There are a number of underpasses in Kaunas, and no lifts that I could see. There's even one as you enter the old town. It's not easy to get through them with a pram. The pavements range from perfectly smooth, along Laisves avenue, to the almost unnavigable cobbled streets around the old town, to the pot hole minefields on some of the main streets outside.
The train station had no lift, but I didn't need it as the platform dropped me off at the exit, but there was a huge underpass to negotiate once outside. The airport is just as bad. They actually have lifts, but they have to be operated by members of staff. The one upstairs was no problem as the check-in staff let us through. Once upstairs there was nobody to help us back down again, and a very narrow staircase to navigate. Thankfully a shop owner helped us out.
Seems they do the same trick on customers, draining your credit card account after returning the car. In my case they charged me 590 LT for damage to the bumper that I didn't cause.
I returned the car Friday afternoon, September 20. Nobody was present at the office. I had to return the keys to the reception of a nearby hotel.
A month later I saw that my account had been charged with extra money. I hadn't heard from Fortuna and wrote to them to get a clarification. No reply. Then I called them and they said they had sent an email about the damage. I had bought an extra insurance, but I'm not sure what it covered. I have reported the case to my insurance company and we'll see how it turns out. When I tried to go to their webpage today (November 15), http://www.rentacar.lt/, their server was down. Fishy!
What I learned from this experience is this: cheap easily gets expensive. And never return a car without having it checked and signed.
Everywhere you will read that Kaunas is the crime capital of Lithuania. I think this is a rumour put about by local rivals living in nearby Vilnius. Certainly it seems based on some truth: After the fall of the USSR the city seems to have become a hotbed of mafia crime. If that is still the case today, that kind of crime doesn't appear to impact the city's day to day life. It felt to me completely calm and safe, and not in the least bit threatening.
I found this water level meter on a wall of Vatautas church located by Nemunas river. I was surpriced to see it a few meters above river water level. Did it mean that water reach so high level and flooded Kaunas in the past?
Yes, Kaunas was devastated by floods many times. The highest ever water level - 748 cm (find it on my picture) was in 1946.
But the risk of floods in Kaunas is minimal since construction of Kaunas Hydroelectric Power plant with Kaunas Sea (Kauno Marios) in 1959.
Be careful when walking around in winter - everything in Lithuania is slippery. Even in the capital, Vilnius, I fell once because people do not put salt on the ground. This is also the case in Kaunas!
Kaunas airport is small but absolutely fine.
However, they clearly have real problems dealing with several full flights departing at or around the same time.
I arrived (Ryanair flight) well before check-in opened, queued for 20 minutes or so (fair enough) and then spent another hour in the queue for security/passport control. There was only one person checking boarding passes. I asked her if it was always like this and she said 'Yes, the flights are full'. :-(
Only two security scanners (take the e.g. charger wires out of your bags and put them separately) but one closed as I arrived, even though the queue behind me was still enormous.
Passport control was quick though.
I literally had 10 minutes in the departure area before my flight was called. Just time to get some vodka from the tiny shop, and not even enough time to spend my remaining litas (or find somewhere to donate them to charity). Everyone did catch the flight (we waited for a good 20 minutes on the tarmac..I suspect Ryanair are used to how this airport operates!) but those who arrived later than me looked extremely harassed.
Not good organisation, I'm afraid. I was not impressed. With Ryanair flights especially, one cannot risk being late at the gate.
So do allow ample time to get to the airport, arrive well before check-in and go straight upstairs to the check-in desks rather than hang around outside. Be there for when they open 2 hours beforehand...you'll probably use up 1.5 hours of that time in a queue!
If you are female and find yourself needing the toilet at Kaunas bus station, be aware that they are the 'squat' type.
They are clearly signed from the ticket office.
The toilets are clean enough (although a little whiffy) but it sometimes takes a while to get the hang of using squat toilets successfully. Better to be forewarned!
Kaunese inhabitants are incredibly lazy and apathic that they don't cycle themselves nor fight about their rights to have cycleways around the town. Cycling here is incredibly unpopular even though Kaunas mayor uses his bicycle to go to work in the town to promote this kind of transportation (I've never seen him cycling though).
Guess, Kaunas municipality decided to follow "European standard" and make some cycleaway along the main street - Freedom Avenue (Laisves aleja).
One problem is that Lithuanians are so much not used to the cycling ethics that people walk on the cycleway and cyclers have to cycle in zigzags sometimes hitting people and even injuring them. Another problem is that cyclers themselves are not very careful drivers and often cycle precariously, especially teenagers. The third and the most ridiculous problem comes from the municipality - the public cleaning company just simply puts snow on the cycleway..
You should be fit to do shopping there or know exactly what you want; otherwise you can get tired trying to reach your destination, for example grocery shop. May be is would be good to know that it is located at the opposite end of mall from the bus stop. Believe me there is some distance to walk. Sure this is no problem if you come with the car, if by bus, - then the good news is that cafes and restaurants are located in the middle, so if you get tired just stay there.
This shopping mall is the last stop for many buses and microbuses, you just should look for the word “Mega” on the bus and ask for direction ( Mega? – the answer should be “Taip” )
This is a city with a lot of poor people, and that is why there are much crime here.Dont go alone after dark and never go in dark alies! The best thing to do is to go in larger groups. They easily see that you are a tourist, and they know that you might have much money on you, So many many tourist get robbed here! It's not a nice excperience, so if you are careful you can avoid it.
Kaunas has the highest crimerate in Lithuania.So it's nothing to joke about.
There are two big rivers in Kaunas- Nemunas and Neris.And though they are so much singed and written about in lithuanian songs and poetry, unfortunately they are not so clean as they were 50 years ago.You might see still some people swimming in it, but this issomething i would really really not recommand to do!
It’s up to you to punch your ticket once inside the vehicle, but if you are caught riding illegally (ticket inspection is a regular occurrence, being carried out by plain clothes controllers) you’re liable to a 20Lt on-the-spot fine.
Not every place is dangerous, but not every place is safe, and drunken foreigners make an easy mark. Watch out for overly friendly people, men walking in packs and all of your belongings. The pubs and clubs can be a lot of fun, but common sense is warranted here.
If you decide to go at the beach or just for a walk at the Kaunas Sea, you have to know, that at the end of summer and in the begining of autumn the water isn't the best there. It has a green colour and not very tasty smell;-)
Unfortunatelly here isn't very safe to walk in the late evening or in the night. Be always careful even in the busses where some thiefs 'works' in stealing your money from the bags.