We had a pig’s ear in Lithuania and it was chewy!

A squishy pigs ear in Vilnius, Lithuania.

A squishy pigs ear in Vilnius, Lithuania.

So last week, I started writing about our adventures in Lithuania and what an excellent beginning we had.

As much as I love the “other” Eastern Europe, I had never been to that part of the region before.

Oops! Did I say Eastern Europe.

Oh dear!

Friends tell me that saying the forbidden word “East” is likened to putting a noose around your own neck and pulling it.

Tightly.

Ah well!

Home-made blueberry jam and cream.

Home-made blueberry jam and cream.

Being that Vilnius, and therefore, Lithuania is in an unknown part of the world, it stands to reason that it’s food and drink culture would be similar so.

I love writing about food although I’m not that much of an eater, I talk far too much to actually eat anything and as for drinking, I’m such a light-weight, it’s a British disgrace!

However.

I do like to try things out and taste things for myself.

Here’s some food posts of the past.

GERMANY:

Christmas food in Germany comprising of home-made potato dumplings, red cabbage, succulent roast goose, and gravy made from goose dripping!

  • As you recall, I’ve written about German food in-depth and the results were pretty surprising.
  •  I have also been on a food walking tour in Berlin. The first time I’ve ever done so and again what a day of delicious moreness!

THE CZECH REPUBLIC:

HOLLAND:

Dutch chips and Mayo. Umm. They're alright. I coped!

Dutch chips and Mayo. Umm. They’re alright. I coped!

FRANCE:

THAILAND:

Delicious, yummy, spicy Tom Yum Goong soup in Bangkok, Thailand.

Delicious, yummy, spicy Tom Yum Goong soup in Bangkok, Thailand.

POLAND:

BRITAIN:

Afternoon Tea at Llangoed Hall.

Afternoon Tea at Llangoed Hall.

So now that you know how exciting I find food posts, here comes the food table of Lithuania!

A LITHUANIAN BREAKFAST:

Fresh oranges and kiwi slices.

Fresh oranges and kiwi slices.

As you know, we were in a B&B so we had a home-made breakfast on a daily basis of pancakes with home-made blueberry, strawberry, and apple jam with cream, yogurt and slices of fruit, And you could have as much as tea and coffee as you wanted.

Cost – Nothing at all. It came with the bed!

A LITHUANIAN STARTER:

Beer "food" in Lithuania.

Beer “food” in Lithuania.

We were told that in Lithuania, and in pretty much all the Baltic States, a plate of “beer food” is pretty standard when ordering or waiting for your meal to arrive. In Europe, not ordering an alcoholic drink is considered quite weird and let me tell you, when I lived in Prague in the 90’s, beer was cheaper than water!

You heard me.

Beer was cheaper than water!

They’ve changed that now and made it.

Drum roll please……..

The same price!!!

Remember how I told you that we had lunch at the Independent Republic of Užupis – a bohemian community of artists – located on “the other side of the river.” Well, they have a really nice and enormously cheap restaurant called Užupio kavinė.

Yes please!

So the beer food above was a plate of fried bread with cheese and mayonnaise sauce.

The bread was pretty oily but honestly, it really did the job of wetting one’s appetite as it was quite crunchy too, and the mayo was kind of sweet! I think we even ordered a second plate!

Cost – €2.00.

Lithuanian soup.

Lithuanian soup.

We also had soup.

Oooooh! You know how much I like soup. This was home-made garlic soup with a dollop of cream in the middle of it, and sprinkled with dill!

Cost – €1.30

Lithuanian dumplings.

Lithuanian dumplings.

Just look at those traditional zeppelini’s with a meat filling.

A zeppelini is a type of dumpling and a traditional Lithuanian dish. This particular zeppelini came with a small bowl of bacon pieces and sour cream. How juicy and succulent they must be!

I’m not a fan of dumplings as they tend to be made out of potato…! Anyway, we found this dish in a really nice place that quite a lot of people had said not to go to because, and I quote, “It’s full of tourists!” I’m afraid that these dishes were so attractive that I quite forgot the restaurant name, but if I find it, I’ll let you know!

Hardly anybody tends to see the irony of places “full” of tourists and the fact that we tend to add to that number. Even worse, when visitors are lucky enough to find the more “authentic” places, they’re upset when the service staff either cannot, or refuse to speak English.

I mean, why should they?

More zeppelini dumplings!

More zeppelini dumplings!

Do you really expect a plastic table, plastic chair, food place in the middle of say, China, that is “authentic” to speak English, German or Russian?

Let’s be honest. Do you?

Back to the food.

Those dumplings according to “The Tall Young Gentleman” were divine.

And the cost at such a “tourist” place – €3.95!

I’m so sorry about the lighting but I just had to show you this platter of traditional assorted Lithuanian snacks served with home-made Lithuanian bread. It was a huge platter of Lithuanian aromatic cheeses surrounding a pot of strong local honey, slices of cured meats, slices of pear, oranges, and lemons, bite-sized vegetables, pickled onions, Feltsalad, and chives, scattered over with local cranberry seeds. It was really delicious and made for two people. I would have loved to link the restaurant but somehow, the food was so alluring that I can’t find the buisness card of the restaurant. If I do, I’ll let you know later!

