I may have shed a few tears at the Museum of Latvian Occupation while looking at photos of the Baltic Way, a political demonstration in 1989 against Soviet occupation where about 2 million people joined hands to form a human chain reaching over 600 kilometers across Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
Filled with so many emotions for the Baltics, there was no way I wasn’t going to love Lithuania. Of course it still helped that Vilnius is so pretty, with its winding streets, pastel buildings, oh so many churches, and never-ending sunshine.
Well, at least it was sunny the entire time we were in Vilnius. I assume it just has perfect weather year-round?
This was my second time visiting Lithuania’s capital, and I think the city grows on me more and more. It’s small, but that means that it’s incredibly walkable, so it was easy to see both the tourist-filled and postcard-perfect center as well as a bit of the outskirts.
Can you guess what our first stop in Vilnius was?
Tracking down Frank Zappa, of course! Well, at least his statue.
If you’re surprised to hear that Vilnius has a statue of Frank Zappa, you’re probably not alone. A bunch of Googling left me pretty puzzled as to what exactly Frank Zappa has to do with Lithuania, which is probably because the answer is nothing – he never even visited.
But after independence it was time to get rid of the plethora of communist monuments in town (I think there was a Lenin statue in every city I visited in Russia) and in the new spirit of democracy it seems that the city agreed to erect a statue of this favorite artist! And who did they choose to sculpt the statue but Konstantinas Bogdanas, previously most well-known for his renditions of communist heroes. It was a new start for everyone!
I’ll spare you the many selfies Dan and I took with the statue. Let’s just say that we were pretty excited. I mean, could Vilnius be any cooler?
Oh but there’s more!
In 1997, two years after Frank Zappa’s statue came to Vilnius, a group of eccentrics declared their neighborhood an independent state, complete with an army (of 11).
The Uzupis constitution hints at the tongue-in-cheek nature of the republic, declaring such rights as:
Everyone has the right to die, but it is not a duty.
Everyone has the right to sometimes be unaware of his duties.
Everyone has the right to encroach upon eternity.
But some rights are quite serious:
Everyone is capable of independence.Everyone is responsible for his freedom.A cat is not obliged to love its master, but it must help him in difficult times.
How serious is Uzupis’ declaration of independence? Is it significant that the country was founded on April Fool’s Day?
Oh to be able to answer life’s puzzling questions.
Where to Stay in Vilnius
We stayed at Jimmy Jumps House, which we chose solely based on their promise to serve delicious waffles for breakfast. The waffles were delicious, but lucky for us, the other aspects of the hostel were also wonderful! The mattresses were super comfy, there were two large common areas and kitchens, the staff were friendly and full of advice about Vilnius, and in general there was a great atmosphere in the hostel.
This was the perfect place to mingle with other travelers, and with its central location in the Old Town I highly recommend staying at Jimmy Jumps House!
Many thanks to Jimmy Jumps House for hosting us in Vilnius. The hostel link is also an affiliate link, so if you book this or any hotels through my link I’ll earn a small commission, at no extra expense to you – this helps cover the cost of running my site.