Sunday the 30th of September at 11:33pm (+03:00)

🗁 112 photos added to album https://i.amy.gy/201809-lithuania/.

Day trip to Trakai, Lithuania's number one domestic tourist destination. The town is squeezed between two large lakes, and features castles on islands, and an absolute butt-ton of interesting anthropological history.

The bus from Vilnius is €1.80 and takes about 30 minutes. They go pretty regularly so you don't need to plan much, just show up at the bus station. The bus station in Trakai is out of town, but Trakai ain't big, so you can walk to the other end in 30 minutes or so if you go directly.

I ambled around a bit and stopped for lunch on the lakeside, eventually making it to the big Island Castle. The entry is €8 which I thought was steep so I tried to wrangle a half price student ticket. No such luck. The museum is quite extensive, which detailed history of the area from the 1200s or so. There are also collections of artefacts, old and modern, and lots of information about the dereliction and restoration of the castle itself. Disappointingly access to the higher towers of the castle doesn't seem to be available. It was all very full of tourists. I spent a good hour and a half here though.

Then I ambled back through town, dropping into one of the big famous churches which was very ostentatious. I found the Karaim museum (€2 or €1 if you have an Island Castle ticket), which is tiny but suuuper interesting about this very small minority people, a few hundred of whom Vytautas the Great 'brought' over from Crimea in the 1400s and then.. built a town for. Having trouble figuring out exactly why or what happened here, even wikipedia isn't saying much. I guess records from then are sparse. There aren't many of these people left in Europe now - not that there were many to begin with - especially since Soviet stuff and Nazi stuff. Those who are are pretty well concentrated in Trakai, with others in Vilnius and Warsaw.

I went to the Trakai History Museum (€3) which is somewhat in the Peninsula Castle grounds, but is disappointingly tiny and doesn't contain anything castle-y. At some point a monastery was built there, and the museum is mostly if not entirely about Dominican monks, and has lots of Jesus-art.

The sun came back out so I took a €5 boat ride around the wee islands. I learnt stuff from the short audio commentary; this was definitely better value than the History museum.

Then I followed the coast back around to the bus station. On the way I detoured to check out some abandoned buildings I'd seen from the boat, which may or may not have been derelict Soviet concrete monstrosities. GPS trace for wandering around Trakai.

Back in Vilnius I made a beeline for Gyvas and had a cracking 'no-fish' tofu burger (wrapped in nori and deep fried!).

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