Cost – €11.00.

LITHUANIAN MAIN DISHES:

The Lithuanian speciality of a pig's ear!

The Lithuanian speciality of a pig’s ear!

We went on a free walking tour organised by Vilnius With Locals, and even though It was snowing and freezing cold, we stayed on right until the end! We were very much rewarded as our tour guide introduced us to a local place for lunch, where we had our very first original, authentic Lithuanian food. The place was called Būsi trečias and what a place it was.

We were all so excited to try out food from the region and so “The Tall Young Gentleman” ordered pigs ear.

And he so wished he hadn’t!

It came in a frying pan and was served with potato pancake and a sort of bacon and spring onion white sauce.

I don’t need to tell you much as you can already see how chewy it looks. It tasted chewy too but “The Tall Young Gentleman” was a true gentleman and tried his best to man up and eat it!

Cost – €5.50.

Lithuanian pancakes!

Lithuanian pancakes!

The Music Producer being German decided to go for a dish called “The Bremen Town Musicians.” It was a pile of pork, beef and chicken, layered by potato pancakes, some white sauce, and a side salad accompanied by a tomato and an olive!

Cost – €7.50.

Stuffed potatoes in Lithuania.

Stuffed potatoes in Lithuania.

I admit that my meal does look yucky but it tasted delicious! It was a serving of baked potatoes stuffed with herring, mushrooms, onions, mayonnaise and sour cream, sprinkled with dill.

Cost – €1.74. Yep! you heard me.

€1.74!

Lithuanian pork steak.

Lithuanian pork steak.

In the previous wonderful “tourist” place I mentioned to you earlier, I had a plate of Lithuanian crispy pork steak that was served with a curly swirl of yummy mashed potatoes, red cabbage, coleslaw, cucumber, and covered with mushroom sauce. It was delicious and so utterly filling I was only able to “manage” a cocktail or two in the evening LOL!

Cost – €5.35.

LITHUANIAN AFTERS:

a-glass-of-kvass

We weren’t able to manage having dessert but the local drinks more than made up for our “third” course!

For those of you who prefer not to drink the usual and quite boring “soft” drink, you could go for a local drink filled with honey or kvass which is a fermented beverage usually made out of black or rye bread!

Be careful though as I constantly had to check that “non-alcoholic” drinks actually contained no alcohol.

Europe is quite liberal over that type of thing as beer is not considered alcohol in the real sense of things and moreover, our son looks much older than he actually is. I mean, the last time we went to Italy, we went to a fancy pâtisserie and he was served a slice of lemon cake. Filled with rum!

I was so angry, and they really couldn’t see why.

Our son was 10 years old at the time!

Don’t say that I didn’t warn you!

Cost – €1.75.

Dark Lithuanian beer.

I don’t drink dark beers but my husband does and the dark god is pretty awesome in this part of the world. He said!

There was always a large variety of different Lithuanian beer.

Cost – €2.00.

Lithuanian liquor shots!

Lithuanian liquor shots!

I do of course drink lagers, champagne and very good vodka. I’m so sorry about the quality of the picture. Again, I have put it in because the way it was served was really interesting.

We were fairly stuffed after champagne and wine and to round the evening up, the waiter suggested a shot of Lithuanian liquor served in blocks of ice!

That’s right. Ice.

And you had to be quick about it too as the ice tended to melt as soon as it had some contact with warmth.

It wasn’t a problem LOL!

Cost – €3.50.

Well, that’s it. I told you Vilnius in Lithuania was cheap. So what are you waiting for?

Lithuanian vodka!

Lithuanian vodka!

This article is part-sponsored by Lux Express and Vilnius Home Bed and Breakfast.

We received a part-complimentary-part-discounted stay on our B&B but all opinions and the lovely Lithuanian vodka and shots that I totally consumed, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Stay tuned!

Next week, I’ll be writing about the old town of Riga in Latvia. Get reeeeeeeeady!

After that, there will be a food post about Latvia too and our experience in Tallinn in Estonia with the help of the Tallinn Card, what the view was like on the ferry crossing from Estonia to Finland with TALLINK SLJA LINE and what we thought about Helsinki in Finland!

International Games Week Berlin 2015 is a leading cross-industry communication and networking platform for games businesss, development and culture, and will be taking place between April 21-26, 2015.

I’ll be going to TBEX Europe (Travel Bloggers Exchange) an International Networking Conference, for the first time! It’ll be taking place in Costa Brava, Catalunya, Spain from 30.04.15 – 02.05.15.

Strictly Stand Up English Comedy Night will be taking place at the Quatsch Comedy Club on 29.04.15.

Eddie Izzard will be back in Germany and will be front-lining a killer international night of comedy at the Admirals Palast on 08.05.15.

The Berlin Music Video Awards will be taking place from May 27.05.15 – 30.05.15. Anybody can apply!

The Berlin Fashion Film Festival will be taking place on 05.06.15.

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re going to miss the delight of Spring!

