Monday, June 27, 2011

Vilnius, Lithuania

Got to Vilnius (Lithuania) the other day and I am enjoying it a lot. For one thing, aside from a few showers the first day, the rains seem to have stopped, even though it threatened to storm yesterday (gray clouds are so dramatic!)...

Vilnius skies

It is very easy to get around here. I think Vilnius is much more geared for the foreign visitor than Riga was. Informational plaques and signs abound and Lithuanians seem to take more pride in their creative past and let you know who lived/died where...

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artist

They are fond of letting you know that "the Pope was here"...

pope

And even though there is graffiti everywhere just like Riga...

graffiti

these signs show that they are at least thinking about cleaning the place up a little...

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People here have fond ways of putting art elements in odd places...

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Yes it is an Easter egg on a pillar. It actually used to be in the "art area" of U┼żupis, which is an interesting story in itself. More on it later.

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Vilnius is filled with churches, Lutheran, Catholic and Russian Orthodox...

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But only has one synagogue left after hundreds were destroyed by both the Russians then the Germans...

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One of these days I need to sit down and write more (for myself) on the emotional side of being a relatively lapsed Jew from America and seeing the struggles of what Jews here have gone through for the last 50-100 years. Vilnius is maybe at best 200 or so miles from the area that my family came from (the borders of then Prussia now Poland/Belarus/Lithuania changed often and there is still a large Polish connection in Vilnius). Several times in my travels in Eastern Europe I have been brought to tears and it has confused me a little because my family has been "American" since the mid 1800s and even though of course I learned about the Holocaust in school it never really affected me (more than horrors like that would affect me from anything) until now being here.

If nothing else, it really makes me wonder why people kill each other for their beliefs.

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