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Europe: Eastern From Russia to Croatia, the Danube, Iron Curtain era vestiges, Pilzner beer, Czech it out!

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Old 06-13-2005, 01:24 PM   #1
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I'm going to tallinn, riga and vilinus this summer, has anyone got any tips?
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Old 06-14-2005, 03:58 AM   #2
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Hi Bassgirl, I've lived in Vilnius for the past two years, and love it. I can give you more information than you could ever want, so it's better if you ask any specific questions in an effort to keep me under control!

We've also visited Tallinn and Riga, so I can give some general tips about those, but it's best if you fire me some questions. The first thing you should definitely pick up in each of those cities is the "_______ In Your Pocket". These city guides are cheap (about $3 US) in each city, and have awesome information on all subjects - accommodations, food, things to do, everything. And good maps, too. And they're reasonably small, so easy to manage. Not as obvious as a Lonely Planet guide, either!

English will serve you fine in most of the capitals, if you speak Russian, I'd be very careful about broadcasting the fact. The majority of people will understand you, but the relationship is strained, so it's better to avoid it unless you have no other way of communicating. If you do, it seems the most tactful way to broach the subject is, "Is it possible that you speak Russian?" We had a friend who came and just started speaking Russian to everyone but didn't pick up on the offence taken at his presumption. We tried to explain it, but he didn't grasp the delicacy of the whole Baltic/Russian relationships. What can you do?

Anyway, western tourists are coming in droves these days, and many of the younger people speak fluent or at least decent English, so it's quite easy to manage without a lick of the local languages. But of course any effort to learn the local is appreciated. (And generally highly amusing.)

Summer is all about wandering around enjoying the late sun (gets dark around 11 in Vilnius these days, later farther north) and there are awesome music festivals all summer long.

See, I told you I can't keep it short, so you best ask direct questions! We're moving this summer, so I won't be able to help you out on the ground, but I'm happy to recommend our local favourites for whatever interests you...

Oh, one last thing, dress is a little more formal here than say, southern Europe, so shorts will point you out as a tourist instantly (girls only wear shorts if they're shorter than short and shocking pink or whatever. And with high high heels at a night club. Guys only wear shorts at the lake or the gym.) If you plan on clubbing, you'll need to have something a bit dressy, but during the day stylish casual is fine. Sweats, uh-uh.

Somebody pull the plug...
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Old 06-15-2005, 05:30 AM   #3
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hahah thanx i don't think ive really got the legs for wearing shorts
i don't speak any russian just english and a bit of german.
can u tell me some good bars/ pubs to go to in any of the cities , im into rock and indie kinda music
and some nice resturants? i don't wanna end up goin just to the touristy places

cheers
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Old 06-18-2005, 10:32 PM   #4
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Unfortunately, not everyone recognizes the link between shorts and the legs that are inside them...

We don't go to that many pubs/bars, so I'll just tell you the ones we like, and suggest that you look at the Vilnius In Your Pocket for more suggestions - they're pretty accurate judges! In Vilnius, we like Baras Prie Universiteto (Bar near the University) for lunch and they have music in the evenings, and Cozy (for brunch, meals and music at night) which are across the street from each other, on Dominikonu st. Also, Aukstaciai has great food and live music most nights. It's on a tiny little street, Zydu, next to Markus ir Ko, which has good steaks. They put tables in the street, and it's actually nice to sit outside and listen to the music while enjoying the gorgeous summer nights. Uzupio Kavine puts you in with the artistic crowd and is a funky place to hang out, right by the river. Sole Luna (also by the University) is listed as being a pretty hopping place, drawing an international crowd, but I've never been there myself.

Food is big here in Vilnius, and you can eat for cheap or $$$$$$$$$$$, but the quality's usually pretty high. The ubiquitous Cili chain (pizza, chinese, coffee and Lithuanian themed restaurants) are reliable - my kids and husband LOVE Cili Kaimas, which is the Lithuanian food version, and it's wildly popular with Lithuanians, as well. For me the food is a little heavy, but it's worth a try. And they have awesome breakfasts. My all time favourite is Mano Guru on Vilniaus g., which is smoke/alcohol/drug free (it's a project to help recovering addicts get off the streets and some good job experience), so it's only open til 9 at the latest, but they have great salads by day and night, and superb breakfasts. Another place I like is Prie Angelo in Uzupis (across the street from IKI mini-market). Sultan's serve great donar kebab sandwiches (in Stuokos Guceviciaus g.) and Sue's on Odminiu near the cathedral is awesome for Indian. We also like Kukubara on Gedimino (down in the basement - it's hard to find, because the sign outside is for Prospekto Pub'as) for australian (sort of) food and cheap pizzas. Also Zaza on Vilniaus/Jogailos (the latter entrance lets you in to the non-smoking section, the former is the smoking side) has good variety and cheap.

Gotta run, but that's a start!

Cheers!
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Old 06-19-2005, 09:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by tumblezweedz@Jun 19 2005, 05:31 AM
> The ubiquitous Cili chain (pizza, chinese, coffee and
> Lithuanian themed restaurants) are reliable - my kids > and husband LOVE Cili Kaimas, which is the
> Lithuanian food version, and it's wildly popular with
> Lithuanians, as well.*
I think I ate at a Cili restaurant, as well. That seems familiar...and if it's the one I remember, it was good.

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Old 06-19-2005, 10:21 PM   #6
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Charleston's in Riga is superb, though maybe a bit pricey.

I should also warn you that Chinese food here is not the greatest. I don't recommend Cili Kinija (that's the Chinese food version of the chain), there are better choices for chinese, though it's not like what I grew up with in Vancouver. I talked to a lady here who's Chinese, and she explained that the cuisine is all pretty much northern, and of course the selection of dishes is limited by what's available in the local markets. You can't get chow mein, which is the first thing I'm going to order when I go to Vancouver this summer! And then I'm going out for sushi. That you can get here, but it just ain't the same.

Avilys Beer Restaurant on Gedemino Pr. is a bit touristy in the summer, though it is popular with locals in the winter, so it's good food. The beer soup is amazing (heavy on potatoes and bacon) and they serve a beer ice cream, which I've never had. I would recommend NOT eating at Literatai, it's too expensive, though the food and location are super. Another good place to eat is a restaurant on the 5th floor of the ICUP (yes, that's really the name) department store, just across the white bridge from Old Town. Just head to the fifth floor, and when you get off the lift it's on the left, if you take the escalator, it's on the right. It is a "theme" restaurant, but good. Another that's harder work to get to, but fun with someone else is Marceliukas Kletas - just take a taxi, they'll know where it is. It should cost about 3 - 5 Lts to get there. Check out the ladies room on the second floor, it's very creative. (Girls only, please! )

Gotta go paint my flat.

Iki!
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Old 06-22-2005, 05:23 AM   #7
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thanx
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Old 06-25-2005, 04:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by bassgirl79@Jun 15 2005, 01:29 PM
i don't wanna end up goin just to the touristy places
...or macdonalds :P

loads of good info so far from tumblezweedz, ill have to think up some questions but am being roped into painting some doors....

Would anyone reconmend any decent hostels? Looking for places that are fairly lively with a good friendly atmosphere so its easy to meet other people in the evening or whatever.
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