April is going to be bright and warm.

Watch this space!

What came first - The chicken or the egg?

What came first – The chicken or the egg?

Have you ever had a potato pancake? Would you eat a pig’s ear?

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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I survived a 26 hour coach-bus adventure and I didn’t die!

©2012-2015 onelung

©2012-2015 onelung

So I’m back from the Baltic Region and I’m totally and utterly knackered because I arrived back in Berlin just today!

It was a 26 hour coach-bus adventure journey.

We didn’t die!

Craaaazy!

This independent trip was fifteen (15) days in total: Three (3) days in Vilnius (Lithuania), three (3) days in Riga (Latvia), three (3) days in Tallinn (Estonia), two (2) days in (Helsinki) Finland, and one (1) more day in Tallinn (Estonia) again. That makes 12 days for the holiday itself and 3 days for travelling!

I had lots of fun but I’m exhausted.

I’m also very pleased that I’ve just been to a completely new region of the world, and I’ve knocked four (4) new countries in one (1) go!

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve just returned from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland.

So why the hell did I do this?

God Save the Queen in Cool Britannia!

God Save the Queen in Cool Britannia!

Well first of all, I’m a little eccentric. I mean, remember that time when I climbed up a live volcano in Bali or when I fell off a ski lift in the Czech Republic? And what about the sex show that I went to in Amsterdam?

Exactly!

I like pushing buttons.

But why go to the Baltics?

As of now, the region above has not really been discovered by tourists and travellers. To be candid but have you ever heard of Latvia? What about Lithuania? And to be honest, we all know of Finland, but how many of us have actually been there?

‘Told you so!

A map of the Baltic Sea.

A map of the Baltic Sea.

These countries are based in Europe and their capital cities have stories of richness, history and grandeur, unspoilt by the full-board package set and the larger louts of stag and hen nights. They are sparsely populated, and not your typical cheap and friendly destination. As a matter of fact, prices in Finland border on the insane and Estonia has prices that would make your hair stand up, although still considered to be a “budget” destination.

I want to experience these countries for myself.

That’s why!

LITHUANIA

Vilnius.

I went to the capital city of Vilnius.

I’ve already discussed basic background, and although I know that the “other Eastern Europe” ought to be cheaper than Western Europe, it isn’t always the case. In fact, I would consider Prague more expensive than Berlin!

I love Prague.

I even used to live there and back in the day, everything cost hardly anything at all.

Prague is still a very wonderfully budget place to go to but it’s got competition.

In Lithuania.

I really couldn’t believe how wonderfully low the prices actually were.

Amazing!l

So now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty:

WHY GO TO LITHUANIA?

The European Flag.

The European Flag.

Living in Berlin means that Continental Europe is right on your doorstep. Basically, if you’re an expat living in Europe and you don’t use the opportunities to check out the neighbouring countries, then you’re a fool!

There. I said it.

A fool!

Bread & Butter - Berlin Fashion Week.We are lucky that our continent is a wonder of different countries, cultures, languages and customs. Merely an hour away from Berlin is the border of Poland. A completely different country in every way. Surrounding Germany is also France, Holland, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Denmark. Every one of them beautiful, interesting countries.

And I have been to them all.

Many times.

Lithuania of course, is a different kettle of fish having recently established re-independence  from the ex-USSR in 1991 – a mere 24 years ago. As a result, Lithuania is still fairly “new, ” unspoilt, uncrowded, welcoming to visitors and desperate to stand out from its Baltic brothers.

And if you’re that way inclined, you can be sure nobody knows where it is. A true adventure!

VILNIUS

VilniusHome18

HOW DO I GET THERE?

You can of course fly.  There is an international airport in Vilnius with major Eastern airlines being the main market but for most of you reading this blog, the following airlines might apply: Aeroflot, airBaltic, Finnair, Estonian Air, LOT (Polish Airlines), and Ryanair.

You generally can’t take the train if you’re coming from Western Europe as Western train companies don’t come this far “North”. They go up to Poland, Slovakia & Slovenia yes, and then East to Hungary and Romania! Trains in the Baltics tend to come from Russia or ex-USSR States and no-one really recommends them as they’re far too old, far too slow and far too unreliable.

Pretty much everyone we met was travelling either by car or by bus, and so were we!

The Lux Express Bus.

We were on a part-sponsorship with – Lux Express, and it really wasn’t that bad at all.

From Berlin to Vilnius in Lithuania, we travelled with the Simple Express part of the company. My husband – The Music Producer – was sceptical, but trusted my judgement.

Thankfully, everything went smoothly.

I had communicated with the company on-line as per details and requirements, and they were wonderfully professional and timely, with information and tickets.

The coach-bus was clean and all the luggage was individually checked and handled by one of the drivers. Passports and I.D. cards were also individually processed and tickets double-checked. Seating was allocated and unlike typical coach-bus journeys, was outfitted with individual flat screens and WiFi, albeit not always working, but you can’t have everything LOL!

Bring your own blanket!

Bring your own blanket!

I tend not to sleep on coach-buses, trains or planes, and this trip was no exception. Happily, the individual lights were all working.

