy deep down. Our first hours in Lithuania felt like home to me.
Vilnius, the city I knew I would fall in love with a at first sight, was the first stop on our way through Europe. Everything was perfect there: a quaint Old Town, cobblestone streets, and a surprisingly pleasant atmosphere impregnated with Baltic elegance.
Before Milan, there were three of us (me, my husband, and my mom), so we didn’t have many options when choosing a place to stay — either we had to book two separate hotel rooms, or an apartment for 2+1. We ended up going with the second option; a one bedroom apartment in the Vilnius Symphony Apartments aparthotel.
It was a solid 10 out of 10 in all areas: a bright interior design, a beautiful modern snow-white kitchen, and a heated floor in the bathroom — if it also had a balcony and some kind of an entrance hall, then it would be the exact embodiment of my dream apartment. Plus, the Old Town was right across the street, just a few steps away! This deserves a special mention, because it seems to be that finding a hotel with such an excellent price/quality/location ratio is almost impossible.
Our first 36 hours in Vilnius were dedicated to exploring the Old Town and hanging out in local cafes/restaurants.
Before we left for our trip, our friends from Kyiv strongly encouraged up to try the traditional food of cepelinai while we were in Vilnius. We did, and perhaps many people would like this; however, I didn’t like it so much (but I am not a big fan of dumplings altogether). It is still recommended for you to try, as it is very popular amongst Lithuanian culture!
I really recommend one place in particular: a wonderful restaurant called Kavinė Klaipėdos Senamiestis.
The intimate atmosphere, the cottage cheese pie, the delicious pork with garlic sauce… I could praise it for hours. When I revisit Vilnius, I will definitely return.
To get to know the local life, we visited the mall, nearby stores, the local promenade with sports fields, and walked around the city watching air balloons fly over beautiful buildings.
Oh, had I known we were going to buy 8(!) pairs of shoes (size 48) that occupied much more of our already overpacked luggage, I would have completely excluded shopping from our itinerary (I guess this happens when your husband is inordinately tall and you can’t find shoes bigger than size 45 in Cyprus).
We continued our gastronomic discoveries by visiting Dirty Duck Pub.
Yummy food (we had specialties with duck), tasty cocktails, but a bit too crowded for me (I’m also not a fan of nightclubs for this reason). However, their nice panoramic view of the nearby square left an unforgettable impression.
And after that, we went to Astorija Bar & Library for desserts and people watching; it was perfect for both of these things.
All in all:
I must mention that Vilnius pleasantly impressed me in terms of livability. If you are looking for a place to live that has a good local infrastructure, where you can dress stylishly, and be culturally enriched, then you may consider Vilnius. It is a pleasant combination of European charm with a bit of USSR period leftover.
During our visit we joked that if we are to move to another country again, it would definitely be to Lithuania. There’s a grain of truth in every joke, isn’t there? I would love freelancing in the local coffee shops, and to one day perhaps establish an office close to the center. Everything is relatively cheap (compared to Cyprus), and the lifestyle is closer to a Ukrainian one.
We are definitely not ready to move from Cyprus anytime soon, but we will come back to Vilnius for a short visit again. Next time, we will definitely take a ride on a hot air balloon over the city, do some shopping (no more size 48 shoes though!), see a few theater performances, go inside the churches, and enjoy the evening panorama of the city from the TV tower.
In the meantime, our path lies further; through Bergamo, a short stop at a friend’s place in Vercane, and onto Lugano.