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Brave New World - Lithuania

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We all have stereotypes about peoples and places that are often extremely difficult to dispel. For instance: Russians are rude; Japan is expensive; English food is terrible and it is always sunny in Paris. None of these statements are true today, in fact the opposites are nearer the mark. But, unless you travel to these places and meet the people it is unlikely that you will be convinced. So – for many people the ex-Eastern Bloc countries are probably still grey, dour and controlled by dangerous men. This is the Lithuanian Presidential Palace in Vilnius – not a jack-booted guard in sight and the twice-elected President is a woman, Dalia Grybauskaitė
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The Baltic countries that emerged from behind the Iron Curtain a quarter of a century ago are now thoroughly modern Western democracies with first world infrastructure.
However, with few exceptions, our sightseeing is dictated by online travel guides who steer us to the historic hotspots and we rarely visit the places where ordinary folk live, work and play. Would we visit Rome if it weren't for the Colosseum and St. Peter's? Would Paris be a draw without the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame? But in a few centuries time will future generations stare in awe at today's modern apartment blocks in Vilnius?...
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Maybe they will take guided tours of this giant shopping mall...
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and wonder what madness led us to believe that we needed 15 different shoe shops?...
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Or will they question our need to have 40 different coffee makers and more than 60 different electric kettles on offer in a single store...
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Beyond the old city centres of Tallin, Riga and Vilnius there is a new world that is, if anything, more advanced than our own. All three Baltic countries have world-class internet, a well maintained network of roads and excellent public transit. There are giant new factories, big box stores, dealerships of Audis, BMWs and every other car maker and the farmland seems well utilised. There are still vestiges of the recent past. Not all the old buildings have been renovated or demolished but, unlike in our own cities, we have not witnessed beggars on the streets or the homeless sleeping in shop doorways. We have been impressed by the cleanliness of the streets and the neatness of the parks and people's gardens. We have certainly been impressed with the food and our Thanksgiving Dinner in Vilnius started with stuffed Lithuanian potato dumplings, followed by Pork loin in mushroom sauce...
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For desert we had fruity black bread pudding – delicious.
Tomorrow we tour old Vilnius.
Happy Thanksgiving to all our Canadian friends and family.

Posted by Hawkson 11:02 Archived in Lithuania

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Comments

This is why I love your journeys. You bring us up to date and dispel the myths. So curious to age and to see forever how things change. I love it. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

by Susan Fitzwilson

Very interesting to see your view of these old Baltic States.

by Keith and Helen

I wonder if we travelled together - would I be off meeting the people, where they work, how they cook and you two doing the famous sites....or we'd combine them both? Your Thanksgiving dinner looks lovely - potatoes and pork - how can you beat it! I look forward to your next adventure, my friends.

by joyce

thank you for taking me on these wonderful tours. and thank you for Your friendship. Happy thanksgiving love...

by Jean McLaren

I think it's the crime novelists that continue our distorted image of the Baltic countries--dark, dour and filled with dangerous people. Do they have any cheerful writers we might read (aside from you)?

by R and B

Thank you for visiting the Baltic countries and reporting back to us. And Happy Thanksgiving to you both.

by Janet

Your journies are always so interesting and informing, this one a little different and in fact surprising, but again with your special insights helps one understand our evolving world better. Thanks again.

by Bob D

Very useful adjustment to the usual narrative. Beautifully plated Thanksgiving dinner. Dessert sounds wonderful. Cousins with English bread puddings? Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

by Tom Whalley

Happy Thanksgiving to you both.

by Amanda

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