We had brought along our own blankets and cushions (although you can also buy them on board for €4.00 and €3.00 respectively), and I read my kindle and even watched a couple of films such as the “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Bad Neighbours.”

I started to watch “Foot Loose”, but I lost interest!

Pick your poison on the Lux Express!

Pick your poison on the Lux Express!

The coach-bus was fully booked from Berlin but once we got to Warsaw, there was a huge shift in seating after midnight, and then free seats were available. So we were able to take double seats and stretch out. They even had seatbelts, floor lights, power supply outlets per double seats, headphone slots (which you can also buy for €1.50) and a toilet that was somewhat clean.

Until the end of the journey.

Phew!

We were on a part-sponsorship, but Lux Express has discount prices if you book early.

You can usually get a one-way single ticket from Berlin to Vilnius with the Simple Express from €36.00 – a journey of 7.15 hours and through 3 countries! From Vilnius to Riga with Lux Express from €15.00, and from Riga to Tallinn from €16.00. You can also go to Russia with the company if you so wish. From Tallinn to St. Petersburg from €25.00!

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

Skipping in the rain!

Skipping in the rain!

OMG. You have got to be joking. Perhaps because it was at the end of March but there was hardly anyone there! You could literally count all the tourists and many were quite young. Lots of tourists from Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany, America, Canada, Australia, and the UK. In fact, we bumped into the same French man that we met in Lithuania, in Latvia!

They say that in the summer Vilnius gets crowded, but I hardly doubt it, as there are only 3 million people in the whole country!

WHAT IS VILNIUS LIKE?

Pre-Communist Lithuania.

Pre-Communist Lithuania.

At first glance coming into Lithuania, I found the country to be very Eastern-European-like with lots of abandoned buildings with busted out glass windows, clapped out blocks of flats, commmunist-sized boxes, abandoned industrial chimney factories and looking awfully grey.

OMG!

Once we checked-in, looked around, and fairly soon after went on our free walking tour organised by Vilnius With Locals, we pretty much knew were everything was.

Our Vilnius tour guide.

Our Vilnius tour guide.

Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, one of the largest old cities in Europe, and is covered by countless churches. In fact, 65! It might have a population of only just half a million people, but all that history makes up for it!

Although our young guide didn’t talk too much about the Jewish history of Vilnius, it is also known as “the Jerusalem of Lithuania” because of its strong Jewish past, “Little Rome” and “North Athens.” Vilnius is a treasure-trove of Baroque craftsmanship and a valuable and historical site of not only Baroque, but also Gothic, Renaissance, and other architectural styles.

The Independent Republic of Užupis in Vilnius.

The Independent Republic of Užupis in Vilnius.

We experienced panoramic views, we walked around the town, we had lunch at the Independent Republic of Užupis – a bohemian community of artists – and located on “the other side of the river” separated by a bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage site in itself, and similar to the Freetown Christiania community in Copenhagen!

I’ve been to the independent community in Denmark. It’s very laissez-faire, but pretty cool.

We went to many cultural sites of interest in Vilnius and although it was freezing and wet, we had a fairly good time.

My group looking sorry for themselves!

My group looking sorry for themselves!

I really like walking tours and this tour really gave us an insight into the capital city. It was snowing and freezing cold and it dampened many an enthusiasm as half the group abandoned ship and took off! I was stupidly determined to hang on until the end, when in reality, all I really wanted was a hot toddy!

It paid off though as our tour guide introduced us to a local place for lunch, where we had our very first original, authentic Lithuanian food.

We clapped our hands and tucked in!

I DONT SPEAK LITHUANIAN.

Lithuanian children are the future!

Lithuanian children are the future!

Not a problem.

I was surprised to discover that English is widely spoken.

Everywhere!

A good tester of this were the children. I approached two young boys and they spoke beautifully. I also met a small group of children in the National Art Gallery who stared a little at my fabulousness but again, they spoke fantastic English and allowed me to take a few photos of them dressed up in historical costume!

If you can speak English, German or Russian. You’re in!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

VilniusHome16

Whenever we go on a family holiday, I like to mix things up a little in order to experience a wide variety of accommodation possibilities, to meet the locals, and to stretch our budget in a more comfortable way.

In that wise, I decided to book a small family Bed & Breakfast consisting of just seven (7) rooms, and located between the Old Town and a park. This B&B was called Vilnius Home Bed and Breakfast and we were in the Family Room.

The owner – Aleksandra Kiseliovienė – was lovely. She’s a smiley, fun, jolly woman who looked 26 but wasn’t! She also appreciated and understood the importance of social media and had a really easy-to-use website, and is all over Facebook! As we chatted about the Fall of the Berlin Wall and international travel, she told me that she had recently taken a similar bus trip herself in travelling from Vilnius to Prague.

Aleksandra very kindly invited us to join them for breakfast even though breakfast for us, would normally have started the next day.

We accepted!

For more about the lovely Lithuanian food, hang on until next week!

Our stay at Vilnius Home Bed and Breakfast was a delight.

When you book a room on-line, you can never be entirely sure what you’re going to get and can only hold your breath and cross your fingers.

