Around 25 km to the south west of Vilnius, there’s a town called Trakai which is surrounded by lakes. We’d seen some photos of a medieval castle on an island in one of the lakes, so we stopped by to check it out.
The castle is built of red bricks, rather like the one at Malbork, though its much smaller than that. We walked across two bridges to reach the castle and peeked inside the courtyard. Whilst it was all very pretty, neither of us really fancied touring the castle interior, so we wandered around the outside wall instead and admired the views across the lakes.
Back in the van we continued on our way to Kaunas, now Lithuania’s second city, though it was once the capital when Vilnius was under Russian occupation (Lithuania has a complicated history!). The campsite has just opened for the season, and overlooks a beach on the huge Lake Lampedis. It’s located about 5 km from the old town, a 10 minute journey on the trolleybus.
We spent a couple of days exploring the old town, with its pedestrianised cobbled streets. The main avenue in town, Laisvés Avenue, is being resurfaced and so there was lots of work going on, but I’m sure it will look great when it’s finished, and it’s good to see some investment going into the place.
Like Vilnius there’s a definite café culture here as well, with cafés everywhere. There are also quite a few art-deco buildings dotted around the place, built during the 1920’s and 1930’s, which have miraculously survived both WWII and the subsequent Soviet occupation. Some of them look a little worse for wear, but they’ll hopefully be refurbished at some point.
There was some good street art here too:
I’ve learnt a handful of Lithuanian words whilst we’ve been here. Thank you is ačiū, pronounced A-choo, and I keep wanting to say ‘bless you’ when I hear it!
We now only have three days left in Lithuania, so tomorrow we will be heading north towards Latvia.