Vilnius, day 1
Since the free walking tours in Tallinn and Riga were such great ways to get a bigger picture of each city, I opted to do another one in Vilnius on my first full day. But first, breakfast. I ran into these friendly kids on the way.
I had arrived too late for Mano Guru’s breakfast menu, so I tried a traditional Latvian salad (€2.40) with my coffee (€1.20). The salad contains boiled potatoes and carrots, hard-boiled eggs, pickled peas and gherkins, and slices of steamed chicken. It’s heavy on the mayonnaise and very filling. I think it’s an upgrade from the American idea of a potato salad.
I’ll actually cover the walking tour in its own post since there were so many interesting topics, so this post picks back up after the official tour ended and our guide Martina led anyone who was interested to a local pub called Būsi Trečias. About 16 of us sat around a couple of wooden picnic tables outside and ordered beer, pink soup (beetroot, onions, cream, dill, served with a side of boiled potatoes; €1.50), potato pancakes, and fried bread with cheese and mayonnaise sauce (€1.50). Even though the pink soup looks like Pepto-Bismol, I enjoyed it on the hot day we were having.
Cecilia (a nurse) and her boyfriend Taavet (originally from Estonia) had to leave early to get their bus tickets to Poland, but I hope to meet up with them again in Hong Kong for New Year’s Eve!
Sarah and Chris (my new Québécois buddies: a fashion designer and a Cisco network specialist) agreed that we should go exploring some more food, drinks, and art in the city, so we started at Local T, where Martina said we should be able to find gilių kava (acorn coffee). They do indeed have it on their menu, but because manufacturers are making less and less of it, they didn’t have it in stock. Instead, we tried their jam teas. Chris got one with cherry jam, Sarah got one with sea buckthorn jam with ginger, and I got one with just sea buckthorn jam (€1.80 each, €0.09 off for smiling). They put a little piece of dry ice in each cup so that smoke starts pouring out of the top.
Then we went around the corner to Meat Lovers Pub because I noticed that they have a horse burger on their menu. They have many hand-cranked meat grinders decorating the interior, and the local unfiltered lager that Chris and I each ordered was floral and delicious (€2.40 for 0.5L). Sarah and Chris both ordered beef carpaccio platters (€5.80 each), and they seemed pretty happy with their selection. My horse burger (€7.30) was a touch spicy and chunky. Yum! Per Martina’s suggestion, we also tried the chocolate cake (€3.20), which had more of an ice cream texture than a cakey one. Chris also approved of his crème brûlée (€2.50). Québécois know their French foods!
We walked through the Gates of Dawn on the south side of town on our way to the Putin/Trump mural that Martina mentioned during the walking tour. This city gate is the only one remaining out of the original five that were part of the now non-existent city wall. You can visit the gate to see a blinged out portrait of the Virgin Mary.
Keulė Rūkė is the barbecue restaurant and bar on which the Putin/Trump mural resides. It’s a great attraction to pull in customers: we went in and got some more of the local unfiltered lager we encountered at Meat Lovers Pub. We enjoyed them in the backyard where the armchairs are made of old bathtubs.
I stumbled upon a Roman numeral faced clock above the entrance of a market built in 1906. The clock attracted my attention because it’s one of the few examples I’ve encountered that uses
IV rather than four
Is for “four”. Even though
IIII is not the correct way to write “four” in Roman numerals, the vast majority of clock faces that use Roman numerals write it this way, most likely for visual symmetry with the heavy
VIII on the opposite side.
Sarah, Chris, and I also tried going to Varaso Terasa, an outdoor live music venue, but it started raining steadily, and I didn’t feel like listening to loud smooth jazz. So we called it a night, and I headed back to my hostel. It was so much fun to hang out with them today! I hope their one-year trip goes smoothly.