I didn’t know what to expect in Lithuania and was surprised at what we received.

In the Family Room.

In the Family Room.

The Family Room consisted of six (6) bunk beds, each with a set of drawers that you could lock and individual light and power supply outlet, a table, two (2) chairs and a huge bean bag. There was also a private balcony which had a garden table and two (2) garden chairs, perfect for summer hanging out and chilling!

There were only seven (7) rooms in the whole house so there was a bathroom on each floor which was shared. It was clean and fitted out with shampoo/conditioner, shower gel and other toiletries which you could use free of charge, if you so desired. Each guest also had two (2) sets of towels.

One of the double rooms.

One of the double rooms.

The beauty of a B&B is that if you’re nervous about visiting a country, it’s a lovely way to blend the virtues of a hotel and a hostel. You have the safety and security of a family home with the option of meeting people in an open kitchen. Very similar to a lovely place that we went to on our hiking trip in the mountains of Wales a few years old ago, that place was called The Old School Hostel and Bed & Breakfast.

Ah Wales. Love it!

But I digress.

With just seven (7) rooms, you’re able to meet as many people as you want and at the time that we were there we met a young pilot from Italy doing his advanced flight training in Lithuania (it’s cheaper!), a young couple from Poland, an old couple from Spain, and ourselves!

On our last day, we also met three beautiful young girls from Minsk (Belarus) who had just returned from Belgium. Once they knew that I was a corporate trainer, although shy, wanted to practice as much English as they could.

Gifts from Belarus.

Gifts from Belarus.

They were so sweet that before they left, they gifted me with a magnet of Belarus, some Belarus chocolate, and a traditional Belarus tea-towel! If you’re in any of the ex-Russian States and looking for cheap flights to the West, then Vilnius is the place to be!

You can also cook in the kitchen (as food & drink are not allowed in the bedrooms), and crockery and cutlery and other cooking utensils were readily available. A sofa and soft cushions were also scattered around so that if you didn’t want to stay in your room, you could take your laptop into the kitchen. The kitchen also had a flat screen TV that was on a loop of music from VH1.

For the first time, I actually saw the video of some of my favourite contemporary songs as I don’t watch TV! I do however watch films, DVD or Netflix series, and BBC Science & Travel programmes which I pre-record.

I just don’t watch regular TV!

A B&B always has a touch of home.

A B&B always has a touch of home.

Most importantly, Vilnius Home Bed and Breakfast had free WiFi, space to dump all our stuff after our long weary journey, free tea and coffee 24 hours a day and a free breakfast. Everything a couple, a group of friends, or a family with a young teenager, needs!

All this for €60.00 per night in the Family Room which for six (6) people would be €10.00 per night, and in double rooms, from €29.00 per night.

Per room!

Pancakes from Lithuania!

Pancakes from Lithuania!

For breakfast, we had delicious home-made pancakes with home-made blueberry, strawberry, and apple jam with cream, yogurt and slices of fruit, And you could have as much as you wanted along with helping yourself to free tea and coffee.

Lovely!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Well, if you're on a smaller budget...!

Well, if you’re on a smaller budget…!

No Problem. Pretty much any Eastern European country is quite cheap and is never going to break the bank. If you’re on a budget, you could do worse. Beer is about €2.00 or $2.12. Meals including a starter, beer snacks, and lots of drinks came to about €20.00 or $21.20 and that was for the three of us. Including drinks!

If you’re making your own meals there are a few local supermarkets around and they are very helpful.

I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY, IS THERE SOMETHING FOR ME?

A view through the Gate of Dawn - iStockphoto.

A view through the Gate of Dawn – iStockphoto.

Sure there is.

Plenty in the Old Town.

I can’t tell you about the luxury of Lithuania but in a few weeks, I will be telling you about the luxury of Latvia, the artistic design element of Finland and the five-star glory of Estonia!

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO LITHUANIA?

In Vilnius, Lithuania.

We only went for three (3) days so this was a sloooooow cultural family trip.

There is plenty to do in Vilnius. You can:

  • Go on a free walking tour, of which there are plenty.
  • Check out some of the lovely churches and places of worship which are just bursting to be visited.
  • Go to the National Museum of Lithuania.
  • Visit the Vilnius Picture Gallery.
  • Pay your respects in the Jewish Quarter.
  • Go up Gediminas’ Tower and admire the Old Town.
  • Climb up the various hills and fortifications hill and take as many panoramic pictures as you want.
  • Merely ramble along the cobbled historical streets.
  • Check out the various cafes, bars and restaurants for a quick bite and a few rounds of Lithuanian beer and vodka!
  • Go shopping.

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Vilnius is so small that everywhere is walkable.

Taxis are cheap. A taxi from our B&B to the international coach-bus station cost a fabulous €3.60!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Don't forget your hat!

Don’t forget your hat!

Yes, the weather.

We arrived at the end of March and it began to snow. Very briefly, but still! Winter had been minimal in the UK and Germany this year, and it came as a bit of a shock. In fact, most of Northern Europe experienced snow this year.

At Easter!

