Sunday, 20 May 2012

Kaunas & Vilnius, Lithuania, 4.-6.5.2012, Day 2

On our second and final day, we had breakfast at the hotel, then checked out and went out to explore the city of Kaunas, which turned out to be a lovely place, too. The weather was all sunny and summery and I was extremely pleased! We wandered back to Laisvės Alėja and noticed it's filled with lovely cafés and restraurants during the daytime. How could we possibly resist? We had to go to one of the coffeeshops right away!

These were filled with banana pieces, yum!
Then we continued to walk towards the Old Town, every once in a while stopping to take pictures or sit on a park bench along the promenade.

Kaunas has many twin cities, among them Tampere, Växjö and Los Angeles!

The flag of Kaunas.

Tiina is trying to decide where to go next.

The Old Town - gorgeous!

Nuns! Always a sight for someone from a basically nunless country!

Kaunas City Hall.


Excuse me while I'm a teenager for a moment - KAUNO PILIS, heheheeeee...(this is aimed for the Finnish-speaking people with as underdeveloped a mind as mine...)

Kaunas Cathedral Basilica

On our way back, we stopped at a restaurant called Pizza Jazz, which was really great! The sun was shining and it was heavenly to sit outside...

...till along came Thunder and Lightning...and no, they're not the men sitting by that table :D. It started to pour rain and eventually we had to go inside, after having a laugh with practically everyone sitting outside :D.

We then had to brave the storm and run to the shopping centre Akropolis. Which seemed like a great place for shopping, only we weren't there to do that. But yes, it's a very modern and very big place, lots of good shops and restaurants, it seemed!

Our very cheap bus ticket to the airport. You can catch city bus #29 to and from the airport if you're arriving or leaving at a time when the buses are still running. Make sure to check what time your bus leaves as on a Sunday, there was one bus per hour.

A museum park to remember the victims of some war - which one, I forget. Quite possibly World War 2.

And that's it, my friends. What can I say - go to Lithuania! It's worth it! With Kaunas, make sure you go there when it's warm because as there's not that much to do there, at least you'll be able to enjoy the lovely atmosphere and the many outdoors cafés and restaurants the city has to offer.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Kaunas & Vilnius, Lithuania, 4.-6.5.2012, Day 1

New York for my 30th birthday was supposed to be my next trip after London but what do you know, I suddenly found myself booking flights to Kaunas for a weekend in May...I've been desperate to travel lately and just can't seem to stay put at all so this trip was much needed. Why somewhere like Kaunas, you might wonder? Where is it even? Well, Ryanair fly there from Tampere, it's the old capital of Lithuania, and I'd never been to Lithuania before. That's reason enough for me! Again, I went with my devoted travel companion Tiina, who was amazing enough to do all the arrangements and find information on Kaunas and Vilnius for us as I was too busy with work to think. Also, this was a real low-budget trip for a change: the flights were 52€, the hotel maybe 60€/person for two nights and I had 100€ with me, of which I spent half during the trip. A weekend in another country for approximately 150€? Not bad at all!

The flight from Tampere to Kaunas leaves pretty late in the evening, around 10 pm, which means that when you arrive in Kaunas, you won't be able to catch the Ryanair bus or whatever it is to the city centre. The thing to do, therefore, is to book a taxi in advance, preferably through your hotel. Apparently, in Lithuania, it's more expensive to catch a taxi from the street than it is if you've booked it in advance. So, there was a taxi driver holding a sign with Tiina's name on it waiting for us at the airport, and off we sped to our hotel, Park Inn Kaunas. A very nice hotel indeed, I think it was either four or five stars. The taxi cost something like 15€ from the airport to the hotel, by the way, so it wasn't too bad at all, especially if you get to share it with someone.

Our hotel was close to Laisvės Alėja, a lovely promenade leading to the Old Town, and also right next to Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, which is quite an impressive building at one end of the promenade. Lovely! I can definitely recommend the hotel!

My breakfast at the hotel.

In the morning, we left for Vilnius. As we only had two days in Lithuania, we'd decided to spend the first of them in the capital and the second in Kaunas. It's ridiculously cheap to travel by train in Lithuania - the fastest train will take you from Kaunas to Vilnius in one hour and 10 minutes and for that you pay around 5€! In Finland, you'd pay over 20€...Anyway, I thought the train trip was extremely interesting as the minute you leave Kaunas, it's all beautiful countryside and tiny train stations. Quite idyllic!

The view from our floor at the hotel in Kaunas.

Our train to Vilnius.

Myself and Tiina :).

I loved Vilnius! We basically spent the day walking around, admiring the many churches (I had no idea Lithuania was a Catholic country - for whatever twisted reason, Catholism is my favourite religion because it contains so many beautiful elements, which I'm not going to get into right now, and their churches are the most beautiful churches in the world), enjoying the sunshine (it was basically summer in Lithuania while they'd predicted snow for Finland for the weekend we were away...) and eating various things along the way. Thus, I'll just go straight to the pictures as this wasn't one of those trips where I run from place to place like a madwoman, making sure I see all the sights the place in question has to offer...

See? Summer <3!

Rotušės square.

We waited for these pizzas for almost two hours...the waitress also originally brought us something we didn't order and got mad at us when we told her it wasn't what we'd said we'd want...geeee...but these pizzas were excellent :).

Cathedral Square

Gediminas Castle

Three Crosses Hill

A view from Gediminas Hill

Kiwi ice cream!

The Presidential Palace

Gates of Dawn

And then it was back to Kaunas!
It was a great day and I really fell in love with Lithuania! It's such a pretty country with lots of nature and old buildings everywhere, just gorgeous! I felt very relaxed all the time even though we spent the whole day walking.

When we arrived back in Kaunas, we had a look around the promenade before heading back to the hotel for dinner and then to our room for the night.

Church of Saint Michael the Archangel in Kaunas

Laisvės Alėja

Me and my pasta at the hotel - see, one day of sunshine and I'm already all sunburnt :D!

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