Undiscovered gem of Eastern Europe.
Oh my lovely home country Lithuania. Yeah, I can almost hear you thinking “Lithu…what?”. That’s right- Lithuania. Those of you who have heard this word before most likely know it best from immigrant workers and basketball. But there is much, MUCH more to it.
The country itself is located in the Eastern Europe, although not too long ago it was officially assigned to Northern Europe, which, honestly, most of Lithuanians are quite happy about. Although currently relatively small in size (and number of citizens), historically it once was one of the biggest countries in Europe ever. Lithuanians generally tend to complain about Lithuania, but make no mistake- only we can say bad things about our home country.
We take huge pride in our past and it is the biggest source of our love for the nation. We were the first country to leave Soviet Union, but doing that came with a price. Many people were killed by the soviets in peaceful protest, where people held hands and sang our traditional songs to show the soviets and the world, that we are our own nation, that we are a sovereign country and no one could ever take that away from us. Lithuania still has big ties with Russia, maybe not as much politically, but definitely culturally.
Pretty much all of middle aged and older people here speak Russian, as it was a mandatory practice in schools to learn the language when we were under the Soviet control. But that is only the case with older people, the younger generation do not usually speak Russian and are much more likely to speak English as their second language. If you are interested in learning new languages, Lithuanian can be a hard nut to crack, as it is one of the oldest surviving languages in Europe and has not changed that much since the Middle Ages. But, without exception, each and every Lithuanian would be more than happy to teach you a few words (especially curses).
Although more provincial citizens of Lithuania might not agree, but frankly Lithuania is currently and historically a very welcoming country. We always try to show our best side to tourists. It is very important to a Lithuanian, that a person visiting our country leaves with the best memories and opinions of us (also hoping that the tourists spread the word how great the country is to their foreigner friends). Although I must warn you right away- we can appear a bit cold and hard to engage. You cannot simply say Hi and expect everyone to be your friend. When approached we usually anticipate a person having something to say. You must be an individual and show that you have some substance, something to interest us with or else you might seem dishonest or simply not worth wasting our time on.
The city I would like to introduce you to is the capital Vilnius. The reason for that is it is the most culturally diverse city in the whole country. From many different kinds religious sanctuaries, to landmarks, which take you back in time in an instant, to cuisines from around the world, to nightlife- I am certain there is something in this city for absolutely everyone, no matter what are your interests.
I understand this might not seem as the best sales pitch — heck maybe I am a bad salesman. But I can promise you this: through the course of this literary documentary series I will tell you everything you need to know about Vilnius, all the details and stories, which only a person who’s lived here could know. I’ll give it to you raw (that’s what she said) and with no sugar coating. I’ll tell you just exactly what it means to experience Vilnius. So, if you’d like, you are more than welcome to hop on board and take this journey with me. If not, then don’t. I don’t really care.