Vilnius Warnings Or Dangers Tips by matcrazy1 Top 5 Page for this destination
Vilnius Warnings and Dangers: 60 reviews and 39 photos
CLOSED CHAPEL OF EXILES IN VILNIUS CATHEDRAL
There were 10 chapels inside the Vilnius Cathedral but all were closed when I visited this the most famous Lithuanian church.
The most impressive St. Camisir's Chapel was closed because of renovation works. Well, we and a few other visitors were allowed to get inside for a moment thanks to guys who worked there and... thanks to Phoenicians who invented money :-). Small coin was enough...
I could see a few chapels only through closed metal gates/fences like the Chapel of Exiles (St. Mary) on my picture. Luckily they opened them one by one for a group of Lithuanian speaking youths with hired guide (school trip), so... I could see a few of them (like the chapel of St. Vladislaus with world famous shroud of Turin).
Phone: 261 11 27
Vilnius was crossed by east-west railway track just south of the old town. There was railway station there at very good location for those who wanted visit the old town.
But the railway track at that place made some inconveniences for folks driving a car like me. There were few railway crossings: bridges over or tunnels under. I had to drive quite long on these cobblestones along the railway track(on my picture). By the way it was the only cobblestone road I saw in Vilnius.
INFO IN LITHUANIAN LANGUAGE
Points of interest in Vilnius were usually not well signed or even if, usually exclusively in Lithuanian or eventually in Russian or Polish.
Do not expect information tables in front of Vilnius churches and other point of tourist interest. Maybe someday... when more foreign tourists come to Vilnius.
Do you understand writings on my picture? They were put inside Vilnius TV tower, a place visited but numbers of foreign visitors as well, now. Hmm... they will add signs in English soon, I suppose. And Lithuanian was not that difficult to understand. I didn't know only ward "Rubine" there.
From Vytis (zanas) from Vilnius:
Rubine is the place where you leave clothes, locker-room or something.
Thank you, Vytis.
CROWDS IN FRONT OF RASU CEMETERY
I was in Vilnius twice, in May and in June 2004, both times on business days. The city was not crowded with hordes of tourists but... When I was for the second time I met crowds visiting Rasu Cemetery. A few buses from Poland came at one time.
Well, I found Vilnius the city visited by thousands of visitors from Poland arriving in groups by buses. OK, it was long free weekend in Poland in June when Corpus Christi catholic holiday was on Thursday. Except less comfortable sightseeing, the large number of visitors from Poland fully booked all (or almost all) medium-priced accommodations. I had to wait a bit to buy a guide-book (in Polish) to Rasu cemetery.
Polish long weekends are close to the following dates:
- 1-3 May,
- in June when Corpus Christi catholic holiday is (always on Thursday, I was just that time!)
- in August (15th is a catholic holiday).
Expect no vacancy in hotels and book in advance for these days!
WAITING PLACE :-)))
I had to wait almost one hour before I got to the top of Vilnius TV tower. I don't know why. There were not many visitors and both lifts (well one was for service staff only) were working but for staff only. I asked one person (lift-woman) and she replied me very seriously in Russian "nada zdat" (you need to wait). Hmm... and I was waiting, waiting, waiting. Others as well. It remained me "Soviet order" in not so old past...
Waiting was the main way of spending time in my country before communism collapse (1989) and probably in Lithuania as well.
Waiting? Yes! Waiting to enter the paradise that was the Soviet Union (up to 48 hours), before: waiting for... a passport (stored at a police office - a week or... a few months in a queque - registration every day in "waiting book" obligatory), waiting in looong queques to buy anything (a few hours or the whole night in crisis) or something more exotic like say... oranges (available in times of prosperity only), waiting for a free place in a restaurant, waiting in a queque to buy a car (1-2 years!), to get a flat (right to hire it to be exact - 52 years! in Krakow) etc., etc., etc. Difficult to believe now!
Now, people must wait only to pay taxes if they do it at last hours, to get to a doctor in public health service, sometimes at the post office or a bank and... to enter Poland (Europeam Union) back from Russia, Belarus or Ukraine (a few hours usually).
