Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lithuania Adventure, Part 1: Capital of Culture

Erik is traveling extensively during May and early June, with the first trip taking him to Lithuania. He is involved in a collaborative research project on how political parties make personnel decisions and is responsible for covering Lithuania and Ukraine. In addition to working on this project, Erik timed his travels to coincide with Lithuania's presidential election to be held tomorrow. He will have an opportunity to observe the election and attend post-election events.

His first day focused on getting re-oriented to Lithuania's lovely capital, Vilnius. Erik and Lea visited Vilnius five years ago and were enamored with the city. It shares some of L'viv's architectural flourishes, and features an extensive "old town" with winding cobblestone roads and striking churches that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This year, Vilnius is Europe's "Capital of Culture." Visitors are reminded of this designation by oddly shaped, yellow-green sculptures around town that say "kultura" (see the photo on the left). Yesterday, a boat race (featuring crews rowing Viking longboats) passed by Erik's hotel window that overlooks the Neris river. The race was a part of a festival related to culture.

Erik and Lea were impressed with Vilnius in 2004, and at first glance it seems to have become an even lovelier city over the intervening years. Thankfully, its evolution has not ended the odd encounters that were a part of the first trip; we ran into several strange marketing events like the one you see below.

More to come as the trip progresses.

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