As a result, it was snowy, rainy and freezing cold, which we weren’t really dressed for. On the first day.

We adjusted soon after LOL!

On talking to our host, this type of weather is pretty typical in Lithuania so hoods up, hats on, think gloves and welcome to the windy cold.

Laurel & Hardy. Shhhhhh!

Laurel & Hardy. Shhhhhh!

MY VERDICT:

I found Vilnius to be quiet and clean and the people enormously friendly and welcoming. It’s a really small town and very easy to navigate. English is widely spoken, the Old Town is lovely and if you’re going to the Baltic Region then Vilnius is a must. In fact, we met people from Australia, France, Belarus, Poland, Italy and Spain. Pretty much everyone we met was doing the Baltic Run.

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Never say never!

A rather disturbing-looking doll!

A rather disturbing-looking doll!

For more information about coach-bus travel to Vilnius, please contact: Lux Express.

For more information about a family-based B&B, please contact: Vilnius Home Bed and Breakfast.

For more information about an independent free walking tour, please contact: Vilnius With Locals.

This article is part-sponsored by Lux Express and Vilnius Home Bed and Breakfast.

We received a part-complimentary-part-discounted stay on our B&B but all opinions and the fantastic Lithuanian dishes that I thoroughly enjoyed, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Stay tuned!

Next week, I’ll be writing about the wonderful Lithuanian food and drink. Oh my!

After that, there will be posts on what we did in Riga, Latvia and our experience in Tallinn in Estonia with the help of the Tallinn Card, what the view was like on the ferry crossing from Estonia to Finland with TALLINK SLJA LINE and what we thought about Helsinki in Finland!

International Games Week Berlin 2015 is a leading cross-industry communication and networking platform for games businesss, development and culture, and will be taking place between April 21-26, 2015.

I’ll be going to TBEX Europe (Travel Bloggers Exchange) an International Networking Conference, for the first time! It’ll be taking place in Costa Brava, Catalunya, Spain from 30.04.15 – 02.05.15.

Strictly Stand Up English Comedy Night will be taking place at the Quatsch Comedy Club on 29.04.15.

Eddie Izzard will be back in Germany and will be front-lining a killer international night of comedy at the Admirals Palast on 08.05.15.

The Berlin Music Video Awards will be taking place from May 27.05.15 – 30.05.15. Anybody can apply!

The Berlin Fashion Film Festival will be taking place on 05.06.15.

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re going to miss all the good stuff!

April is going to be invigorating.

Watch this space!

Lithuanian vodka!

Lithuanian vodka!

Have you ever been to Vilnius? Have you ever taken a long distance coach-bus trip around Europe? Pancakes or bacon and sausages?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

Oh, the Baltics. If you haven’t been. You’re so last year!

Tallinn, Estonia.

Tallinn, Estonia.

I’m in Estonia. I’m in Tallinn in fact.

Isn’t it exciting!

Yes, we travelled a little sooner than you thought but didn’t I tell you that you would be the first to know? And you are!

Oh yeah, it snowed.

And it also rained.

Don't forget to take a hat!

Don’t forget to take a hat!

So don’t forget your windbreaker or anorak, thick socks, hat, scarf and umbrella.

We didn’t have an umbrella.

Or a hat.

Actually, I did have a hat but I couldn’t wear it in the rain ‘cos it’s not that type of hat LOL!

But I digress.

lithuanian_welcomeWe’ve already been to Lithuania and Latvia and let me tell you, they are so worth the trip. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back LOL!

And as for travelling to the Baltics by coach-bus and via our part-sponsor – Lux Express, The Music Producer panicked a bit at the thought, but I have to tell you that it really wasn’t that bad at all.

From Berlin to Vilnius in Lithuania, we travelled with the Simple Express part of the company and it was just like any other coach-bus journey but with individual flat screens and WiFi, albeit not always working! However, from Vilnius onwards, well, well!

Lux Express.

Lux Express.

I couldn’t believe how coach-bus journeys have changed. We met so many people who were doing the Baltic Route. In fact, we met a French fellow in Vilnius and met him again in Riga! Unsurprisingly, most people were travelling by coach-bus and we met only one (1) group of girls who were driving.

From Belarus!

One Australian guy was actually annoyed because his coach-bus didn’t have the facilities that we had! I mean, with nice clean wide seats, free WiFi, individual flat screens for films and shows, free headphones which you helped yourself to, and free hot drinks like tea, coffee and hot chocolate, I’m thinking, yes please!

And once we got to the smaller countries, we took the empty seats and were able to stretch out even further! They even had seatbelts and floor lights just like on an aeroplane.

Riga 1650.

Riga 1650.

So for now, I’ve given you the lowdown of where we were going to go in Lithuania and Latvia.

See how it now runs off my tongue unlike a year ago, when I simply hadn’t a clue!

And now, I’m going to tell you where we’re going in Estonia and Finland, and roughly what we’re going to be doing. Again, this is the plan but as you know, plans change.

As does the weather!

Read on:

ESTONIA

Estonian Young Folk.

Estonian Young Folk.

