Vilnius, Lithuania

Of the time I’ve spent in various places so far, Vilnius was my shortest visit. If I didn’t have a series of hostel and bus tickets already booked, I would have stayed for another day because it was really terrific.

At the hostel, I met a trio of Australian women (Coxie, Lawless, and Franie), who are living in the UK and were spending a bit of time travelling around Eastern Europe. We spend a couple of evenings out on the beers, where the Aussies took this piss out of this American guy we met.

The next day, I did a load of laundry, which I hung to dry in the warm Lithuanian sun. While things were drying, I was enticed by soft organ and choral music from the church next door. I ran around the building to hear with greater fidelity, and was invited into a Lithuanian church service where a series of tiny old ladies were singing. You’d never know the beautiful voices were coming from such tiny women. Talk about vocal powerhouses. Stumbling upon that service, in spite of not understanding a word of the sermon or hymns, was one of the most wonderful accidents of my trip.

After the choral surprise, I went running along the banks of the river that bisects the city. There were many people out have a picnic and fishing, which was nice to see. As I rounded the corner on my way back to the hostel, I stumbled upon a hip-hop circle. I stood and watched for about 45 minutes, and saw some really great dancers including a couple of young women who were incredible poppers. I then ran back to the hostel to grab my camera to get a couple of snaps, which you can see in the image gallery.

When I returned, the dancing was still underway and had sort of evolved into a bit of a dance competition – super fun to watch. On the outside, I bumped into a polyglot named Mario, who was filming the event as part of a movie called Life on the Streets, a trailer of which you can see on YouTube. Incredibly, the movie includes footage shot inside the Favelas surrounding Rio de Janeiro. Risky, but also fascinating.

During our conversation, he also told me about a Lindy Hop event that was taking place that evening. I enjoy Big Band music and swing dancing, so I figured I would check it out. I didn’t find it, but just when I was about to return to my hostel, a large mob of people passed me, following a bicycle adorned with enormous speakers that were blasting Cab Calloway. I knew I’d stumbled across the Lindy Crew. I followed the group to a series of parks where impromptu dance broke out. Several kilometres later, we reached a hall where the dance would continue. Since it was late and I had an early bus trip to Poland the next day, I left them to dance and headed home.