I saw a lot of gifts and souvenirs referred to basketball sold in Trakai and generally in Lithuania. There were T-shirts with Lithuanian basketball players, with beer mug and inscription: "Vilnius = friends forever".
Well, my recommendation, is to get to know more about Lithuanian basketball (follow the link below), before you go to Lithuania. Unfortunately, I was ignorant on that subject when I was talking with my young friends in Vilnius :-(. They were proud of great succeses of Lithuanian basketball. I think that basketball was very good topic to start talking with esp. young locals. I could say: beer + basketball = friendship in Lithuania.
Kinesa - Karaims, a minority religious group, worships here. The origin of the minority group seems to open to different interpretations, so I recommend viewers of this tip to open "Karaims in Trakai in Lithuania" site.
Direction: go on the main road 2-3 minutes from Trakai castle toward the city center. on your right side: Address: Karaimu 30.
Take care with this one it has a nasty habit or burning you as you attempt to eat it. A Zeppelin shape pastry filled with hot meat.# and very tasty i must admit.
For the ultimate Lithuanian experience enjoy this little piece of heaven with a pint (or litre here) of a local beer. Both are best enjoyed by taking in the views of the castle from the lake shore and people spotting.
The first karaite families were settled in Trakai in the XIV Century by the Gran Duke Vitautas.They came from Crimea and they brought with them their religion(jewish),their tartar (turkish) accent and customs.Nowadays they are only a few.
I ate an exotic food made in Trakai for the karaites.It is called "kibinai",a kind of cake with meat and baken in the oven
Walking around Trakai I didn't meet any local walking a dog. Instead, I could see dogs imprisoned in usually relatively small, fenced areas (doggy pens) with wooden kennel/doghouse put inside. This German sheppard, on my picture, looked rather aggresive and was barking loudly when any-one was passing by.
They used to built more and more bars and restaurants along southern shore of Galve lake. As for now, they didn't destroy unique lanscape of that area, maybe a little bit. But you can taste delicious Lithuanian beer on a water with a pretty view over Galve lake and a castle on an island.
Sooner or later this very touristy area maybe full of similar restaurants, over-crowded and probably over-priced. But not yet... in 2004 :-).
There was a group of wooden houses located along Karaimu gatve (street) close to a bridge to a castle island - one of them on my picture. Map here. They were described as traditional Karaims' houses. Karaimes were people of Turkish origin brought to Trakai from Crimea at the end of the 14th century.
Well, the houses didn't look very old. Their roofs mostly of corrugated iron sheets and their chimneys made of white small bricks were not authentic. They were painted mostly in green or yellow/orange, never in blue and they didn't look different than typical Lithuanian houses. Hmm... the most beautiful wooden houses I found in Lithuania were not in Trakai but in Kedainiai.
Excuse, it's more Lithuania than Trakai local custom tip. I will transfer it to my Lithuania page soon.
Whenever you look for souvenirs/gifts from Lithuania look for a sign "SUVENYRAI", like on my picture. Well, they usually added English explanation (souvenirs shop) especially in touristy places like Trakai but is less visited destinations not always. Suvenyrai is in Lithuanian language plural for souvenir. Nouns in plural end with "ai" in Lithuanian as I noticed.
For more basic words in Lithuanian including their pronunciation (sound files to download) click here, please and select Lithuanian language.
They used to put typical Lithuanian, wooden statues, like on my picture, in front of many touristy stores/shops in Trakai. Well, you can buy one if you have large car :-). Typical Lithuanian wooden statue was high and rather thin. Locals were not always that high and thin, though :-).
During my 2-3 hours visit to Trakai island castle I met two just married couples although it was business day. They, together with numerous family members and guests, took family pictures with the castle in the background. Does the visit of honeymooners to Trakai castle guarantee them happy life?
There was this well, on my picture, in the western wing of the forecast. There were many coins, instead of water on its bottom. Well, I was told that throwing a coin there guarantee happiness. Local belief or a tourist trap? We will see... we left there two coins, Polish coins :-).
There were many hunting trophies displayed in the Trakai Castle Museum, in the Western Casemates of the Castle to be more exact. There were foxes, deers, bears, wild boars and smaller mammals. Add this... lion, on my picture. Did they hunt it in forests around Trakai? Well, surely not :-). Lion was and still is a symbol of strong power and that's why rulers of the castle bought or were given it, I suppose.
Many doors, stairs and passages (walks and wooden galleries) in the Trakai castle are quite narrow. That's why authorities of the museum ordered one-way traffic for visitors. Follow these signs, on my picture. This way you will not skip anything and believe me, stairs in the castle tower were really too narrow for two-way traffic :-).
There was a public toilet (WC/restroom) in the northwestern corner of a yard of Trakai forecastle. Hmm... this woman on my picture guarded the toilet. So, better not to forget to pay for using it. These toilet-women were common in my country, Poland, say, 10 years ago, but luckily they didn't survive. Well, there are a few maybe - not so easy to find nowadays.
When I left a yard of the Palace (main, residential part of the Trakai castle) I found this black box, on my picture. They asked to put money inside the box in 4 languages: English, Polish, Russian and Lithuanian. It was aid for reviving fellowship of knights. My recommendation is to put there small coin :-). Maybe they will organize some funny knight's festivals there. Thank you.