Friday, April 30, 2004
History, beauty lure visitors to Lithuania
By Gary Lee and Andrea Sachs
THE WASHINGTON POST
Where: Northern Europe, bordering Latvia, Belarus, Poland and Russia.
Why go: The Old Town of Vilnius, the capital city, is one of Europe's most attractive town centers. With its medley of architectural styles (Gothic to classical), cobblestone streets and brown-brick facades, it offers a near-perfect glimpse into the past. Kaunas, the country's second-largest city, is an alluring enclave of well-preserved buildings dating from the 14th century.
Don't Miss: the intriguing cultural attractions of Vilnius, such as the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum, which documents the extermination of the city's vibrant Jewish community during WWII; the KGB Museum, where thousands of Lithuanians were interrogated and tortured during the Soviet occupation; and Paneriai, a small museum with a memorial to WWII victims outside the capital in a beautiful forest; the stebuklas tile between the Vilnius cathedral and bell tower, which marks the beginning of a human chain that some 2 million Baltic citizens formed between Vilnius and Tallinn in 1989 to protest the Soviet occupation; the Hill of Crosses, near Siauliai, blanketed in thousands of crosses; Gruto Parkas, near Druskinin-kai, an outdoor museum of notorious Soviet political figures; the sea resort of Palanga and its Amber Museum, with thousands of examples of "Baltic Gold"; the Hill of Witches in Juodkrante, a site of wooden sculptures based on legends and folk tales.
Sample Packages: Visit Lithuania has a host of land-only packages that range from a weekend in Vilnius to a week traveling from the city to a sea resort.
The "Lithuanian Experience," a 10-day escorted tour, includes the Dzukija National Park, a drive along Panemune castle road and a climb up the Hill of Witches. The price of $1,460 includes accommodations, some meals, transfers, tours and more. Departures are May 28, June 18, July 2, Aug. 6 and Sept. 10.