Eastern and Central Europe (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

(Ben Green) #1


Shopping & Entertainment

Souvenirs and gifts in Lithuania usually consist of
traditional arts and handi crafts made from locally
available materials such as amber, ceramics and wood.
The shops and stalls of the Old Towns in the country’s
larger cities, as well as in the various resorts, are
flooded with offerings of this kind. A variety of enter-
tainment is on offer in Lithuania, although, outside
Vilnius the options tend to be limited. Baroque and
chamber music concerts are regularly performed in
churches throughout the country.


The most extraordinary market
in Lithuania is Gariūnai,
located next to Vilnius’s tower-
ing water-heating facility. It
sells everything from inexpen-
sive clothes, shoes, toys,
toiletries and cosmetics to
food, gadgets and even cars.
At the southern edge of the
Old Town, near the bus and
train stations, is Halės Market,
which mostly stocks fresh
fruit and vegetables, cheese,
meat and cakes.


Vilnius offers an astonishing
range of imaginative gift items
in small art galleries such as
Rūtos Galerija. Here quirky
paintings, colourful plates
designed with old photo-
graphs, vases with intricate
patterns and deco rative curios
cover the gallery space. The
Artists’ Union Exhibition Hall
has original artwork, hand-
decorated cards and a fine
range of Lithuanian and inter-
national art books, as well
as works of the country’s
foremost sculptors, on
display. The bohemian district
of Užupis has a surfeit of art
galleries, among which
Užupio Galerija, selling metal
and enamel pieces, is the
most interesting.


Lithuanian craftsmen make
all manner of objects out of
wood; from handcarved spat-
ulas and spoons to grotesque
masks of devils and witches.
A popular religious memento
is the crucifix, which is com-
monly made out of wood.
For the musically inclined,
handcarved musical instru-
ments, such as the alluring
Lithuanian kanklės, or zither,
make ideal gifts.
The most original items of
clothing on offer are made
of flax. Shirts and blouses,
dresses and hand-cro cheted
hats are all widely available.

The crafting of amber is an
indisputable part of Lithuania’s
heritage and one to which its
artisans apply great imagina-
tion. They fashion it into a
wide range of objects, such as
jewellery, lampshades and
writing materials.
Black ceramics in the form
of pots, jugs, cups and figures
are among the special ities of
the southern region of
Lithuania, and are available
throughout the country.
In Vilnius, traditional arts and
crafts are most easily found
along Pilies, Aušros Vartų and
Didžioji streets. Linen & Amber
Studio, a chain of gift shops,
is one of the best places to find
handi crafts made of flax and
amber. For those inter ested in
local textiles, a good desti-
nation is Aukso Avis. Sauluva
stocks a reli able assort ment of
Lithuanian hand icraft items
made of wood, ceramic,
amber and dried flowers.


Traditional foods of all kinds
are sold in Lithuanian shops,
including blynai (a thin
potato pancake with both
sweet and savoury fillings),
spurgos (dough nuts), smoked
and steamed cheeses and a
range of milk products.
Smoked meats are usually
sold as long, thick sausages
or bound into balls. Forest
berries and mushrooms can
make unusual gifts, but visi-
tors need customs clear ance
to carry them home. Some
super markets have cafés offer-
ing a tradi tional Lithuanian
meal of cepelinai (potato
dumplings) as well as kugelis
(baked potato pudding) and
vėdarai (potato sausage).
Local favourites, such as
starka (aged vodka), or trejos
devynerios (herbal panacea),
should not be missed. The
best of the many varieties of
degtinė (vodka) include
Lithuania’s excellent gold-
topped vodkas, while the
company Alita makes a
popular brand of brandy.
Švyturys Premium Pils and the
Švyturys Ekstra Draught are
both very fine bottled beers.


Most shops in city centres
open at 10am and stay open
until 7pm. Outside the city
centre, shops remain open
until 9pm or even 10pm. Food
shops and supermarkets that
are part of larger chains often
open at 8am and close late in
the evening. On Saturdays,
many shops open until 4pm,
and some in tourist areas and
larger towns and cities are
open on Sundays as well.


Though a little quieter than
other European capitals,
Vilnius has an abundance of
bars and clubs featuring a
variety of music genres and
both local and international
DJs. Gravity, located inside a
Soviet-era bomb shelter,
attracts the best DJs, while the
uproarious Bix is for heavy
metal fans. A little more cen-
tral are Paparazzi, popular for
its friendly atmosphere and
wide range of cocktails, and
Pabo Latino, specializing in
Latin beats. Žaltvykslė hosts a
number of live bands.
Club life is not limited to
the capital. Klaipėda has an
increasingly lively nightlife,
with crowds flocking to the
popular Pabo Latino. Some of
the new bars in the Old Town
even have casinos and restau-
rants. Kaunas has a mix of
classy bars such as Skliautai
in the Old Town and the hip
and swing ing club Siena,
frequented by the young.
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