Monday, May 18, 2009

Lithuania Adventure, Part 3: The Day After

Erik plans to have meetings with representatives of the Central Electoral Commission, political parties, and political scientists. While he has made contact, Monday was an unofficial "day off." Because of yesterday's election, noone was available to meet today. Erik performed some work tasks, visiting the Lithuanian Statistical Bureau to seek out census data aggregated at the level of election districts, but also walked around the Old Town area.

Underneath the physical beauty of Vilnius lies an undercurrent of frustration and concern. The economic crisis is a major topic of conversation, and many Lithuanians are struggling. The taxi driver who transported Erik from the airport claimed to have made only 5 Litas ($2) in the last week (after he paid his boss for the car and covered fuel costs). While cabbies all over the world seem to exaggerate tales of woe to inspire generous tipping, his story was only one of many. In a linen shop, Erik spoke at length to the proprietor about difficult times. She made the linen goods and owned the store. While she had a staff manage the store for her, she laid off all but one person. She is originally from the countryside and maintains a home outside the city. She said that if it were not for her garden and animals (from which she makes her own milk, sour cream, butter, and gathers eggs), her family would be in dire straits.

Erik explored various landmarks: many of Vilnius' lovely churches, the former Jewish quarter (devastated in the Holocaust), and various sites along the main drag (Gedimino Street). Photos follow.

Gates of Dawn (exterior).

Basilian Gate.


Unknown church viewed from Gedimino.

Park along Gedimino.

Bridge outside Erik's hotel.

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