When preparing for this trip I put in some heavy research hours.
Not only were the countries I visited new to me, but there was also a distinct lack of information available online regarding what to do and what to see-- something that consistently disappoints me when I’m trying to find info on anywhere outside of western Europe.
I was lucky, though, to have a friend from Boston who is living in Vilnius for the summer and was happy to provide some tips.
As she had warned, the Vilnius’s old city is absolutely enchanting, but in that unassuming way that leaves you wanting to get to know it over a cup of coffee. Known around the world for its mix of classical European architecture styles including baroque and gothic. All of its buildings have been remarkably well preserved.
It is difficult to describe Vilnius, since the city is somewhat, for lack of a better word, shy. Think of it as that one friend who is almost unnervingly quiet, but becomes the life of the party once you get them out of their shell.
In an effort to avoid any further rambling I’ll be showcasing its beauty in pictures.
The Independent Republic of Uzupis
A few years ago I shared an article with a friend that I now realize was about Uzupis. The piece focused on the satirical levity of a ‘newly independent’ nation’s constitution which contains some absolute gems, which I’ll get to in a moment.
The Republic of Uzupis declared its independence on April fools day in 1997 and is officially known as Res Publika Užupio because, while they have many of the necessary structures for functional independence (such as a bar where their parliament, or “barliament” holds regular sessions, and their very own passport stamp) they can't actually claim to be a republic. Instead, they settle for being a neighborhood of Vilnius, known as the artsy or hipster district (similar to SoHo in New York or Montmartre in Paris). This is also where the famous mural of Trump and Putin kissing can be found.
Their constitution includes clauses reading "everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation" and "a dog had the right to be a dog." Needless to say, I think I’ve found my people.
So, while Vilnius may not be an internationally renowned destination, I found that it will welcome anyone and everyone with open arms, some liquid bread, and a good joke-- If you’re looking for a quick escape from your real world, this might just be the perfect place.