Estonia, officially called the Republic of Estonia, is a country surrounded by Finland, Latvia, and Russia. It is considered one (1) of the smallest countries in the European Union, as it only has a country-wide population of 1.3 million people!

An advanced, highly economic country, its history with Finland is tightly connected, coming from an ancient type of Finnish people! The Estonian language stems from Finno-Ugric which is closely related to Finnish and Sami, with a distant link to Hungarian.

Estonia is so far North that it’s on the same latitude as parts of Alaska and Siberia!

Estonia’s modern development has risen so quickly and achieved so much success that Estonia is often described as one of the most wired countries in Europe and has the nickname of “e-Estonia!”

Denmarks' flag in 1219.

Denmarks’ flag in 1219.

Here’s a little history:

Estonia has just 400,000 people but has lived in the region for over 10,000 years! They are closer to their Nordic cousins in culture and language than to their Baltic neighbours and were ruled by the Danes, Poles, Swedes, Germans and Russians. They became independent in 1918, lost it to half a century of occupation and only regained their independence in 1991 following the Singing Revolution.

It became  a member of the EU and NATO in 2004 and also uses the Euro as its main currency.

TALLINN

Street in the Old Town @Tallinn City Tourist Office & Convention Bureau

Street in the Old Town
@Tallinn City Tourist Office & Convention Bureau

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is known around the world for its Hanseatic architecture and used to be known as a town call Reval. The preserved cobblestone streets of the city and it’s houses dates back as far as the 11th century in the Medieval age where brave Estonian knights rode through medieval architecture and made pacts with Baltic German nobility!

Amid the Gothic houses of merchants and Guild houses, churches and warehouses, Tallinn’s Old Town offers such a medieval flair and authenticity, that no other city in the Baltic region can offer 15th and 16th century towers and walls, as well as the oldest Gothic Town Hall in all of Northern Europe!

Tallinn Medieval Days. @Tallinn City Tourist Office & Convention Bureau

Tallinn Medieval Days.
@Tallinn City Tourist Office & Convention Bureau

The Old Town is just bursting with culture and is also preserved as part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage so we’ll be going to Tallinn not once, but twice! We’ll be looking forward to capturing the legends of ghosts and spirits, the mysterious touch of castles and medieval buildings, with the help of the Tallinn Card 72 hours, for ourselves. The Tallinn Card was kindly offered to us by the Tallinn City Tourist Office & Convention Bureau.

Thank you.

We will be using the Tallinn Card to explore Tallinn and travel through the city. We’re most likely to go on a sightseeing tour so that we can visit beyond the city, we’ll definitely be hopping into a few museums that focus on Estonian history, culture and art such as the Estonian History Museum and the Natural History Museum, the Epping Tower, the walls and fortresses, the Marizapan Museum. Yes, marzipan!

Oh, it’s going to be so much fun!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" having fun in Bangkok.

“The Tall Young Gentleman” having fun in Bangkok.

We won’t ramble this time along as young teenagers are easily bored, so we’ll be tiring ourselves with outdoor activities, trying and tasting typical Estonian peasant food such as soup, black bread, pork, Estonian sausages, potatoes and fish, Russian elegance, and such delights (adults only) as Estonian wine, vodka, beer and a traditional drink called kali or Russian kvass.

A 2nd Breakfast?!

A 2nd Breakfast?!

We will be staying for three (3) days at the oldest hotel in Estonia, the luxury 5-star boutique hotel – The Hotel St. Petersbourg. The elegant hotel is located right in the heart of Tallinn’s Old Town and only has 27 rooms! We’ll be in one of the twin superior rooms and as usual, location and history is absolutely key, as well as free WiFi, a full buffet or a’la carte breakfast, a mini iPad for use in the room, and a free morning sauna.

TravellersChoice2013Ah European saunas.

Gulp and fear of the unknown!

On our return back from Finland, we will also be staying for only one (1) day more at the 4-star charming My City Hotel. My City Hotel (formerly the Domina Inn City Hotel) is a charming little hotel of 68 rooms, situated in the heart of Tallinn’s Old Town and is decorated with Italian modern art. We’ll be in one of the Superior Twin Rooms. And as previously stated, the most important point for a comfortable Spring Break with a teenager is a historical central location, spaciousness, free WiFi, a full buffet breakfast, and fluffy slippers!

I certaintly won't be going to the sauna European style. Don't forget, I'm British!

I certainly won’t be going to the sauna European style. Don’t forget, I’m British!

Oh, but again, European saunas.

Double gulp and screaming down the street!

FINLAND

Finland.So many people know of Finland, Lapland, reindeer, and Father Christmas, but how many people have really been there?

Have you?

I didn’t think so!

Finland, also known as the Republic of Finland, is not really a Baltic country but a Nordic one. It’s often lumped together with the Baltic States because of the relative ease and physical closeness. In reality, Finland is bordered by Sweden, Norway, Russia and Estonia.

Ice Church. @VisitFinland

Ice Church.
@VisitFinland

Finland is full of interesting contrast such as the Midnight Sun and days full of darkness in Winter. Over two-thirds of the world’s people who experience the Midnight Sun, actually live in Finland!

