Saturday, June 23, 2012

VNO: Hot Chicks in the Vatikan of the North

Vilnius was definitely the one stop on my "roadshow" that I was most excited about. I had never been to Lithuania, and, frankly, knew little more about this country than that it was one of the Baltic states and had a very unusual language. Having been exposed to it for 3 days, I find the language even more fascinating. Did you know it is the most archaic Indo-European language, with strong ties to Sanskrit?

Language apart, I was more than pleasantly surprised by this lovely city, well: town. I joked to my Lithuanian host that in the vein of calling every other place the "Venice of the North" or the "Paris of the East", Vilnius should really be dubbed the "Vatikan of the North" due to the incredible amount of churches.

What I found very noticeable, and this might sound a really strange coming from a woman, was the high percentage of exceptionally pretty girls. And I mean really pretty in the sense of model-material. The men were nothing to write home about, read: average, but the girls! Model scouts will have a field-day in Vilnius and, as my host aptly pointed out, they are really set apart from their Baltic and Slavic sisters by their dress-sense: not slutty at all, but very stylish and laid-back, making them look more Scandinavian or Dutch with their (mostly) dark-blonde , (mostly) long hair and blue eyes. 

Related to this style-topic, I noticed that you can find most international brands here (incl. M&S with a small "real" food section that sells more than just tea and crisps) plus several Scandinavian ones that haven't made it to central Europe. I went a little crazy in a Lithuanian store specialising in linen and bought several scarves. Prices were amazing and the quality and colour-range very good. Overall, prices are very competitive and below European average: at one of the many local coffee-shops (Starbucks doesn't have a branch here yet, I was told), such as Coffee Inn, you pay the equivalent of € 2.5 for a small latte and cookie. The only time I was not treated to dinner, I just wanted to grab a quick bite and ended up at the Finnish chain Hesburger, where I paid less than € 3.5 for a kebab (I know, very strange choice for me as I would never order that at home, but it was the only option I could see in a different type of bread than a classic burger-bun - I don't like burgers and their salads didn't look very inviting) + small drink + small fries.

So here are some pictures to show you a bit of Vilnius. Being much more Northern in geographic location than Vienna, the days were noticeably longer and the sun shone until 9:30 p.m. I will definitely be back to Lithuania - if not on business, then as a tourist.
Vilnius Cathedral with bell-tower 




Girls dressed like this are actually the minority...
Hot-air-ballooning is big in Vilnius
Vilnius Castle by dusk is a popular spot for couples
View from Vilnius Castle
One of the local answers to Starbucks
I really liked the DIY concept of this frozen yoghurt store: choose from several flavours, toppings and syrups and then pay by weight: mine came to about EUR 1.5
Example of what the Lithuanian language looks like

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