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Culture Archives - MAP AND MOVE

How to Spend 2 Interesting Days in Unexpected Vilnius, Lithuania

By | Baltic States, Europe, Trip | No Comments

Medieval churches sit on old cobblestone streets and everything melts into a pink mirage come sunset. It’s almost hard to believe that you can find a renegade republic and shoot a Tommy gun in the same city. Here are our tips.

 

Get A City Tour of Old Vilnius

Vilnius is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the largest surviving (and arguably most gorgeous) medieval quarters in Europe. Case in point: the 13th century St Ann's Church.

Vilnius is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the largest surviving (and arguably most gorgeous) medieval quarters in Europe. Case in point: the 13th century St Ann’s Church.

St. Anne’s Church Complex

I’m not usually a fan of tours, but there’s more than meets the eye with this old city and the best way to appreciate its history is to take a free city tour. They start in Town Hall and you can get info at any hostel or hotel.

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St. Casimir’s Cathedral

Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania is the stuff that fairytales are made of. Another favorite: the fluffy, bubble gum exterior of St. Casimir’s Cathedral.

Find the Runaway Republic of Užupis and Get Your Passport Stamped

Here, you can cross the bridge to Užupis, the renegade district that has declared itself an independent republic. It has its own flag, currency, president, cabinet of ministers and constitution- all fittingly made official on April 1st, 1997.

Cross the bridge and walk over the Vilnia River to the neighborhood of Užupis. The renegade district has declared itself an independent republic from Lithuania since April 1st, 1997. (Notice the date.) The republic has its own flag, currency, president, cabinet of ministers, and of course, constitution (see below).

Go inside the cafe pictured above, and a waitress will knowingly nod her head, reach inside of a drawer, and make your stay Užupis official with a passport stamp.

Come on April 1st, Užupis’ Independence Day and get your passport stamped. If you can’t make it then, the Republic is forgiving. Just go inside the Užupis Cafe (pictured above), and a waitress will knowingly nod her head, reach inside of a drawer, and bestow upon you a stamp of validation.

Bridge to Užupis

Go back outside and take a flight of steps until you’re under the bridge. Find the swing over the river and make merry!

Off to the side of the bridge, spot a whimsical mermaid.

Off to the side of the bridge, spot a whimsical mermaid.

Užupis!

On the bridge, find some love locks.

The Užupis Constitution

Take a 10-minute walk to Paupio Street, and you’ll find the Constitution of Užupis fixed to the wall. It declares perfectly just statements like: “Man has the right to individuality”, “a dog has the right to be a dog”, and my personal favorite, “a cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need.”

Climb up the Bell Tower of Vilnius University

Bell Tower of the University of Vilnius

Climb the Bell Tower of the University of Vilnius for an amazing spread of the city.

Bell Tower of the University of Vilnius

Voilà!

Bell Tower of the University of Vilnius

Change Courses and Shoot a Gun in an Open Field

Shooting in Lithuania

Take advantage of the plethora of artillery choices and the wide open fields, and book a session at a gun range. Our instructor picked us up from our hostel and drove 30 minutes outside of Old Town.

Shooting in Lithuania Shooting in Lithuania

Catch a stellar Sunset

St. Casimir’s Cathedral

Enter through Bernardine Park, stroll along the river and climb up Hill of Three Crosses.

Check out the view of Old Vilnius from the Hill of Three Crosses.

Check out Old Vilnius from the Hill of Three Crosses.

Spy Gediminas Tower off in the distance, the very last bits of the Upper Castle of Vilnius. Lithuania.

Spy Gediminas Tower off in the distance. It’s the very last bit of the Upper Castle that’s still standing in Old Vilnius.

Sunset

Contemplate life, or nothing at all, but remember to come prepared with a bottle of wine.

Take a night stroll through Old Town

Cathedral Square

Cathedral Square.

 lazy dinner among the quaint cobblestone streets along Vilnius University:

Finish off by walking along Pilles Street. It runs from Cathedral Square to Town Hall and it’s line with cafes, small shops and artwork being sold along the street. Our rec: Forto Dvaras for local dishes like meat zeppelins, wild mushroom soup, and deep-fried cod.

The Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, Lithuania

Walk all the way to the southern edge of Old Vilnius and rendezvous with the Gate of Dawn, the only surviving piece of the city’s one defensive wall. Our accommodations, Hostel Gate, were right by here.

