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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day(s)

The modern side of Vilnius

It was Mother's Day last Sunday (May 6) in Lithuania, but being Americans (officially, at least, in our host country) we waited until today to celebrate Motherhood. It was a low-key affair, with lunch at Saigon, one of the few Vietnamese eateries in central Vilnius. The beef pho was pretty good, and surprisingly filling, meaning that I'm going to have to make an effort to squeeze in another visit to try their desserts and Vietnamese coffee in the few weeks remaining here:



The woman of the hour. It isn't easy getting her out of the apartment these days for reasons known only to herself (she's wearing her Mother's Day gift around her neck):


It's been pretty quiet here the past couple of weeks. My daughter and I went into Old Town last weekend to do some Mother's Day shopping, and stopped by the Open Market for a snack and a drink:



As we walked past the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Consolation, I was surprised to see the usually-closed building apparently open to the public. The occasion turned out to be an exhibition called Dark Drawn:




It was a day for exhibitionists as the Vilnius Town Hall was hosting Lithuanian Press Photography 2018, featuring photos both political...:

Politicians gathered at the Lithuanian Radio and Television building in Vilnius to make speeches in memory of the victims of the January Events of 1991

The First Lady being eyed suspiciously by a World War II vet during President Trump's visit to Warsaw in July 2017

American soldiers in the Suwalki Gap during the 2017 Iron Wolf military exercises

...and non-political:

 We've all had days like this

 My favorite: a car approaching a main road at night

The destruction of the Lietuva Cinema (1965) in February 2017, sadly taking out one of the better examples of local graffiti in the process. In the theater's place will rise the Modern Art Center

Spring is the best time of year to be in Vilnius:


Amber adds her artistic contribution to the sidewalk in front of Vincas Kudirka Square:


On Lithuania's Mother's Day I wandered down to the Presidential Palace at noon to watch a military honor guard change the flags of the European Union, the national and state flags of Lithuania and NATO:





Following the ceremony, guards in medieval uniform stand at attention in front of the palace for an hour, providing families with some photo ops (in case you're wondering, we had ours taken in December 2016):



Later that afternoon I dragged my daughter away from her laptop for a bike ride through Old Town. We stopped for milkshakes and some fried tofu at a place claiming to sell "Asian street food", followed by an ice cream on Pilies gatvė:



We then crossed the river to check out the ghastly Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports:


An appropriate critique of Communist Modernism

Yesterday, Amber and I drove out to Lake Balsys (within the Vilnius city limits) and were surprised to find it busy with sunbathers and swimmers. Lithuanians don't waste time taking advantage of the sunshine once the snow has melted away:



Later we stopped first at Dr. Waffle for beef and chicken waffle burgers (plus a dessert for my daughter, on the house), before walking over to Gedimino prospektas for a hot dog-and-beer nightcap (the waffle burger wasn't enough for me!) during the Europe Day celebration:




And, finally, on yet another glorious spring afternoon, I went for a short bike ride after our Mother's Day lunch, taking in the views along the Neris (it isn't all 19th-century architecture, you know):



Happy Mother's Day!

A plaque on the ground in Lukiškių aikštė, possibly on the spot where a statue of Vladimir Lenin once stood - "Memory and Respect" (for those who fought and died over the centuries for the freedom of Lithuanians)

Getting ready to enjoy a gift from Belgium


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