Erik held his final work-related meeting Saturday morning, and began preparing to return home for a brief visit before the next overseas jaunt. The weather was rather inhospitable, with brief periods of sunlight interrupted by torrents of rain. While the intensity does not rival Kansas gully washers, it made strolling about town a bit unpleasant. In any case, Erik explored the artsy area of Vilnius: Uzupis. The photo above is the grand Gothic St. Anne's, along the route to Uzupis.
An angel greets visitors to Uzupis, a charming neighborhood located across the Vilnia river, a small tributary of the Neris.
The Bernardine Cemetery was established in the early 19th century. Like Lychakiv Cemetery in L'viv, the Bernardine Cemetery features many interred Poles (unsurprising given the history of the two cities). As Erik was strolling through the cemetery, a strong rain began to fall, prompting him to seek shelter in the Old Town area.
The rain encouraged Erik to enjoy an early lunch. He has fastidiously avoided the Lithuanian specialty: "zeppelins" (cepelinai). Lea ordered a thoroughly inedible version of the dish during the last visit. But, Erik felt that zeppelins deserved at least one more try (even Andrew Zimmern gives every dish a couple of bites). The zeppelins were better than he remembered, and reminded him a bit of halushki (the Slovak national dish). Erik's "traditional" zeppelins featured the standard potato-based dough around a filling made from ground meat with minimal seasoning. Traditional zeppelins are boiled and served with a sauce of sour cream and pork bits. They were a hearty lunch on a brisk, rainy day.
As the rain was falling, Erik returned to Gedimino Street. Off in the distance, he heard the unmistakable sounds of a marching band. He followed the music until he discovered a political rally in the form of a parade. While Lithuania's presidential election is over, European parliamentary elections will be held on June 7. Young people affiliated with the Liberal and Center Union marched down the street, carrying banners, playing instruments, and cheering.
No political rally/parade would be complete without cheerleaders. One of Erik and Lea's most amusing memories of Vilnius is Omnitel's deployment of cheerleaders to encourage new customers to commit to a cell phone contract. In this photo, polka-dot clad young ladies show off their moves to the marching band's rendition of "Rock Around the Clock." While the symbolic implication of this tune is probably lost on the crowd ("our party will take you back to the '50s" - not a good decade for Lithuania), it seemed to be one of a handful of songs that the band had mastered.
Erik's trip ends tomorrow, with a trip home interrupted by a long layover in Frankfurt.