Assuming there were no unexpected flight delays I arrived back in the US yesterday for a quick visit with my family. Because I'm probably sleepy and/or out eating a monstrous breakfast with family I've pre-scheduled this week's posts. So, instead of a post about the US, I've written a post about how awesome it is to live in Vilnius. Though I'll be the first to tell you that we had a rough transition when we first moved to Vilnius, it the city (and the country) has grown on us, and honestly, I really enjoy living here.
1) Affordability. Lithuania is an incredibly affordable country to live in or visit. Grocery stores and farmers markets have many affordable options and apartments often come furnished, which certainly helps to lower expenses that accrue from renting. In the Old Town you can expect to pay approximately 600 - 800 Euro for a one bedroom apartment. Additionally, cell phone plans (or pay as you go rates) are very cheap as is fast Wi-Fi (approximately 15 Euro per month for internet and 10 Euro every few months for a pay as you go cell phone)
2) Restaurants. Vilnius has a HUGE selection of restaurants making eating out affordable. Expect to pay about 25 Euro for two for an average priced dinner out: including drinks, an appetizer, two entrees, and two desserts.
3) #CreativeLithuania. Over the past academic year I've made my own slippers in a felting class, visited an outdoor food festival numerous times, created my own (wonky-looking) pottery, visited a craft fair selling goods from local artists, among attending other cool events. If you dig deep you can find really fun classes or events to attend in Vilnius.
4) Craft Fairs. No matter where I am in the world, I always love a good craft fair. Lithuania has an incredible amount of traditional handicrafts that are still produced by small crafters around the country. Craft Fairs take place frequently in the summer, but my favorite is the St. Casmir Festival that takes place right before Easter.
5) Escaping to the Countryside or the Seaside. Lithuania is 40% forest, so it is no surprise that it is easy to get out of the city to explore the countryside. I love visiting Klaipeda and Trakai and I'm itching to visit Druskininki and Saulai.
6) Cafes and Coffee Culture. I find new cafes almost every time I pop out to explore Vilnius. No joke. Lithuanians take their coffee seriously, which means that you can find great coffee.
7) New Friends. What's a new place without making new friends? I'm very thankful for the friends I've made in Vilnius over the past two years!
8) The Spring and Summer. Somehow the gorgeous late spring and summer sun makes you forget the very long and cold winter. Cafes, restaurants, and outdoor events abound, making it even more glorious during the long summer days.
9) Kayaking. I'm a pretty big fan of water sports, especially kayaking and swimming. I don't know of any swimming spots in Vilnius, but it is easy and inexpensive to rent kayaks and head out for a day (or more) on the water.
10) Walkability. Vilnius is a very walkable city and the suburbs are easily reached by local buses (just be sure to always have a valid bus ticket or risk being caught by the bus police - no joke, they are real and serious). J and I don't have a car here, though sometimes it would be nice to have for trips outside of the city, it isn't necessary.
What do you love about your current home? Does Vilnius sound like a place you'd like to live?