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Day 2: Kaunas to Vilnius

It was another beautiful sunny day when we woke up on Kaunas this morning. After a bit of a lie in, we went out into the town to get breakfast and then set off for another stroll around the city. 

We retraced our steps from yesterday initially, walking through the park with the view of the confluence...


,,,round to Kaunas castle...


...and then into the main square.


We had thought Kaunas was pretty quiet yesterday, but it seemed even quieter on a Sunday morning; there was hardly anyone else about :)


We decided we wanted to visit the church of Christ's Resurrection, which we knew from our previous trip to Kaunas is an enormous structure, on top of a hill above the city. Last time we had climbed up there, but this time we decided we'd rather be lazy and went in search of the funicular.

On the way we passed a patch of grass with some rather strange examples of Lithuanian art!



We eventually found the funicular and paid an entire €0.70 each for the ride to the top :) 

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As soon as you walk out of the station, you get a view of the huge church.


The decision to build the church was made in 1918, to celebrate Lithuanian independence. Kaunas was eventually chosen as the location, due to it temporarily becoming the capital of Lithuania when Vilnius was annexed by Poland in the 1920s.  The construction of the church was finished in 1940.


Unfortunately, 1940 wasn't a great year to finish the construction of a church. First of all the Nazis used it as a storeroom, then later the Soviets used it as a factory. It wasn't until Lithuanian independence that it was able to function as a church, finally being consecrated in 2004.


We saw on a map that the church wasn't far away from one of Kaunas' parks, so we decided to walk towards that.


At the entrance to the park we found this (rather concrete) monument to the Lithuanian aviators who flew across the Atlantic ocean in 1933. They were supposed to land in Kaunas, but for unknown reasons they crashed over Poland, a few hundred miles short of their ultimate destination.


The park had looked large on the map, and sure enough we soon found ourselves walking through what felt like a forest :)


It was a nice and shady place to stroll, and when we eventually exited the park to head down towards the train station, we found ourselves emerging into the town with a view towards this beautiful church.


This is the church of St Michael the Archangel, which was built in 1891 as a Russian Orthodox church. Kaunas was part of the Russian empire at that point, and the church was needed for the garrison of Russian soldiers stationed nearby. Today, having spent some time as an art gallery under the Soviets, it is now a Catholic church.


It took us about 20 minutes to walk from here to the main train station, where we knew a train to Vilnius was departing at 13.46.  The tickets cost a mere €4.80 each, which seemed like good value for a journey of 104km.


The train was very modern and we had a nice comfortable journey to Vilnius, arriving just after 15.20.  We set off to find our apartment, which is located partway between the train station and the old town.


It's nice and spacious and again seems great value for €35! We also have a Russian washing machine.

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After a bit of a rest, we set out to explore Vilnius.


This is our third visit here, so things soon began to look familiar :)


In fact, we even managed to find a restaurant which we had eaten in last time we were in Lithuania. This was a branch of the Lithuanian chain Čili pica, which we knew from experience has an extensive menu with pictures :)  I ended up ordering the same meal I'd had last time; a dish of Lithuanian pancakes, stuffed with minced beef and ham, covered in a cheesy white sauce. It was delicious.


Amazingly, my meal cost €3.99 :o The entire meal, including a pizza for Tim, a side order of fries, a glass of wine and a Lithuanian beer came to €17.  You definitely can't beat Lithuania for value!

We walked down some of the pretty streets in the old town...


..passing various churches on the way...


...until eventually we caught a glimpse of Gediminas Tower in the background.


That meant we weren't far away from the cathedral square.


This is one of the most beautiful bits of Vilnius. In one direction there is the tower and the statue of Gediminas with his horse. Gediminas was the Grand Duke of Lithuania for 25 years until 1341, and is credited with founding Vilnius.


In the other direction you can see the enormous cathedral of St Stanislaus and St Ladislaus of Vilnius.


The cathedral also has a large bell tower.


If you stand far enough back and look carefully, you can just make out the monument of the three white crosses on the hill behind Vilnius.


We were fairly tired by this point, so decided to start walking back towards our apartment.


We're flying home tomorrow evening, but before that we hope to spend the day visiting the nearby town of Trakai :) 

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