Wow!

In fact, in the most Northern part of Finland, the sunlight can be present for a consecutive number of over 70 days!

In land mass, Finland is the 8th largest country in Europe but with one of the lowest populations. It has just 5.4 million people, 37 national parks, 70% of the country covered with trees, and 15.8 inhabitants per every km2.

Helsinki Central Railway Station. @VisitFinland.

Helsinki Central Railway Station.
@VisitFinland.

Here’s some history:

Finland was once part of Sweden and as a result of this, the official language in Finland is both Swedish and Finnish! 91% speak Finnish, 54% speak Swedish and 1,700 indigenous people who live in Northern Lapland, speak Sámi. Finland was also a part of the Russian Empire and briefly became an independent republic in 1917 until WWII. It joined the UN in 1955, became a neutral nation, joined the EU in 1995, and has the Euro as its official currency.

HELSINKI

Helsinki Monument, Finland. @VisitFinland

Helsinki Monument, Finland.
@VisitFinland

I would like to go to Lapland one of these days, but for this journey, we’ll be going to the very cultural city of Helsinki which is the capital, and also has a 100 km long shoreline and around 300 islands!

Helsinki as the capital of Finland, was founded in 1550 and has a little over half a million people living there. It’s a modern European city famous for its culture, design, and high technology, and its own unique cultural space. It is traditional but modern and is internationally renowned for its strong Finnish design, bold and innovative culinary suave, and it’s hip urban nuances, in a backdrop of sea and forest!

Helsinki Hakaniemi Market. @VisitFinland

Helsinki Hakaniemi Market.
@VisitFinland

I’m not entirely sure yet but we probably won’t ramble around this time either as Helsinki isn’t that type of city, but is trendy and hipster-like. As a result, we will be checking out areas full of design shops, antique shops, museums and galleries. We’ll also be trying and testing Helsinki’s food culture such as potatoes, dried, smoked and simmered fish and meat, and characteristic food such as stroganoff, salted and pickled fish, and meatballs with reindeer.

If we can find it!

We will be staying for two (2) nights at the very artistically designed GLO Hotel Art which is an exclusive, charming lifestyle hotel built around a century-old Art Nouveau castle. Our artdesign hotel is located in the heart of the Helsinki Design District and has 171 rooms. We’ll be in one of the GLO Comfort Twin rooms and as before, location and attractiveness is key to a wonderful experience as well as free WiFi, a flat screen TV, a full buffet breakfast, and more fluffy slippers!

GLO Hotel Art is a winner of Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice 2014 award and was ranked number 15 among the most popular hotels in Helsinki.

Very exciting!

Sailing away! Photo @AS Tallink Grupp

Sailing away!
Photo @AS Tallink Grupp

We will be crossing the sea because we’re also on a sponsorship deal with TALLINK SLJA LINE.

TALLINK is an Estonian shipping company currently operating Baltic Sea cruise ferries and ships from Estonia to Finland, Sweden, Latvia and Germany. We will be sailing with them from Estonia to Finland and back to Estonia.

We’ll be taking both the Tallink Shuttle Star and the Superstar cruises across the Baltic Sea.

Happy Estonian people!

Happy Estonian people!

Many tourists as well as Estonian and Finnish, people regularly take day trips across the water, as the ships travel from city to city in just 2 hours.

All year round!

However, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I would actually like to stay in Helsinki for much longer than 12 hours, but if you’re pushed for time, just take the day cruise instead.

It’s only a two (2) hour crossing so we’ll be using the time to wander along the ship and admire the sea view.

It’s going to be fresh and windy!

Pancakes from Lithuania!

Pancakes from Lithuania!

This article is part-sponsored by Lux Express and TALLINK SLJA LINE, and the Tallinn City Tourist Office & Convention Bureau. We received a 72 hour complimentary Tallinn Card  and we get a little discount on the hotels, but all opinions and the delicious food and drink that I thoroughly consumed, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I’ll tell you what happened in Lithuania and how we survived an 18.5 hour coach-bus adventure!

Stay tuned!

International Games Week Berlin 2015 is a leading cross-industry communication and networking platform for games businesss, development and culture, and will be taking place between April 21-26, 2015.

I’ll be going to TBEX Europe (Travel Bloggers Exchange) an International Networking Conference, for the first time! It’ll be taking place in Costa Brava, Catalunya, Spain from 30.04.15 – 02.05.15.

Strictly Stand Up English Comedy Night will be taking place at the Quatsch Comedy Club on 29.04.15.

Eddie Izzard will be back in Germany and will be front-lining a killer international night of comedy at the Admirals Palast on 08.05.15.

The Berlin Music Video Awards will be taking place from May 27.05.15 – 30.05.15. Anybody can apply!

The Berlin Fashion Film Festival will be taking place on 05.06.15.

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in the April, you’re going to miss all the exciting stuff!

April is going to be blooming!

Watch this space!

Goating around in Riga, Latvia!

Goating around in Riga, Latvia!

Would you take a long distance coach-bus journey around Europe? Can you imagine visiting Riga, and sailing away to Helsinki?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!