Sunday, September 5, 2010

Another Lithuania Adventure, Part 1: The Buzzing Avenue

Over Labor Day weekend, Erik returned to Lithuania for a research trip related to his NSF project. He is working with a Lithuanian collaborator to finalize the coding of their data about political party personnel decision-making. He arrived on Friday sans luggage (which didn't make it through the connection in Frankfurt), but made do with what he had stored in his small backpack. Saturday and Sunday were working days, but he had an opportunity to stroll during breaks.

Just like in the US, Vilnius is enjoying a holiday weekend as it entertains visitors with Capital Days. The photos were taken along the "Buzzing Avenue" - the label for all of the activities on Gedimino (the main drag of Vilnius). The fair features artists and artisans of all sorts - from contemporary and abstract to traditional and folk - as well as musicians, dancers, buskers, kids' games, and food vendors.

One of the stages for musical acts is located about two blocks from Erik's hotel. He caught the end of this performance of traditional singing and dancing. You can see the dancers' lovely costumes in the three photos that follow.

Buskers moved about the fair, along with an active group of Hare Krishnas and Scottish soccer fans (who flew in for Friday night's game against Lithuania - a rousing 0-0 tie). The Scots wore kilts all weekend long (see below) and were a rather happy lot (unfortunately, Erik missed the opportunity to snap a photo of an especially giddy, large Scot dancing with the Hare Krishnas).

The buskers ranged from older, more seasoned performers (see the top photo) to families playing traditional Lithuanian favorites, such as Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" (see below). Indeed, American music was far more prevalent in the setlists than Erik expected and was not limited to Ragtime classics. A youth group sang and danced to Elvis Presley ("Jailhouse Rock" in Lithuanian) and a duo belted out an acoustic version of a Pixies tune.

Vendors of all sorts lined the street. The pleasant, rustic smell of burning wood wafted down the street as restaurants served hungry visitors traditional foods. Erik had some of the yellow stuff, which is not corn despite its appearance in the photo below. Instead it is a kind of split pea stew that is usually accompanied by a hunk of pork and beer. Erik just had the peas. [For full disclosure, he has already visited his favorite pub - Alaus Namai - for local farmhouse beer.]

A blacksmith showed off his craft, bending iron to make various implements.

While the weather occasionally failed to cooperate on Saturday, with unexpected torrential downpours, the festival provided a nice break from work. Sunday was sunny all day, making the festival an even nicer break.

No comments: