Woke up to another gorgeous morning in Vilnius. We’re quickly learning that you should just ignore the weather forecasts, and the dire predictions of locals. Every day, the weather apps predict rain, and the locals talk about the terrible weather. And every day is brilliantly sunny with a few minutes of rain on and off. For some reason, everything here dries astonishingly quickly too.
We had a quiet morning reading and enjoying the sun, before meeting Petras for our food tour later in the morning. The food tour took us from the market to some local restaurants and shops, sampling pickled and fermented vegetables, local cheeses, drinks, and breads. A highlight was the “garlic bread” – deep fried strips of the local rye bread – dangerously addictive. Petras did an outstanding job of incorporating history into the tour, explaining the origins of the foods and their purpose in modern the Lithuanian diet. This included the major historical events that shifted local food culture through time and the little-known history of Lithuanian “high cuisine” which developed after the introduction of Italian chefs to the royal kitchens by Queen Bona Sforza in the early 1500s. He also shared lots of insights into the food of the Soviet period and the changes that have happened since then (he’s a bit older than us). It was great to get a chance to dive into that history.
We made a quick visit to the amber museum, which is in the basement of a jewelry studio. The Baltics are apparently the key supplier of amber to the world, owing to some unique natural history. The museum had a little bit of geological and natural history, along with selections of amber pieces capturing especially interesting insects or plants. It also has an “only in Europe” feature – there’s a couple ancient brick kilns in the museum as well, because they happened to discover them while digging the basement for the museum.
As we were wrapping up with Petras, we’d noticed some folks dressed in traditional clothing. Petras thought there might be some kind of festival happening, so we did a bit of Googling and discovered the ethnic music festival, which includes a series of concerts all over town. We went to the main stage in the local park, which also included a large selection of traditional craft vendors. What a win!
To wrap the day up, we wandered along the river bank and then hiked up the hill to the Gediminas castle complex, overlooking the city. It offers a stunning view and was even in earshot of the continuing folk music concert.
Rather than heading to a restaurant for dinner, we stopped back at one of the local farm grocery shops Petras introduced us to and bought some frozen mushroom dumplings and vegetables, so we could eat at home and enjoy our cozy apartment. Tomorrow is our last day in Vilnius – we’d originally planned to take a car quite a ways out of the city, but we’re adjusting our plans based on some tips from Petras. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.