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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

All Saints Day

Antakalnis Cemetery, All Saints' Day night

Today was All Saints' Day, the day after Halloween and a national holiday here in Lithuania. It was also (in the morning and afternoon, at least) a day of overcast skies and temperatures hovering around 2°C (36°F), though the rain and snow in the forecast never materialized...until later. So with my daughter entertaining a classmate today and my wife wanting to relax at home, a bike ride seemed as good an idea as any. I headed out before noon and rode toward Vingis Park, located at the western end of Čiurlionio gatvė. Along the way I passed the Embassy of Japan (the white building next door is the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia. The residence of the Belarusian ambassador is also in the neighborhood, though their embassy is in a different location). FYI: The Republic of China/Taiwan does not have a representative office in Lithuania; what passes for the Taiwanese community here (I know of at least two persons: Shu-E and Amber) is served by the Taipei Mission in the Republic of Latvia, in Riga :


This cool-looking, Gothic-style building is down the road from the Japanese and Latvian embassies:


Taiwan may a cyclist's paradise, with its scenic east coast and beautiful mountains, but does it have a cemetery for German soldiers killed in Lithuania in the two world wars? I think not:



The cemetery is surprisingly well-kept and free of any overt signs of vandalism. After more than seventy years, someone remembers:


Vingis Park is surrounded on three sides by the Neris River:


This was the first time I could try out my mountain bike on the kind of terrain it was designed to tackle. The result is that the bike is too dirty to bring inside the apartment:


Glimpsing the TV Tower on the opposite bank of the Neris:


Down by the river:


My Trek takes a break:


Another look at the TV Tower:


The home field of the Vilnius Rugby Academy. Vingis Park is also home to a soccer field and an open-air amphitheater, the latter used for the Lithuanian Song and Dance Festival in July. A music-and-fireworks show was held there back in September:


I'm not sure what this is supposed to signify:


Despite the cold and the short distance covered, I managed to work up a sweat. It was fun getting off of paved surfaces, though my bike did get bogged down in mud at one point, forcing me to backtrack. Should be interesting to go cycling when the snow starts coming down. On the way home I paused for a moment outside the Lithuanian Russian Drama Theater, housed in a building constructed in 1913:


The snow did start coming down, just after sunset and just as my wife, daughter and I headed out to visit Antakalnis Cemetery. Coworkers recommended seeing this graveyard on the night of All Saints' Day, and they were right - the sight of numerous candles lit to honor departed loved ones created a magical scene in the cold night air:



If I'm reading the French correctly, the remains of soldiers from twenty countries that were part of Napoleon's Grand Army of the Republic are interred here, having died on their retreat following the disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812:


Another memorial dedicated to soldiers, though in the dark it was impossible to clearly make out any inscriptions:


Even in the cold, dark and snowy conditions (though the latter wasn't sticking to the ground), it was apparent that Antakalnis Cemetery is a beautiful resting spot. I'd like to go back in the daytime as some point to see how big it is and who is laid to rest there:



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