Kaunas in 1968
Favorite thing: I was fortunate to visit Kaunas in July of 1968 when we had a tour around Soviet Pribaltica (Lithuania, Kaliningradskaya oblast', Latvia and Estonia) by our car.
Among my fondest memory (because of the photo which has been kept since that time) is St. Michael the Archangel's Church on the main pedestrian street. It was built between 1891 and 1895 when Kaunas was part of the Russian empire, in Neo-Byzantine style largely for the use of the Russian Orthodox garrison of Kaunas Fortress.
- Historical Travel
Favorite thing: Kaunas was always known from modern architecture. If we talk about style called "modern", it was used to build such structures from around 1920, as Kaunas was a capital of Lithuania when, and it was a will to make it more representative (Vilnius region was occupied by Poland).
In this photo we see the new building - office of Lithuanian National bank. It has a view of 1000 litas banknote from interwar times. This building was inscribed among the most interesting modern building in the World.
Town of culture and active people
Favorite thing: I like Kaunas of more Lithuanian spirit, more Gothic architecture, lot of interesting and worth to see museums and proactive cultural life of this beautiful place.
Fondest memory: Many nice people, smiling, talking, it seems they live an active lifes and, what is more, lot of wedings have been at Kaunas Town Hall and in some churches when I was there.
Somethink like procesion was going on in Kaunas I had took a photo of it.
Meet Grandpa the Wise
Favorite thing: When you are visiting Kaunas castle- take a turn and say "HELLO" to a wise old chap in red pyjamas. According to his authors- Zygimantas Amelynas and Tadas Simkus- this guy smokes his pipe in silence watching over bystanders, the ones that create, dance by the river, paint behind the containers, play music in pubs. Because there is a Master in everyone of us- wisdom, inspiration and creation. By the way, the old man is barefoot because he "lives" on a wall of former shoe factory......like old Lithuanian proverb says "shoemaker is always barefoot":)
And as long as Kaunas people are reputed to be very practical- useful advise for those who are visiting the town on weekend. Every Saturday morning Grandpa the Wise watches also over farmers market- so don't miss the opportunity to try some real home-made Lithuanian bread and white cheese:)
How to find the objects.
Favorite thing: I have put links to Google Map in my tips to make it easier to find the objects mentioned, when possible to get the right position. The links are marked in italics. Unfortunately Google Map isn't very precise and too often points to other buildings than the wanted one.
The post office.
Favorite thing: You will find the main post office at Laisves aleja 102, a huge concrete building.
Kaunas In Your Pocket: highly recommended!
Favorite thing: I have HORSCHECK to thank for introducing me to the 'In Your Pocket' series of tour guides, which we first had the opportunity to 'road test' in Tallinn (when the hotel we stayed in provided a copy of Tallinn In Your Pocket in each room).
For my money, it's a much more useful travel guide than the Lonely Planet or Rough Guides that we tend to use when we travel. In many ways, it's an unfair comparison, as the 'In Your Pocket' series focus on a single city, and are updated every couple of months, so, as you would expect, it is more current - particularly on events - and can provide information on a wider range of attractions than a regional guide which is only updated every couple of years. Also, you do have to have identified the city (rather than just the country) that you want to visit before the In Your Pocket guides come into their own, so I would suggest using a conventional tour guide for your initial planning and then supplementing this with the more local insight these publications offer.
For me, the strength of this guide is that it is written by English-speaking writers who are resident in the city. This means that the descriptions are livelier than often awkwardly phrased tourist material which is clearly translated from another language. I also thought that the mix of attractions and events listed was varied and would appeal to a range of interests and ages.
At present, the In Your Pocket series tends to focus on cities in Central and Eastern Europe, although new titles are continually being added.
For the Kaunas guide, follow this link: http://www.inyourpocket.com/lithuania/kaunas
Favorite thing: Kaunas... built at the conflience of the two largest Lithuanian rivers, the Nemunas and the Neris, it's the second-largest city in Lithuania.. With its nearly half million inhabitants and its prestigious universities, I thought it was be a very vibrant city...
Fondest memory: Kaunas... maybe it was the grey skies, maybe it was because I was expecting something else... but the city centre didn't charm me... I saw many wonderful churches and very little else... in particular, at night (and in April) I found it dead. No people around, very few places to hand out - and this despite Laisvės alėja, one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe.
