Travel Month - October 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

Personal + Travel


This is the first full month we've gone without any visitors, so slowly we are getting into a routine with Baby ISO. Though having my family and in-laws here was such a blast, it feels nice to settle into daily walks and local trips. We took a little day trip with friends to Trakai and Baby ISO did great on the train. We also went mushroom picking with one of J's colleagues and that was such a blast.

Around Vilnius we found a place for American-style pancakes (yum), had a game day, and visited an excellent Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso art exhibit. I had no idea that Dali did sculptures, but wow - they are SO cool! As the weather has been getting chillier I've also been making tons of soup. I finally made cold beet soup following a friend's recipe - so check that off the bucket list!

If you caught last week's post you saw that we are on our first family road trip to the Lithuanian shore. I'm so happy to be seeing more of this beautiful country and taking advantage of the last bits of reasonably nice fall weather!






Blog


Being on maternity leave means that I'm usually home at lunchtime and can attend the #ANZ Twitter chat. I've attended a few other Twitter chats before and really just enjoy connecting with other travelers and bloggers around the globe. Talk about increasing my list of places that I'd love to visit someday! 

I recently published some articles on Pink Pangea from my time in China. So far I've written 6 Tips for Women Working in Rural China and an article called Taking in a Stray. Stay tuned for a couple of articles about  Lithuania. :)


This month also saw the second in the series, Traveling Parents' Forum, and focused on traveling while pregnant. I'm thrilled to be working with some traveling mothers and learning about traveling with a baby myself. Hopefully I will have a bit of helpful advice for November's post about traveling on public transportation and road trips with children.




Looking Forward To


I'm really looking forward to the Creative Lithuanian post for this month. These are my favorite posts to research, photograph, and write and November's post is really special. I've even chatted with the founder here in Vilnius and am excited to share her words. For a sneak peak: we are talking an awesome community builder surrounding books. Stop by on November 13 to read more :)

On the travel front, we booked a sneaky little Thanksgiving trip to Frankfurt. We accidentally purchased tickets to the other 'Frankfurt' airport - in quotes because it is nearly 2 hours from Frankfurt, so that should be an interesting feat in traveling with a young one. I'll let you know how it goes. If you have any tips for visiting Frankfurt I'd love to hear them. So far I'm thinking a walking tour and a visit to the Museum of Modern Art (Baby ISO doesn't seem to mind as long as we stay moving!). 

I'm also hoping that J and I will have our first date sans baby. I'm thinking about trying a new restaurant. We have quite a few on our list!


Delicious cookies from the Italian Bakery in Vilnius :)


How was your month? What are your plans for November? Do you have any tips for Frankfurt?

A Sunny Saturday at the Botanical Garden

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


One of my favorite ways to spend a day outdoors is in a botanical garden - especially when 'winter is coming.' On a particularly beautiful fall Saturday I finally made it out to the main section of the Vilnius University Botanical Garden! It was just what this botany nerd needed on a sunny, fall Saturday. After visiting the Vingis Park section of the Botanical Garden years ago I was a bit skeptical about how well maintained this main section of the botanical garden would be. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised - just look at the photos below to see how beautiful it is!

When we visited, the dahlia gardens were in full bloom and I was impressed with the varieties included. Just look at those yellow beauties! Most people probably wouldn't expect it, but visiting botanical gardens in the fall is a great time to see late flowering plants while beating the crowds (and the heat). Now I just need to visit the Botanical Garden in mid-spring to see rhododendron flowering season and smell the lilac flowers in the gorgeous hill of lilac varieties. Baby ISO will likely be much more mobile come spring, so perhaps we'll be chasing him through the flowers!












*All of the photos in today's post are by my lovely other half, J. Thanks!


What do you like to do on sunny, fall afternoons?

St Peter and Paul's Church

Monday, October 26, 2015

St Peter and Paul's Church in Vilnius, Lithuania


St. Peter and Paul's Church in Vilnius, Lithuania is a Catholic Church and though it is outside of the Old Town, is a church that tourists frequently visit. While my family was visiting we decided to enjoy the nice fall weather and take a stroll to the church, which is located in the Antakalnis neighborhood. The exterior of the church is similar to other churches around Vilnius, but the interior is what makes it special. St. Peter and Paul's Church was built from 1668 - 1674, but the intricate interior took many more years to complete. The interior is completely white and covered with approximately 2000 stucco statues of historical religious figures.



The baroque interior of St. Peter and Paul's Church in Vilnius, Lithuania.





Have you been to St. Peter and Paul's Church in Vilnius?

