Stockholm- A Culture Capital

Stockholm- A Culture Capital
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Baltic Series: Kaunas Lithuania

Kaunas- a city that acted as the Capital of Lithuania during war times is much smaller and more run down than Vilnius. To be honest if I was there completely alone, I think I would have seen it all in one day and left without being very impressed. However I was lucky enough to stay with an amazing couch surfing host- Marius. Marius is Lithuanian born and bred and he is also an architectural student so I was lucky to be imparted with all the history and architectural insight that would escape a foreigner wandering the streets.

Kaunas may be small, but it has a very old and charming center and the old town is wedged between two rivers lined with decorative slopes. I would suggest going in historical order in this city to see its evolution. Start with the old Kaunas Castle and the park around it, then move into the old quarter that is all brick work and cobbles. This is the best place to find live music, traditional Lithuanian food and religious and mercantile buildings dating back to the XV Century. If you have never had the chance to try the Russian borscht you can try the Lithuanian version Saltibarsciai- a beet soup served cold with sour cream and a side of hot potatoes with dill.

Once you have browsed the traditional little shops around the center continue to the slightly less charming, but fascinating Soviet area down the street Laisves Aleja. Here you can find more shops, museums, statues and the beautiful St. Michael the Archangel Church. The center does not provide much else.

I was however taken to a Devil museum! Lithuanians love three things- Mysticism, Basketball, and hating on Russians. The Devil museum falls under the first category and had a collection of devils from Old Lithuanian times and from all around the world. Basketball is everywhere, even decaled in flowers on the side of the river, and even though many Soviet buildings remain the Lithuanians make sure to denounce them and most Russian politics quite regularly.

The best part of Kaunas for me was spending time with the locals and drinking and snacking by the river while the sun sat. It was invaluable for my understanding of the country and the Lithuanian people. Although I may not specifically take a trip to Kaunas in the future I would tag it as a must if you were planning on touring this small and unique country.

1 comment:

  1. glad the couch surfing worked out well :) The Devil Museum sounds intriguing :) xx