Hello, blog fans.
I haven't posted much for a couple days - pretty much because not a lot has transpired this week so far.
The biggest thing - my thought that I beat jet lag after my 12-hour sleep the other day - nope. I've pretty much been sleeping for about two hours, then away for three or four (or more), then sleeping a few more hours. So, combining not really waking up until 11:00, along with cold/wet weather, and getting work done (after all, this is a work trip), I haven't really done a lot of traveling, exploring, or anything of much interest. The most excitement I've had is a couple trips to the grocery store. The good news is, I'm growing less afraid of grocery shopping.
Following my epically delicious dinner Saturday night, I came back to my BnB, put up my blog posts, then went to bed.
And 12 hours later, I woke up Sunday afternoon
This is the first continuous night of sleep I've had in a few days, and it felt marvelous. [Spoiler alert: as I write this on Monday morning, I ended up getting very little sleep last night]
So my Sunday afternoon was spent working on plans for post-Vilnius - what's next after I leave Lithuania. I'll be here until February 10, then a short flight back over to Moscow, overnight stay in a hotel at the airport, then my next flight to... TEXAS! Musescore will be at TMEA and I'm thrilled that I get to go along. Following TMEA, I'll be heading back to Russia and spending some time in Saint Petersburg before I'll eventually end up back home in South Carolina.
After finalizing these plans, my next stop was to head over the Lithuanian Academy of Theatre and Music (the National Conservatory), where I was invited to check out a Brass Band rehearsal. The walk over to that side of town was great, and I stumbled across a park with a public, outdoor ice skating rink set up.
Fine Dining, Fine Dinner
I came across a Lonely Planet post about things to do in Vilnius and came across the name of a restaurant a few blocks from my BnB - Ertlio Namas. I looked it up and was very intrigued by the concept of the current tasting menu offered by the chef: the history of Lithuania, as told by food. The courses featured were based on what agricultural and game products would have been available in the country and why one things was preferable over another. It was a great way to set up the dinner and ended up with some fantastic courses. I chose the six-course tasting menu (and, of course, the wine pairing).
So, continuing my epic battle against Jet Lag... I'm still on the losing side. After another late start to the day, I went out exploring, heading into a new direction. I thought I had a long walk ahead of me, but ended up actually very close by - which is great, because it meant I could check out more things than I thought was possible.
My walk today took me to the north/northeast from where my BnB is. I walked past Vilnius University (though did not explore too deeply), and then saw the Lithuanian Presidential Palace:
So I think the last couple days were a combination of being energized by being in a new place and consciousness largely fueled by coffee. After having a day or two in one place and far calmer than the previous, my body finally succumbed to the jet lag of being 7 hours off my normal timezone.
So last night, I went to bed at 11:00pm, then was wide awake from 1:00am on - I didn't get back to sleep until about 7:00am (by the way, the docuseries "Pandemic" on Netflix is great).
After sleeping until about 10:30, I dragged myself out of bed, made some coffee, eggs, and bacon (btw, brown eggs taste the same as white eggs, despite being less than half the price), then took a short walk around the neighborhood.
After completing my grocery shopping adventure yesterday, I made it out to one of the many malls in town. I didn't get any photos of them (yet?) - but what impressed me most is that they far surpassed the size of many American malls.
On the way to one of the malls, I passed a stadium that apparently was abandoned during construction. It's quite unusual to see just the skeleton of a stadium, with so many of the main components missing.
Day three: Vilnius, Lithuania
After arriving to Vilnius at the end of Day 2, my coworker (who has lived in the city for quite some time) took me out to dinner to show me the hospitality of the town.
Needless to say, Day 3 started, well, slow...
Once I got up and rolling, the biggest relief was not needing to be on the run to catch planes, trains, automobiles, or other forms of transportation. I finally have a comfortably long stay in one place.
As one does the first morning in a European town - I looked up the nearest bakery for breakfast: Crustum. It did not disappoint. A little breakfast sandwich, a pastry for dessert, and an Americano to get things rolling.
After finishing my breakfast, I set out on my task list: explore the town a bit, look for a new winter coat, and grocery shopping.
My AirBnB for my stay is in the Old Town, which is beautiful. The old architecture, winding cobblestone streets, and palpable sense of history are always one of the most invigorating parts of the trips I've taken to Europe over the past two years. Vilnius didn't fall short of the other cities I've been to.
As I started to walk around, I passed a field trip in the works...
So, after two full days of travel (roughly - it depends how you want to count it - but it was 11:00 at night where I was when I stopped traveling) - I finally made it to Kaliningrad. In the airport, the baggage claim was an advertisement for a casino, which also doubled as a convenient way to spot where your own bag was located on the belt:
The first day in Russia.
So after a long travel day(and a half), I’ve made it to Russia.
Columbia to Charlotte
Charlotte to London (overnight)
A nice, exhilarating early morning run through Heathrow to make my connection, to fly to Moscow.
At the first Moscow airport, I had to go through passport control and customs, get my suitcase - brush my teeth and change clothes - then get in an Uber (well, here, Yandex.Taxi) to travel across Moscow to the other airport.
The trip around Moscow (on their beltway) really looked at lot like any big city in the northeast - New York, Baltimore, etc. A fair amount of trees. Gas stations every couple miles. Lots of retail. The malls here make Texas look like tiny, podunk shopettes.
Made it to the second airport 3 hours early. I wasn’t sure what to expect with checking into my flight and handling security.
Step 1: they scan everybody at the front door
Step 2: checked in to my flight. Found an agent who spoke English and she took care of me.
Let’s see how this goes
So, in about a week and change, I’ll be leaving on a six week trip based mostly in Russia-ish.
I’ll be heading to the town of Kaliningrad, on the Baltic Sea. While it is a Russian State, the town and state of Kaliningrad isn’t connected to Mother Russia - there’s countries like Belarus and Ukraine between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia.
Not a ton more to say just now - merely kicking the blog off. I’ll attempt to post photos and other updates along the way!
This blog started to talk about travel and food. Now, it's slowly expanding to cover some other topics. Stick around!