Surviving Winter in Lithuania

Friday, October 23, 2015



It has gotten COLD in Vilnius and in the words of Jon Snow "winter is coming." Last week I had to break down and turn on our heat. I also had to pick up one of those ridiculous looking snow outfits for Baby ISO because I won't give up our daily walks.

Lithuania is pretty cold and dark in the winter. The cold is reasonably tolerable but staying dark until about 9 am and getting dark around 3:30 pm really can get to you - at least it gets to me. Especially when there are multiple could days in a row of clouds and no sun. Last winter I remember solid weeks of clouds - ick. It can be a challenge. I've survived two winters and am headed into my third, so I feel prepared to share my tips to make it bearable and even enjoyable.

1) Get out the house. Go out for dinner, visit a cafe, hang out with friends. Cold, snowy days make me want to stay inside, but the best thing I can do is bundle up and get out. This is especially true if you work from home or on maternity leave like I am!

2) Think warm. Have the appropriate clothes to be prepared for the cold, especially if you go everywhere on foot like I do, which is why I love those Sperry Topsider winter boots (number 5). I have a similar pair from a few years ago and they've held up great! Right now I'm lusting after a new winter hat like the one from Zara below (to fulfill my desire to dress like Steve Zissou).



1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (I made this image using Polyvore. These are not affiliate links, they are just things I like.)

3) Creative Lithuania. I love getting out and finding the creative side of my adopted city. Last winter J and I took pottery classes and I learned that I'm terrible at pottery. This winter I'm thinking about baby yoga or mommy and me swimming class. I also wouldn't mind finding a glass blowing class, but perhaps that will have to wait until baby in search of is older!



4) Get away. If all else fails, go somewhere warm and sunny for vacation. Last year, J and I went to Paris. It wasn't so sunny or warm, but it was beautiful and of course helped to break up the cold and dark of Lithuanian winters. For this year's February vacation I'm dreaming of Portugal. Let's see if that happens!

5) Think cozy. Not so sure how much this will be happening with a small baby around, but normally I love to light a candle, drink a hot beverage, cuddle into a warm blanket, and read a book or catch up on blogs.



How do you stay happy in the winter?

Preparing for a Road Trip through Lithuania

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A boardwalk leading to the Baltic Sea, Lithuania.


I'm stopping by quickly today to share some resources I've been using for preparing for our upcoming family road trip. This Sunday J, Baby in search of, and I are off on a road trip through Lithuania! We'll be visiting Siauliai (the fourth largest city in Lithuania), Klaipeda (on the Curonian Lagoon), and a few places on the Curonian Spit. We'll also probably check out Palanga and perhaps stop along the way. I'm so looking forward to experiencing some of the things on my Lithuanian Bucket List - especially swimming in the Baltic Sea - though I know I'm going to freeze my butt off!

I've actually found it a bit tricky to find resources to plan our trip through Lithuania, though the TrueLithuania website has a wealth of information on history and some general background. I'll certainly be reporting back with more to do, see, and where to eat when we get back!

The Say Labas Show Blog - They have a post about the Black Ghost statue in Klaipeda. I didn't see it (or know about it) during my last trip to Klaipeda, so I'm looking forward to it.

The TrueLithuania website has a tons of information about Klaipeda, Siauliai, and elsewhere in Lithuania. I'm using this site to get a general sense of each place we visit.

As usual, I checked In Your Pocket to read a bit about the cafe and restaurant scene. Now, I couldn't find anything for Siauliai, which I'm thinking is our lunch stop, but did find some awesome cafes for Klaipeda. I'm looking to visit Musangas Cafe to try Luwak Coffee and Kavos Architektai.

Do you have any tips for our trip?

Traveling Parents' Forum - Traveling While Pregnant

Monday, October 19, 2015




Welcome to the second session of the Traveling Parents' Forum! I'm so happy to be chatting about traveling while pregnant with Frankie, Amy, and Roshan. Throughout the series we'll be sharing our tips, favorite products, and looking to each other for advice to make traveling with little ones easier. If you have any questions or would like to share your experience please write it in the comments below! Also, if you have written a post(s) on a similar topic feel free to add the link in the comments. You can also join our group Pinterest board to post your own articles or ones you've found helpful. Just follow our Pinterest accounts and message me to add you to the board. The more information we have the better we can travel - at least that's what I think!


We'll be chatting about a new topic on the third Monday of every month. Today's topic is 'Can you travel while pregnant or with a baby?'

