28 Jan 2017

Hello, Kaunas!

I do believe that by now every Lithuanian have heard what kind of birthday present Vilnius got from Kaunas. If you hadn't, then let me summarize: Kaunas invited Vilnius' citizens to celebrate our capital's 694th birthday in the second largest city of Lithuania. And Vilnius gladly accepted this invitation! 


I can't remember when it was the last time when I visited Kaunas. Definitely some good 6 or maybe 7 years ago. So this invitation was a great excuse to let myself and my husband explore this city for half a day.


What's more, there were some free guided tours for Vilnius' citizens and we also managed to get into one (there were many people wanting to participate in those)! We chose to explore the Officers club Ramovė built in the first half of XXth century. Our tour guide was outstanding! You could ask him anything you wanted and he would have an answer!







Ramovė is a truly remarkable place! Funded by officers and built from all local materials (granite, stone, fake marble, wood) it is a place that spreads Lithuanian spirit in every direction. When we sat in the Great Hall and listened about the Mardi-Gras Carnivals that were celebrated here by the officers some good 80 years ago, I looked at the ceiling that displayed our national flag's colours and thought that Kaunas is called the most Lithuanian city for a reason.



We explored the main street - Laisvės alėja (Freedom Alley) that is packed with various shops and cafes. And  how can a bookworm not to take a peek at the new it place in Kaunas - bookstore Knygų ministerija (The Ministry of Books). 


It had opened just recently, but it's pretty obvious that it's going to attract all book lovers, coffee drinkers and hipsters from everywhere. You just have to look at the George R.R. Martin's quote above their door ("A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.") and you know that this bookstore is doomed to be successful. 






We decided to dine at Višta puode (Chicken in a Pot) not only because of it's funny name, but also because of good reviews. I can say only this: it's a must visit place when being in Kaunas!




Well-balanced menu, rich dishes and tasteful interior left us with the best impression. 


If you still have room for a dessert, try Spurginė. It's a place that I heard about a lot: they make this very specific type of doughnuts (called pączki in Poland) with various fillings. It's interior hasn't changed for many many years and even the waitresses look like from 1980, so it's got this retro thing going on. We also bought some doughnuts and they were good, but nothing very special (as I imagined it would be after all those good reviews). 


What I understood during today's short visit is that Kaunas is indeed a very Lithuanian city and is not afraid to show it! Living in Vilnius, city formed by all kinds of ethnic groups, I got accustomed to this whole "European" kind of sense looking at architecture, infrastructure, lifestyle. But Kaunas is something almost entirely different. Next to it's European identity is a very strong Lithuanian one. Just look at the old pavement tiles - it's all lilies (one of our favorite flowers) and  folk motives. Haven't seen anything similar in the capital! 



I do like how these two major cities are different and have their own characters. It means that there are many things to discover when visiting them! Today I understood that Kaunas is an extremely interesting place and I'll definitely come back!





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