WHAT CAN HAPPEN
Well, I did see cars parked at places where it was forbidden esp. in Vilnius centre/downtown. I did see signs like on my picture. But I didn't see (never) police (or city companies) removing wrongly parked cars.
But, just in case... surely I can't recommend you parking where you want. Well, parking a car in Vilnius (on a street) was much easier than in any Western European capitals.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
When I got lost driving a car from Vilnius to Trakai (no signs!) I found quite different world which reminded me real, darker side of the Soviet Union I saw in 80' in western Ukraine. There were dirty areas of towns and villages with crumbling wooden and brick houses with boards or plastic foil instead of glasses in some windows, monumental, heavy and ugly cement buildings, grey or black and probably never painted.
Add somewhat sad, poorly and grey dressed locals walking somewhere along a bumpy highway. Add a group of medium-age guys with red faces sitting on a cement bench with a glass and bottle (of vodka?) and discussing something very loudly. The area did look neither clean nor safe although when I stopped to ask a local guy about the right way to Trakai he was very nice and got me brilliant info.
Well, it was not the best area and time to stop and take pictures. It was getting dark and I still wasn't sure which way to drive, but there was a railway crossing with closed gates where I had to stop and I took that picture of local architecture at that place.
BACKYARD - CLEAN OR DIRTY?
Both, depends on where you go.
Main streets, tourist, shopping and business districts/areas, all hotels (3, 4-star), restaurants, pubs (including toilets) were clean, sometimes (hotels esp.) very clean, sterile :-).
Off the beaten path backstreets, backyards in the old town were secret, sometimes amazing but... not so clean. Soviet style residential area full of huge apartment buildings I drove through was neglected, dirty, with "four legged", dirty and drunk locals close to open liquor store - real dark side of Vilnius. Skip it (for sure at night) unless you want to know how most of locals had to live (and still have to - yet!) in the most powerful state of ever lasting happiness that was the Soviet Union. Hmm... they looked quite different but worse in my opinion than so called inner cities I drove through (by mistake, Americans build too many roads :-) in Los Angeles, California, USA. Anyway, I am sure that less and less areas of Vilnius will stay at its dark side.
BACKSTREET AT THE OLD TOWN
It was quite easy to get lost in large old town of Vilnius unless you were not interested in its backstreets. But it's rather not warning. It was even nice to get lost there. Even the most detailed map of Vilnius I found and bought (1:8,000) didn't show all small, winding backstreets and backyards. So I entered a street with no name and came back to a main street and... again. On this backstreet on my picture (entrance through the gate at Didzioji gatve # 22) I found a monument of... Adam Mickiewicz (on the right), the greatest Polish poet and national bard of 19th century. Enjoy!
CIGARETTES - PRICES
Warning for non-smoking:
I found Vilnius not as strict about smoking as say California in the USA, never. In inexpensive restaurants/bars there weren't tables for non-smoking or even if they were not separated from those for smoking. In most expensive (upclass) restaurants surely there were separated rooms or floors smoke free.
Some bars/pubs in the old town were full of cigarette smoke. I didn't see any restaurant smoke free, are there any?
In less (always) and medium class (often) hotels there were no seperate rooms for non-smoking.
Warning for smoking:
There were no rooms for smoking guests vacant in my hotel (Crown Plaza) when I got there. So, it's possible not to find any room for smoking, in summer season esp., I suppose. Lucky me :-). Hmm... I still smoke :-( . I had to do it on hotel corridor (well, there was designated place with an airmchair).
Cigarettes were easy available in kiosks around the old town and they were less expencive in Lithuania than in western Europe. They costed (a pocket of 20) from 2.75 Lt (local) to 6.00 Lt. Marlboro costed 4.25 Lt in May 2004 (€ 1.28, US$1.53, 6.10 Polish zloty). Warning: cigarettes will be more and more expensive since Lithuania joined European Union on 1 May 2004.
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