Having left morning sorrows behind we strolled down Gediminas street (used to be called Adam Mickievicz street, as well as Saint George’s, Stalin’s and Lenin’s – depending on who ruled the city; in soviet times it was more known as Brodas – Lithuanian abbreviation of Broadway, tribute to longing for the freedom somewhere there – where chewing gum, jeans and vinyls of The Doors would sometimes be smuggled in).
That’s how it could have looked like in those days – hair probably longer, unless caught by milicija, who would shave it by force. And these are really most comfortable benches I have ever sat upon; sadly not on Brodas anymore, but I know where to find a few:
There is such a longing for the Brodas of those days that in 2013 masses gathered to recreate atmosphere: check the galery.
Neringa restaurant was our stop on this street, because lunch time it was. Myself and S voted for sitting in a genuine interior of soviet modernism (as opposed to faceless cosmopolitan terras), myself and Irmeli – we ate Neringa chicken Kijev (because this is what you eat there), and had one cepelinas for all (because this is what you eat in Lithuania). Of course, you can also eat pumpkin salad there as well, and even potato horns with beef tongue – in case you are into horns and tongues.
From Neringa Brodas – or Gediminas avenue – took us down through celebration of European days right to the Vilnius University (1579), one of the oldest in Northen Europe and the oldest in the Baltic states (though I am averse to this term, since the only thing so called Baltic states have in common is our soviet past). We had a guide Odeta, who opened to us some closed doors and told us some to-be-told stories.
Impressive libraries with painted ceilings: the one called under the name of it’s decorator Pranciškus Smuglevičius (in Bonhams auction in Etterbeek known as Franciszek Smuglevicz):
And Joachim Lelewel hall made me think of Leonard Cohen:
We also saw Saint Johns church and toilets with frescoes. Also my favorite fresco in the parlor of chair of Baltic languages: Metų laikai (Seasons of the year) painted by Petras Repšys. Shame can’t find any articles on this in English (or French, or German) – there is much too tell about it, but just viewing is fine as well:
Also Rimtautas Gibavičius frescoes of muses next to the chair of modern languages:
And yes, my father is Professor emeritus of Vilnius University, a big fan, faithful disciple and propagator of ideas of Algirdas Julius Greimas, Lithuanian-French scholar who would have turned 100 years old this year, the fact mentioned by UNESCO. Greimas is one of the most world renowned Lithuanian scientists in the field of social sciences, notably semiotics. There is even a 20 EUR coin issued for Greimas 100th anniversary – featuring his semiotic square (carree semiotique) :
Vilnius University had only one alumnum Nobel price winner: Czeslav Milosh, literature, 1980. Another Vilnius University Alumnus, professor of Yale Tomas Venclova flew together with Josif Brodskij as his closest friend to participate in Brodski’s Nobel ceremony. (Tomas Venclova has visited DGT 2? years ago). Our guide Odeta was hopeful that currently a second Vilnius University alumnus is very close to Nobel: Lithuanian scientist Šikšnys might win Nobel price in chemistry for discovering the method to cut and paste parts of individual DNA chain. I find it very impressive:
Done with Vilnius University, up to Sint John’s tower, perfect panoramas, selfies with floating hair, free time and – Ode to Joy!
DŽIAUGSMAS is Lithuanian spelling of Joy, also the name of the restaurant where belated celebration of Rytis BD took place. (Also the place where Brodskij used to stay with his Lithuanian friends when in Vilnius, having finished his bohemic sejours in Neringa). Dziaugsmas has an extremely minimalistic website, more informative FB page – but you can simply ask Stefano who was juggling with categories such as “wonderful”, “genious” – subliming into “divine” after having tasted his beef bones with secret ingredient which was not revealed even after KGB style threats. I was paralysed by resemblance of a dish and my Orla Kiely bag pattern:
And – how could I forget! – before Joy there was a Yllätys – Finnish surprise in Saint Catherines church, right in the middle between Joy and A&Rs school. Muntra musikanter were performing breathtaking and hard breaking Laatokka:
Shame we could not stay until Sibelius’ Finlandia nor to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. I bet it would not have been worse than this one:
And for the most tough ones after Joy turned into Alchemikas. All I remember is that choice was vast – 160 cocktails, did the girl say that? – and that R took a photo of her future e-mail signature:
Right places with right people is such a pleasure! And thanks I for the drinks!
P.S. And there is a specific quality to be able to leave at a right time – when temperatures drop by 21 degree Celsius from what they were yesterday and your flight is delayed because the wings need to be de-iced:
P.P.S. I have already finished this when stumbled upon this interesting table describing different Lithuanian generations in comparison with our western counterparts. It’s fair and interesting and explains why did we not have baby boomers.