Vilnius, Lithuania to Riga, Latvia

Today we took the bus north and a little bit west to Riga the Capital of Latvia.

Our bus was at noon so before we left Vilnius we went to the museum right next door to our hotel. It is the building where the document creating the independent Lithuanian state was signed on 16 February 1918. One of the interesting rooms in the museum had pictures from the Lithuanian Societies in the United States. There were Lithuanian societies in many states including three in Iowa. The Iowa societies were in Sioux City, Des Moines, and Mason City.

The bus ride took about five hours. Tomorrow we will explore Riga.

We had a great dinner at Svētku Mielasrs restorānā. We started with soup and potato pancakes with herring.

For our main course we had halibut and veal.

After dinner we went to a jazz club and listened to an excellent group.

Vilnius 30 March 2018

I really like our hotel here in Vilnius, the Narutis Hotel. It has a four story Central covered courtyard.

This morning we set out to explore Vilnius. We started at the Cathedral.

Then we climbed to the top of the Bell Tower. It’s history goes back to the thirteenth century. The stairs to the top were steep. We had an up close view of the bells and the old clock. We also had a great view of the town and surrounding countryside.

From the Bell Tower we walked to the Museum of Genocide Victims. The museum is in the building that was Gestapo headquarters and then KGB headquarters. I thought it was very well done. All the displays had captions in Lithuanian and English. The museum tells The story of the occupations first by the Germans and then by the Russians. The Lithuanians suffered oppression and horrendous numbers of deaths and deportations. Lithuanian has only been free of occupation since 1990.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped for coffee and strudel.

This evening we had dinner at a brewery. The wait staff all had “Support Your Local Brewery” in English on the back of their T-shirts. We finally had beer sausage and sauerkraut. One of the beers was a hemp beer made from cannabis seed. We would like to visit Vilnius again someday when it is not so wet and cold. Trakai Island Castle not far from here sounds like it would be beautiful and very interesting.

Suwalki, Poland, to Vilnius, Lithuania

Breakfast in Suwalki was the first breakfast in Europe that didn’t include croissants. It did include pickles and deviled eggs.

Our bus to Vilnius left Suwalki at 12:45 today. This morning we went to the local mall to spend the last of our Polish money. We bought snacks, Easter cards, stamps and a new wallet for Duke. We hung out until the last moment but still spent 45 minutes out in the snow, cold and wind waiting for our bus. It was invigorating.

What we have seen of Vilnius is beautiful. We had dinner at Lokys Restaurant. We ate in the basement of the fifteenth century restaurant. We started with herring and a lentils salad.

For the main course I had boar with pears and Duke had beef stew.

Our walk back to the hotel was cold and snowy but beautiful.

Warsaw to Suwalki

Tonight, our last night in Poland, we are in the extreme north east very near the Lithuania border. The scenery on the train ride today reminded me of northern Michigan and Wisconsin., lots of trees and frozen marshy land.

Suwalki is a town of 70,000 people. It seems like a prosperous town. We walked from the train station to our hotel and then went out exploring. We are at 54 degrees north. That’s well north of anything in the continental United States. The third picture below is our hotel.

For dinner we ate at Karczma Polska Restaurant. It was a warm and cozy setting.

We started with potato sausage.

Then Duke had pork tenderloin and I had chicken with an almond crust.

The apple cake we had for desert was wonderful.

Today was our last train ride of the trip. Tomorrow we take the bus to Vilnius, Lithuania.

Krakow to Warsaw

We returned from Krakow to Warsaw today by high speed train. We will have to come back to Poland again because there are many sights we would like to have visited and things we would like to have done that we didn’t have time for.

This afternoon we did go to the observation platform at the top of the Palace of Culture and Science. According to Rick Steves it is the tallest building between Frankfurt and Moscow.

We had dinner in our hotel. The Palonis Palace.

Krakow – 26 March 2018

Today we toured Auschwitz and Birkenau. It was difficult, and sad and powerful. To actually see what I have read about and to appreciate the size of the camps and the monstrous number of people who were murdered here…. I’m glad we visited even if just to bear witness.

We had another great dinner. We ate on the main square which had a lot fewer people than on Sunday when we were here.