Vilnius was like a second home to me for a few years during the 1990s, to the point where I had an apartment to stay in when I was here rather than using hotels. How much of the expat lifestyle people eschew in favour of living as a local is always a personal choice, and depends on circumstances as well.
In my case the choice was limited, as I would be working all week and then heading off back to the family in Scotland on Friday or Saturday. Only very rarely could I participate in Lithuanian weekends.
Partly for this reason the past weekend has had extra interest for me, and Sunday in particular. I spent most of it with Ramunė who was a work colleague in the 90s and became a friend as well.
Her plan for the day was to go to visit Rūta who is the mother of one of her friends. Rūta lost her husband recently, and the friend lives in Munich so she can’t visit as often as she’d like.
Rūta lives near Molėtai, 60km north of the city, and has a holiday home business on Lake Bebrusai.
We spent the afternoon sitting admiring the lake, swimming in it, and eating. Well, I did the eating and they talked. Lithuania is a country of lakes and forests, and we were in one of the most beautiful parts.
Vilnius almost emptied over the weekend as the locals disappeared into the countryside to enjoy nature and the good weather – to their summer cottages, to visit friends or family at their summer cottages, to go camping or just for a day trip.
Fortunately the population is small relative to the size of the country, so apart from a few hotspots (Trakai, for example) it is easy to find quiet places.
I was impressed with Rūta’s holidays homes – we got to use an empty one to change for swimming – although I have not yet investigated prices. I would certainly think about a week there for next year’s summer holiday.
My day out had lots of highlights. The swims. The scenery. An insight into a Lithuanian summer Sunday afternoon. The smoked ham. The home made bread. The weather. The special calm you only get when you’re in the middle of a forest.
Another was the look of delight on Rūta’s face when I thanked her for her hospitality in Lithuanian. Two of my 10 words…
ⓒ iain taylor, 2018