Its effortless charm hugs you like a crazy, artistic friend you haven’t seen in ages. Even though being a capital, Vilnius seems more of a city where a bohemian festival never ends. It has an incredibly vibrant, young yet dignified atmosphere.
I spent there only few days during summer 2014, but wish to visit again every weekend. Vilnius – the gem of Baltic region invites anybody with a calling for an authentic, colorful, bohemian lifestyle.
If you ever come to Vilnius, make sure to:
- go to vinyl shop near the Gate of Dawn,
- eat some cepelinai (traditional Lithuanian pork-stuffed potato dumplings),
- wander around bohemian district Užupis,
- look in the eyes of legendary poet Adam Mickiewicz (on the photo)
- (this one’s obligatory!) go out at night to Old Square to get amazed by the white walls of Cathedral, shining mysteriously in the moonlight.
This beautiful city is just one of a kind. Still not popular enough among tourists, but that’s what keeps it out of mainstream, very cozy and simply charming.
I visited Vilnius back in June 2014. It was the meeting point and a start of Roadtrip Lithuania – a social project, organized by AIESEC Lithuania.
In short, Roadtrip Lithuania was a 6-weeks long, meaningful adventure across the country. Being part of the international group of 6 volunteers was a dream come true as the project was a pure definition of what I call ‘awesome’. We were packed in a small hippie bus with a mission to travel around Lithuania, give presentations about our culture in local educational and social institutions, get to know Lithuanian traditions, places and people, and document everything like true travel journalists.
I will guide you through the beautiful country of Lithuania, using the voice of Roadtrip materials. To find full content simply go to roadtriplithuania14.blogspot.com. Photo and video credits belong to Rogelio Robledo, Kamia Fernandez, Li Wu, Caterina Falvo and Zé Vieira Lopes.
Stop number 1: Vilnius, where WIND BLOWS with bohemian feeling of freedom.
Her name is Kamia, she is 18 years old and she is from the Philippines. She loves cinema. His name is Rogelio, he’s a 20-year old Mexican photographer. Her name is Cate, she is from Italy and she’s 23 years old. Her ‘thing’ is singing and art. His name is Zé, 20 years old, he comes from Portugal. A fan of filmmaking and travel. Her name is Karo, a 23-years old Polish girl, who loves journalism and music. His name is Li, he comes from China but lives in USA. Who are those people? Randomly existing somewhere in different parts of the world, living their lives? No. They all came all the way to Lithuania to create an amazing team of the Roadtrip project!
What’s that? Well, Roadtrip Lithuania is a unique project organized by the largest students organization – AIESEC, the Local Committee of Vilnius ISM. The goal of Roadtrip is to promote responsible tourism by impacting the local society and developing creativity. 6 young people from 6 different countries of the world will go across Lithuania in a classic hippie bus – exploring, discovering, travelling, meeting the culture and people.
Those are the cold facts, but what about what’s behind the scenes? When we arrived, we haven’t known each other before; we only knew each other’s names, nationalities and few things we included in our get-to-know videos uploaded on the Roadtrip Facebook fanpage. And we are supposed to spend 4 weeks in the same bus…? That surely seemed like a challenge. So the first day, when we actually met each other, was on Thursday, when I came from Poland at 8 am after 14-hours trip and saw 4 of my teammates in their…pyjamas. That’s because I picked them up from the Center Stay Hostel where they were sleeping that night. ‘Hello, I’m Karo’, ‘hello, I’m Kamia’… and so on. OK. Silence. But later, when we actually went on our first walk, we quickly discovered that we will not have a problem with team bonding.
Those first 3 days spent in Vilnius were amazingly surprising, quite intense, unexpected and incredibly warm (even despite of occasional rain pouring from the sky). We walked through the city with not 1, not 2, but 3 different maps (somehow a lot of people just liked to give us free maps!). But despite of being so well-equipped, we still managed to get lost. We were wandering around Vilnius, discovering its hidden places, graveyards filled with light and shadows, cozy art galleries and spacious green parks.
We visited the Culture Night of Vilnius and it was absolutely amazing – starting from every gate when we could meet the street artist, through the fact that almost every inch of the main street was filled with the beautiful music played by very talented street musicians, ending with the general magic atmosphere of the whole event. The Vilnius Culture Night is definitely something to recommend to anybody who wants to explore this artistic city. And the ‘silent disco’ thing in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night – this is definitely something everybody should try at least once in their lives. Plus, we got to know many Lithuanians, who were always surprising us with their kindness and friendly attitude. We even managed to have our own ‘group grandma’!
Between those walks and talks with Lithuanian people, we had a chance to get to know each other more. How? I can recall moments like a loud group wondering about the fact that a lot of people were carrying flowers (it’s because of graduations, as we discovered later), waving to every dog or cat we saw on the street, reading the Užupis disctrict constitutions in our languages, eating lunch on the stairs of the City Hall… It took us only one day to decide that we have to make a ‘family dinner’ – which we did, on Friday night, when there was the Italy-Costa Rica FIFA Championship match. We cooked our traditional dishes, talked about our countries, we even invented our own nicknames.
We also had a chance to get to know the ISM Local Committee of AIESEC – we were invited to their Local Committee Meeting, where we met other interns who came here to experience their exchanges. The atmosphere of more than 20 people from all around the world, sharing the same vision, working in order to have a positive impact on the local society, and having loads of fun at the same time – that was just an amazing thing to watch and be part of.
Now, we are just about to meet our lovely bus and hit the road. We are excited, we are prepared to meet the unexpected and we have tons of ideas how to showcase our experience. We are Kamia, Rogelio, Cate, Zé, Karo and Li from Roadtrip Lithuania and we already love our trip before it started. So brace yourself, the Roadtrippers are coming!