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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Killing Time

Abandoned Soviet-era bunker, now home to the local bat colony

I'm at roughly the halfway point of my enforced bachelorhood in Vilnius. The girls are currently back in Taiwan, leaving me to revert to the wild, crazy days back when I was single - namely bad dietary habits, laziness and ennui. It isn't much fun without my wife and daughter around, and I'm not embarrassed to say that I much prefer the married, family lifestyle. The job keeps me focused during the workweek, but on weekends it's a challenge finding something interesting to do. Mostly I go for a lot of walks, during which only occasionally do I tread new ground or come across things I hadn't noticed before. The following are a few photos of the past few weeks holding down the fort until my better halves return to the fold from the mystical, far-off lands of the Orient...or at least Taiwan, anyway...

The sometimes rainy weather produced this spectacular rainbow. You may notice the outlines of a second arc in one of the photos, a phenomenon I comment on in the video at the end of this post:



On one Saturday afternoon I drove to Lithuania's second largest city, Kaunas. Unfortunately, the tower of the St.  Francis Xavier Church & Monastery (pictured below) turned out to not be open on weekends (and so went the opportunity to take in the best view of Kaunas' Old Town, at least according to Lonely Planet), while the Sugihara House, home of the Japanese diplomat who saved 6000 Jewish lives by issuing transit visas to those escaping the advancing Nazi terror (and against his government's orders) was closed due to renovation work. A three-hour round trip for nothing:


There have been some interesting or amusing scenes on my evening walks around Vilnius:




I revisited Vilnius University one afternoon, after having gone there with Amber back on a cold afternoon in late January. Unfortunately, the campus bookstore I was hoping to check out turned out to not be open on weekends (I'm sensing a pattern here), despite my guidebook's claim to the contrary. At least I did get to see the Seasons frescoes on the upper walls and arches of the Lithuanian Philology Center:


The 19th-century Arcade Courtyard:


The late 16th-century Library Courtyard, with its astronomical instrument frescoes on the fourth floor of the old observatory building and the bronze doors of the university library:



I took a walk along the Eroziniai Kalvynai Cognitive Trail, which, if Google Translate is to be believed, means "erotic mountains". I alas did not have any sensual encounters, but I did learn two very important things:

1. There are a lot of mosquitoes in the woods of Lithuania
2. There's a good reason why the roadside isn't included as part of the marked trails, unless you're the kind who enjoys brushing up against passing cars on shoulderless bends in the road

Still, it was good to be out in nature, even if the trails were only a few minutes' drive from the center of Vilnius:


The aforementioned former bunkers. Despite several of them being unlocked or ungated, I didn't go inside. Mosquitoes are one thing, but I've had enough of having to deal with bats while living in Taichung County 台中縣:




Another time I walked the length and breadth of Gedimino Prospektas, the capital's most fashionable street (but surprisingly devoid of crowds the afternoon I was there). A failed attempt at a selfie reflection in one of the windows of the Parliament House:


Looking toward the TV Tower on the left and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Saint Virgin's Apparition:


Žemaitė was a 19th-century Lithuanian writer:


Washington Square plays host every year on July 23 to a ceremony commemorating the Welles Declaration, in which the U.S. government refused to recognize the forced annexation of the three Baltic republics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) into the Soviet Union. This never fails to annoy the Russian media (heh heh):


The interior and exterior of the 15th-century Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, one of Old Town's most atmospheric houses of worship:



A gathering of cats in a courtyard. A fourth cat was crossing the lawn in the background as I was taking the photo. I looked down afterward to check out the pic and saw a fifth cat at my feet, looking up at me:


Vilna Gaon, "the saintly genius from Vilnius", standing on the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna, destroyed surprisingly by the Soviets and not by the Nazis:


It's still another two-and-a-half weeks until the family comes back to Vilnius. I can always bide the time by marveling at the wonders of nature


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