Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Latvian doughnuts and Vilnius so far...

We left Riga yesterday morning bound for Vilnius (Lithuania) by bus (5 hours). Just before boarding the bus i stopped at a little bakery to grab something for breakfast with our last 60cents. The lady had 3 types of what appeared to be filled doughnuts on the counter. I was thinking the fillings may be chocolate, or creme or something nice like that. When i enquired, this disgruntled old lady informed me the first one was filled with meat (generic term for substance that could originate from any animal), the second was cabbage (? i know!) and the third was 'patatenne'. It was a tough choice but i opted for the third one - i hadn't a clue what it might be but surely it was better than either meat or cabbage? Well low and behold when i take a bite i discover it is filled with mashed potato! Needless to say it went straight to the bin. A gravy ring filled with champ - only in Latvia folks!

Since arriving in Vilnius yesterday we have been walking around the city. It's more spread out than Riga or Tallinn but again really beautiful. You can see that this city is a little bit behind on Riga or Estonia but with evidence of lots of construction, it is catching up very fast. We visited the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul today which has a breathtaking interior that would rival anything i have seen before, even in Rome.

I have been really surprised by the Baltic cities we have visited. I think i naively expected to see more poverty here than home, more litter, poorer quality food and generally 'less trendy' if you understand what i mean. On the contrary, i have seen more wealth in these cities than i would ever see in Belfast. For example i have seen more Mercs, BMW's, Bentley's, Hummers, and other top range vehicles than would be the norm at home. There is definitely less homeless people and begging here than in Belfast. Also there is less litter, excellent quality food and everyone is extremely fashion conscious. I understand i am only seeing city centre life and there are bound to be other areas that are less well off that would perhaps explain the influx of nationals into the UK and Ireland, from some of these countries.

Oh yeah, my reflection on Finland is that the boys love their skinny jeans. I think Niall was going to get a pair too but i talked him out of it!


Anonymous said...

Did you know Vilnius is going to be European City of Culture in 2009?

Jen said...

Sounds amazing Neil. I drove through Latvia once and made a lot of friends. Totally hear u on the boys in skinny jeans and the doughnuts filled with meat-what is that about? Bless ya on ur journey.