…it looked like a bunch of aliens from the planet ribble had parked their wobbly blobship on top of the Cathedral. But, alas, no. What actually happened was that a bunch of aliens from Nottingham appeared in September and inflated this, erm, thing. They call themselves the Architechts of Air, and they call the thing a luminarium. It’s a sophisticated bouncy castle, but instead of removing your shoes to bounce on top of it, you remove your shoes and go inside it. And it’s bizzare, like being in a modern art student’s brain. Light is filtered through translucent "walls" to create an atmosphere that is like nothing you haven’t experienced before, and the rooms and avenues were as "chilled" as they were inflated. Most amazing, however, was the queue. People were standing for four hours, sometimes in the rain, to get into a blow-up toy. Clearly they hadn’t heard that in July this year a similar inflatable folly (made by a different company) parted company with the ground in England and sprinkled its inhabitants over a field. Happily, no such excitement occured in Vilnius…
…once you’ve been released into the arrivals hall, turn hard-right to find an ATM which will happily issue Lithuanian litas in inconveniently large denominations…
…with so much going for it, the city could be run by a damp cardboard box full of petulant monkeys and still prosper…
…there are also numerous other locations around Lithuania which claim to be the burial place of Gediminas, so unless he was hacked to pieces and scattered about the nation, we think it is unlikely that this place has any significance at all.
Where To Stay > Private accommodation > Regina House
A range of flats in excellent Old Town locations, one with a huge balcony overlooking a church which, according to their website, is nice in "worm season," and another with a lovely fireplace.
Restaurants > Middle Eastern > Orient X-Press
Upstairs it looks like someone who was eating a mirror has sneezed onto the blue painted walls, while downstairs there’s a tunnel-like dining room. It’s all a bit strange, and the menu follows suit with Uzbek, Portugese, Georgian, Karaite kibinai, and a hot dog.
Cafes > Starz
A sign on the door says "hot beer, lousy food, bad service," so you think to yourself: "this must be a fun place," but no! It’s not an unfunny joke. It’s a statement of fact. The service really is bad. We waited an hour without being allowed to sample the hot beer or lousy food. But we could see into the kitchen where a man with tampant girly tresses and no hat dished up the food – so somebody’s going to get a hair in their food.
Cafes > SMC (Contemporary Art Centre)
It’s a dark, grismal box full of hirsute hi-jinks in the cooler months – the sort of place where games of chess are happening in which nobody knows whose move it is, and there always seems to be some kind of furniture Tetris happening that ensures you will meet people who you’d probably rather not. It’s casual, cruisy, can be a bit crazy and is always unpretentious and good fun.
Bars > Absento Fejos (Absinthe Fairies)
If Johnny Depp and Milla Jovovich go together and did something that enabled them to give birth to a cocktail bar, this would be it.
Clubs > Absinth Code
We thought there were four people in here, but then we realised that the two corner walls behind the dance floor are mirrors, and all four people were the same person. Then we drank lost of absinthe and found out that all twelve of the four people were also the same person as well. Most of them were enjoying the turn of the century time-warp decoration, musical all-sorts, and the layout with a good mix of spaces for sitting, dancing, and bar-perching.
Nightlife > Gravity
The novelty of burrowing through the long concrete tunnel to this former Soviet bomb shelter hasn’t worn off, but once inside, the once-stylish decor is getting dated, run-down, and grotty. It certainly bombs out in comparison to the newer clubs. As one clubber put it: "It’s like being on drugs but without the drugs."
Nightlife > Metro
A waste of a hole in the ground. This basement venue was almost empty when we checked it out and it didn’t take long before the few staff and bewildered patrons all tacitly agreed that it would be best to give up, lock up, and leave. The half-hearted pocket-money setup – orange walls, black vinyl seats, tiled floor, no idea – won’t please anyone and it probably won’t be long before the premisis is restored to its rightful low-rent purpose of selling used prosthetic limbs or vacuum cleaner parts. It sucks.
Medieval Vilnius Tour
One of the new tourist adventures available in Vilnius is a walk along the old city wall. Now a tour of a wall might sound about as interesting as, say, an exploration of a doorknob, but what makes the old Vilnius city wall interesting is that it doesn’t exist anymore.
Activities and Sports > The Flying Basket Case (Hot Air Ballooning)
Flights must end before sunset, when your pilot will park your basket on someone’s picnic, or in the middle of a paddock containing a bewildered cow (Best not to wear your finest shoes).
Activities and Sports > Snow and Ice > Ice Palace (Ledo Rumai)
…you can also go to watch the fights and see a hockey game break out.
Don’t think that the "In Your Pocket" guides are just pith and irony. They do a very good job of getting to the point when discussing attractions with great historical or cultural signifigance:
What to See > Orthodox Churches > Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit (Staciatikiu Sv. Dvasios Cerkve)
See the well-preserved bodies of the martyred Saints Anthony, Ivan, and Eustachius, who are clothed in white during the Christmas period, black during Lent, and red on all other occasions bar each June 26, when they are displayed naked. It is reported that on this day at this place a huge healing presence is felt.
…in Lithuania and Eastern Europe, it is widely believed and aknowledged that when people die, their souls lake leave someplace far away but return on All Saint’s Eve to visit their loved ones…For All Saint’s Day, people try to communicate with the spirits by leaving food on their tables and lighting candles so they can find their way home. If you would like to experience the beauty of All Saint’s Day, it is best witnessed from the sky as candles are strewn about every cemetery as sad relatives parade on through…
Saltoniskiu Cemetery (Saltoniskiu kapines)
By Soviet order, all Jewish graves were moved to this contemporary cemetery. Among them the grave of Gaon of Vilna, commemorated by a massive monument. Instead of being transferred, many graves were plundered for use in masonry throughout the city. Before 1991, the steps leading to the Trade Union Hall at Mykolaicio-Putino 5 were made from Jewish gravestones.