In a rainy October weekend, I attended the Lithuanian Film festival in Berlin, while mixing it with memories from a trip in the heart of Vilnius years ago. I started thinking of special friendships and remembered the Constitution of the “Republic” of Užupis, that claims “everyone has the right to make mistakes”.
Anniversary edition of 10 years „Litauisches Kino Goes Berlin“ ran between October 28th to November 1st at ACUD Kino and Sputnik Kino, the last weekend before the new „light“ lockdown starts in Germany for the whole month of November 2020. Surreal year.
At the invitation of my friend Ingrida, I went to the screening of “Invisible” by Ignas Jonynas, a movie favorite of the Festival, about a former dancer that pretends to be blind in a dance competition, but his past mistakes literally haunt him. The theme of the movie explores also an “self-imposed blindness” for all humans when it comes to the reality around ourselves.
Vilnius surprised me with the cobbled stone streets, creative street art, good food, beetroot soup, colorful places and friendly locals. The small Baltic country, often mixed with Estonia or Latvia, feels as the EU ambassador for basketball (very tall and talented people), while Lithuanian language is one of the most archaic in the world. As many local friends told me, the unique Lithuanian language is even related to Sanskrit.
I remember the Old Town of Vilnius with its Baroque Architecture, Gothic Churches, souvenir shops, small cafés or surprising streets. Literaty street is an alley in the Old Town that pays tribute to the poets and writers who have influenced Lithuanian literature.
Definitely I recommend stops at Vilnius Cathedral, Church Complex of St.Anne, Casimir’s Church, Vilnius University and at Gate of Dawn with the nearby chapel, the remaining gate of the former wall that once surrounded the city.
Unforgettable was the best view over Vilnius from Gediminas’ Tower, alongside the remains of the tower. And for even a greater view, I remember we continued walking a staircase until reaching the hill of The Three Crosses.
Republic of Uzupis
Our hostel was located near the Republic of Užupis, across the Vilnia River, a small bohemian area. The tolerated self-proclaimed republic, home to many artists has even its own constitution. Užupis literally means “beyond the river”.
What surprised me was not the content of the constitution, but the fact that it was written in several languages, including my own mother tongue, Romanian, but also many other translations, including Japanese, German, Scottish, Icelandic or Greek. Felt suddenly closer to home.
Some of the around 40 rules and mottos/jokes, rich in both kindness and humor:
- Everyone has the right to make mistakes
- Everyone has the right to have faith
- Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter, and a tiled roof
- No one has the right to violence
- Everyone may be independent
- A dog has the right to be a dog
- Sometimes everyone had the right to be unaware of their duties.
Rain, Rain, Go away
Apparently Lithuania is derived from the name “lietus” which actually means rain. As I am writing in this gray weekend in Berlin, I remember this song and the days in June 2016 I went to Vilnius for a special event. Lithuania is not just a Baltic country for me, but the hometown of a good friend of mine and the place I went to attend the wedding of sunny Anna in Trakai.
Lastly, the trip to Trakai was an opportunity to notice the rich nature of Lithuania, while visiting the city of Trakai Castle, surrounded by Lake Galve, so this definitely is a great idea for a day trip.
Vilnius is a city with an evolving coffee culture. As some years passed since my visit, my friends recommended:
- “Augustas Ir Barbora love story” in the Old Town at Stiklių 7 for “their romantic atmosphere, coffee and cakes”
- “Liu Patty desertine” in Užupis at Užupio g. 20, for specialty roasted coffee and desserts
- Vegan cafe “Chaika” at Totorio 7.