 

Christiania, Copenhagen

From Copenhagen to Oslo

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We’re catching a 4pm ferry to Oslo today. Until then, there are city views to be seen and cannabis-scented-communes to explore.

The Canals of Copenhagen

We spent a leisurely morning getting lost in Copenhagen and wandering around the canals.

The Church of Our Saviour

We spent a leisurely morning meandering around Copenhagen and a less-leisurely walking to the top of the Church of Our Saviour, aka Spiral Tower.

View of Copenhagen from the Church of Our Saviour

Ascending the tower takes a sweaty 300-step climb. As you reach the very top, the spiral narrows so much so, that only one person can go up at a time.

The Church of Our Saviour, aka Spiral Tower.

We were rewarded with eye candy at the top. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

Christiania, Copenhagen

We explored Christiania, the self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of Copenhagen. Since 1989, the commune of 850 people has been granted a unique status, allowing it to be partially self-regulated.

Christiania, Copenhagen

BBQ grills on top of rooftops, graffitied walls, communal joints and cannabis-smoking tables.

Christiania, Copenhagen

Residents were hostile to our cameras, but they welcomed our kroners when we wanted to buy their trinkets, hot dogs and other imported goods. The experience made me wary, but it was worth bearing their pushy attitudes to see this different side of Copenhagen.

At 4pm we boarded the ferry to Oslo.

At 4pm we boarded the ferry to Oslo. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

At 4pm, we boarded the overnight ferry to Oslo.

At 4pm, we boarded the overnight ferry to Oslo. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

Pulling away from the harbor in Copenhagen

Pulling away from the harbor in Copenhagen.

Leaving Copenhagen

Good-bye Denmark. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

 

To the Danish Coast and Beyond

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Today we ventured outside of Copenhagen to concoct the most perfect love child between art, nature and food.

Our first destination was the Louisiana Museum, a mecca of contemporary art that had been highly, highly recommended by a friend. From Copenhagen, we took a 40 minute metro ride from Central Station to the town of Humlebæk.Plopped in the middle of nature with a huge sculpture garden in the back, and the sea to our backs, Louisiana Museum is sensory explosion.

Our first destination was the Louisiana Museum, a mecca of contemporary art that had been highly, highly recommended by a friend. From Copenhagen, we took a 40 minute metro ride from Central Station to the town of Humlebæk.Plopped in the middle of nature with a huge sculpture garden in the back, and the sea to our backs, Louisiana Museum is sensory explosion.

Louisiana Musuem, Copenhagen

Sculptures are sprinkled throughout the garden and lawn.

Louisiana Musuem, Copenhagen

Squirtle from Pokémon?

Louisana Musuem, Copenhagen

On the edge of the lawn are steps leading to the sea. A museum can’t get better than this.

Louisiana Musuem, Copenhagen

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

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Inside the museum, I was hit with one of my favorite installations: Yayoi Kusama's Gleaming Lights Of The Souls. I'd seen this piece in New York, but walking into the darkened room of lights and infinity mirrors was just as mesmerizing the second time around.

Inside Louisiana, I was hit with one of my favorite installations: Yayoi Kusama’s Gleaming Lights Of The Souls. I’d seen this piece in New York, but walking into the darkened room of lights and infinity mirrors was just as mesmerizing the second time around. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

Yayoi Kusama's Gleaming Lights Of The Souls Installation

It’s like space, a disco and a funhouse combined into a single installation. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

Music at the Louisiana Museum

Outside again, we were greeted by possibly one of the coolest contemporary jazz concepts I’d ever seen. As music drifted in, out and eventually encased the entire lawn, we realized that the beats were coming from this 2-man band. They were essentially a living, moving surround sound system.

Getting to Den Røde Cottage

Next, we rushed off to Den Røde Cottage, a Michelin star eatery tucked away in a forest 20 minutes outside of Copenhagen.

Den Røde Cottage

The restaurant is housed in a 200-year-old cottage converted from a hotel for bougey tastemakers in the 1800’s.

Prosciutto and cheese served over a cracker at Den Røde Cottage.

Prosciutto and cheese served over a cracker

Den Rode Cottage

Cheese with salted cucumber, radish and rye bread

Oysters with sea salt

Oysters with sea salt

Den Røde Cottage

Dinner, good conversation, then back to Copenhagen for a night out at the bars. Couldn’t have asked for a better end to a great day. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.