THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Read below her story about Kaunas.
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Son of a Lithuanian coal miner from Pennsylvania
By: Carol A. Luschas, Kutztown, Pennsylvania
Lithuania is a remarkable country with a fascinating history! It is located in the geographical center of Europe. One can discover buildings from the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and Art Nouveau periods. There are unique museums, enchanting castles, specialty shops, quality restaurants, and affordable accommodations. The Lithuanian landscape is dotted with picturesque lakes, small rolling hills, and thick lush forests.
I decided to embark on a trip to Lithuania to visit my boyfriend, Mindaugas, and his mother, Irena. I spent the majority of my time in Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania. Senamiestas or the "Old Town" is small but cozy. Tourists can enjoy strolling clean, peaceful medieval cobblestone streets, while admiring beautiful buildings. Vilnius Street (Vilniaus Gatve) is the most popular street in the Old Town. It is filled with chic restaurants, cafes, art galleries and souvenir shops. I really enjoyed shopping and eating in the "Old Town!" The "Town Square" is the most picturesque area! During the spring and summer months wedding parties can be spotted outside the town hall. It is the BEST place in the "Old Town" for a Kodak moment!
The Kaunas Castle is the 13th century building, built by Kestutis to defend the road to Trakai. Today this small castle has been renovated and modernized. Inside the castle art exhibits can be seen. There is also a lovely bridge over the former moat. One will enjoy taking pictures of the beautiful and historic landmark. It is a very lovely spot
There are a countless number of stunning Churches in Kaunas. Christ's Resurrection Church is just one of them and is a breathtaking white beauty! The church was designed during Lithuania's independence when Kaunas was the capital. After the Soviets took control of the country the unfinished church was converted into a radio factory. It was later completed after independence. Great panoramic views of the city can be seen! Pazaislis Monastery Complex is the “Baroque Masterpiece of Kaunas.” It is a functioning monastery occupied by the Sisters of St. Casimir. It boarders the western tip of the Kaunas Sea or Kauno Marios. The interior of the church is jaw dropping, a true wonder of the world! There is a lovely new museum which traces the history of the church and the origin of the Sisters of St. Casimir and its founder, Mother Maria Kaupas.
Laisves Aleja is a lovely street in the “New Town” with cafes/restaurants and shops. I like the fact that is closed to traffic and can be enjoyed by foot. The street is lined with trees making it very green and beautiful during the spring and summer months. It needs some care and renovation, but it is still very nice!
You will never get hungry in Kaunas! Hundreds of cafes, restaurants and bars will be able to satisfy your hunger. Visitors can feast upon Lithuanian, Italian, French, German Chinese, and Japanese cuisine. The prices are pretty cheap compared to western and American cities. You will “eat like a king and pay like a pauper.” Berneliu Uzeiga is located in the cozy "Old Town" of Kaunas. Waiters and waitresses are dressed in beautiful traditional Lithuanian costumes. I had a mouthwatering chicken with cream sauce and apple pie with vanilla ice cream. I highly recommended this restaurant for a true taste of Lithuanian cuisine.
Shopping is simply a JOY in this city! The OLD TOWN is bursting with art galleries and unique specialty shops with souvenirs HANDMADE in Lithuanian, NOT China. The Kaunas Akropolis Shopping Centre is truly a shopping paradise and the nicest mall I have ever seen! This high-class multiplex has EVERYTHING your heart desires! Clothing, shoes, books, electronics, jewelry, perfume, restaurants, cafes, cinema and even an ice rink! The clothes are extremely fashionable and well designed.
Mega is another topnotch shopping center! It is not as large as the infamous "Akropolis" but it has a lovely array of shops and restaurants to choose from. Bajoru Kiemas and Charlie Pizza are my favorite restaurants in MEGA.
There is also a lovely cinema with comfortable stadium seating. Guests can
purchase sweet or buttered popcorn, beverages, and beer before they enter the
theater. I was surprised because alcoholic beverages are usually NOT allowed in
the US depending on the state you live in. What a pleasant difference!
A gorgeous RIMI supermarket is also housed in the complex. It happened to be one of the nicest food markets I have seen! It would be hard to find anything comparable in the US. The market is clean and well-kept with an abundance of products that are displayed beautifully!
Rumsiskes Open-air museum outside of Kaunas is worth a visit. I was transported back in time and learned how Lithuanians lived in the 19th and 20th century. The museum is divided by the four major ethnic regions in Lithuania: Aukstaitija, Zemaitija. Dzukija, and Suvalkija. It is best to visit in midsummer when the flower gardens are in bloom. During my visit I was able to stop in a shop that sold hand-made pottery. There is also an interesting amber shop as well. I highly suggest a guided tour.
I had an exhilarating time in Lithuania and was pleasantly surprised with Kaunas. It is definitely a city worth seeing! There are plenty, museums, restaurants and cafes to keep everyone on your list happy. Plus the prices are extremely reasonable and less expensive than the capital, Vilnius. The Old Town is cozier and walkable making it easy to explore. I loved strolling from the Old Town to Laisves Alelija. Kaunas is slowly being renovated and is blossoming into a stunning city that is just waiting to be discovered!
ABOVE AND BELOW: Pazaislis Monastery Complex is the “Baroque Masterpiece of Kaunas
Vilnius Street (Vilniaus Gatve) is the most popular street in the Old Town
Berneliu Uzeiga is located in the cozy "Old Town" of Kaunas
Mega is another topnotch shopping center!
The Kaunas Castle is the 13th century building, built by Kestutis to defend the road to Trakai
Rumsiskes Open-air museum outside of Kaunas is worth a visit!
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