Atsiprasau, kur yra tual etas?'
Favorite thing: For those who believe the true measure of civilisation is the condition of public toilets (you know who you are) rest assured Kaunas is likely to meet with your approval. There are facilities adjacent to the Town Hall Square usefully located next door to the Tourist Information Office. For a small fee a slightly fearsome woman will let you use them. Please note that payment does not buy her soul and service with a smile is unlikely to be forthcoming.
Kaunas at night
Favorite thing: Some buildings and bridges are beautifully illuminated at night.
I especially liked the blue and red illumination of the Aleksoto bridge (Aleksoto tiltas) which spans the river Nemunas just south of Kaunas' city centre.
Other buildings well worth a visit at night are the Church of St. Gertrude and the red brick Vytautas Church
- Budget Travel
Statues of Kaunas
Favorite thing: When wandering around Kaunas you will discover quite a few statues.
After Lithuania's independence in 1990 all communist related statues have been moved to Grutas Park which is a sort of sculpture park for tourists.
Information about the Monument to Vytautas the Great and the Monument to Steponas Darius and Stasys Girenas can be found in seperate tips.
Other important statues include the following ones:
The naked figure of A Man is the work of sculptor Petras Mazuras and has been erected in 1991. It can be found outside the Mykolas Zilinskas Art Museum.
The Monument to Antanas Smetona was installed in 1996 and is located near Vilniaus gatve 33. He was the first President of Lithuania (1919-1920).
The Monument to Motiejus Valancius can be found near the Church of the Holy Trinity. He was a well known bishop and died in 1875 in Kaunas.
- Budget Travel
Confluence of Nemunas and Neris
Favorite thing: Kaunas is situated at the confluence of Lithuania's two longest rivers: the Nemunas and the Neris.
Both rivers arise in Belarus and in Kaunas the Neris becomes a tributary of the Nemunas river. The Nemunas flows into the Curonian lagoon and then into the Baltic Sea.
The region where the two rivers meet is said to be the point where Kaunas originated in the 14th century.
- Budget Travel
Do you want to develop your pics?
Favorite thing: If you want to develop your pictures in Kaunas, no worries, look for world known, photo labs like Kodak or Fuji (on my picture at Town Hall Square 1; Rotuses aikste 1). There were a few photo labs located at Laisves aleja as well (including 1 hour service).
Keep in mind that developing pictures both from classical camera films and from digital sources was a little bit more expensive in Kaunas than in Poland or, say Berlin (in 2004).
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Internet access in the OLD TOWN
Favorite thing: The biggest and friendliest one in town. So while keeping in touch with the buddies back home youcan also eat dainty cakes and drink beer and other light refreshments. Open 24 hours.
Address: Vilniaus 24
Safety and wrong prejudices
Favorite thing: I found centre/downtown of Kaunas a safe place both at daytime and at night although maybe I was too short there to catch more accurate opinion. There were not many police seen in Kaunas but I felt there as safe as in any other European capital.
Well, I had wrong prejudicies on low personal safety in Kaunas. That's why I, at least at first, was more careful: I avoided dark backstreets at night, areas around bus and railway stations, I watched my valuables all the time etc. Well, I would be scared to enter alone districts full of huge, Soviet style apartments buildings esp. at night. Coming back to my hotel just before midnight on Friday I walked main and good lighted street - Vilniaus gatve. I felt safe although there were almost no pedastrians. Hmm... I saw one midium-age drunk man walking zig-zag with injured (he probably fell before), covered by blood, face which was unpleasant but not dangerous in any way.
Forget about car thefts but...
I was warned many times not to travel to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia by my car because of high risk of car thefts (exactly like many visitors are warned to drive to my country, Poland). Haha, I do NOT believe in it although I don't know any official police statistics. Maybe it could happen in the past... maybe if I drive top class Mercedes car.
Well, there was something wrong about car alarms in Kaunas and generally in all Baltic states. I could hear their loud alarms many times although nothing bad happened to the cars. Low quality of alarms or what?
I drove quite new, small (but enough for two) Toyota Yaris (similar to American ECHO) which was equipped in some good (top secret :-) alarms and insuranced against thefts. And... I didn't wash my car during my trip haha. In Kaunas I parked on unguarded paid parking lots including unguarded parking lot of my hotel at night.
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