Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Some images from Lithuania

These are some of the pictures that Richard took in Lithuania. I haven't downloaded mine yet.

Trakai Castle, about 30 km outside of Vilnius. It's been restored, sometime in the 50's, but it's still really lovely and evocative. It helped that we had a really great tour guide. This trip to Trakai was actually one of the best tours I have ever taken, due almost solely to our very pleasant and knowledgeable tour guide, Eve. The town of Trakai is also really interesting. It is the last remaining home of some cultures that are dying out. Only 200 Karaim remain. I also did not know that there are still Tartars in Lithuania. Cool.

Rich put me in the box for bad behavior. We were the first ones to do this, using the box, then after we did it people lined up to get in after us. People are such sheep. Note my freakishly long hands.

He also put me in the stocks. It is as uncomfortable as it looks, not least because I could not move my head and it was 90 degrees in the shade. Of course, with an attitude like mine, perhaps I belong there after all. (I think Rich wishes we had one in our house.) I ended up being a photo op for laughing Russians.

Cool shot of women cleaning up a church after a service. There are like 50 churches in a one or two square mile area in Old Town Vilnius. They all are very baroque and look alot like wedding cakes. One we went into was covered in little statues of naked babies (putti) , and reminded me of a King Cake from Mardi Gras. Fat pink naked flying babies everywhere. And we came across at least three churches that were being vigorously scrubbed by very serious ladies. I can verify the cleanliness of the churches there. They all smell like Pine Sol. The churches are all very much in use, which is refreshing after so many places where they tend to be more monuments to history than living breathing centers of culture and gathering.

This church is cool because it hasn't been restored yet. We happened upon it during a wedding; the lights going up the aisle are all little votive candles. The church was huge, airy, decrepit and yet somehow spiritually uplifting, maybe because it wasn't so covered in ornate crap. It felt well used and authentic. I really like things that haven't been restored and fixed up. I like to see the bones and the guts of a place and then put my imagination on it from there. This place really felt good. The Soviets used it for storage when Lithuania was under Soviet rule. Many beautiful churches met that fate.

Speaking of Soviet, when I download my pictures, I'll post some of a visit we made to a KGB prison/museum. THAT was freaky, and sad too. I've always been fascinated with the cloak and dagger KGB era. and to see a prison in situ was a treat, if also a bit of a brutal and eye opening experience. So many lives ruined for a failed political experiment.

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