October 19: Traveling while pregnant 
November 23: Road trips and public transportation with a baby/child
December 21: Flying with a baby/child
January 18: Child jet lag
February 22: Items to make travel easier
March 21: Traveling without your child
April 18: Moving/living abroad with your child





Amy






I travelled a lot during my first and second trimesters. In just 8 weeks alone I took 7 long haul flights. We travelled from Africa, to the Middle East, Europe and the United States so it's safe to say I covered a lot of ground. 

Flying isn't easiest at the best of times, but when you're pregnant it can be extra challenging. If you've got a flight to take whilst pregnant I can recommend the following tips for making your flight more bearable. Make sure you book an aisle seat. Even better, get one next to the toilet if you can choose. It might not be your first choice, but trust me when that little critter is dancing on your bladder you don't want to climb over a sleeping stranger. Neither do you want to find yourself at the back of a long line when nature calls. This might also come in handy if you're suffering from morning sickness! An aisle seat gives the added benefit of allowing you to easily get up to stretch your legs (DVT is an even bigger risk for you now, pregnant lady!), but makes it easier to get into your seat as that bump grows! Another good tip is to pre-order the fruit plate for your in flight meal. This pretty much guarantees you won't be presented with foods from the pregnancy no-no list, while having the added bonus of being less likely to induce nausea. It's also a great way to hydrated which you're going to need to be extra careful about during the flight. Normally, I'd read during a flight, but when pregnant I kept my book in my carry on and caught some shut-eye. Trust me, you're not getting enough sleep as it is, so don't waste this wonderful opportunity to do nothing but rest. If you're feeling sick still, save your caffeine ration for an cola when the stewards come round. It's a quick and easy way to soothe a sick tummy when you've got no other options available. Make sure you have crackers in your hand luggage too. They don't make for the best in flight cuisine, but they are perfect as a quick solution to rising feelings of nausea. They're also really handy in the event of delays. 

As for your actual trip, whether it's for business or pleasure, I would suggest you take it a little easier than you might normally. You might want to fit in as much sight-seeing as possible, but you'll only burn out if you do. Schedule rest stops during the day - a great way to make sure you try local food and experience must visit venues - and try to get to bed at a reasonable hour. We went to NYC at the end of my first trimester and the jet lag combined with pregnancy fatigue was pretty killer. I made sure I was in bed by 9pm every night so that we could really make the most of our days. That said, every woman experiences pregnancy differently so if you feel up to it don't feel you need to hold back and act like a delicate flower. I had a tough time throughout my entire pregnancy, so took full advantage of the perfect excuse to make travel a bit more laid back. More than anything though, these days are precious. Travelling whilst pregnant felt really special to me because it was frequently on my mind that the next time we visited a place we'd have our little one with us. So my biggest piece of advice is to savour those moments. 

Amy has a 15 month old and is joining us from London, UK. You can find more about her life in London onInstagram and Pinterest.

Frankie




I talked a lot about travelling while pregnant in last month's post as I have limited experience travelling with kids - my little one is still under 3 months - but I did do quite a bit of flying while I was pregnant and I was surprised by how tired it left me so my number one tip for pregnant ladies is picking sensible flight times so you're not knackered before you get on the flight because the chances are that you will be once you arrive. With this in mind, don't plan too much for your first day after arriving in your destination. The same goes for your return flight. I also did special antenatal yoga throughout my pregnancy and found the breathing and relaxation exercises I learned really came in handy when I was trying to sleep on a plane or just trying to chill out when my flight was delayed. My other tip is travel light! You'll be amazed how much harder it is to drag luggage around when you're pregnant, even in your first and second trimesters when you're not that big. 


Frankie has an infant and blogs about Amsterdam, travels, and writing on As the Bird Flies and Travelettes. Frankie is writing from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. You can find more from Frankie on her blogTwitterInstagram,Pinterest, and Facebook.


Roshan





In Australia, everyone goes on a Babymoon- which is a trip you take with your husband while you are pregnant before you have your baby. I went to Singapore and Malaysia for mine. Singapore would not be recommended as it was so hot, but Tioman Island was lovely as we stayed at a beach resort and I just swam weightlessly for a week.

It would be recommended that you take such a trip before your third trimester as you may feel a bit heavy and most international airlines require doctor sign off to fly at this time.


Roshan has a three year old and blogs about her travels at Roshan's Ramblings. Roshan is writing from Australia. You can find more from Roshan on her blogTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.



Elizabeth





When I was pregnant I traveled internationally probably once per month until 35 weeks at which point international flights were not allowed. During the first 1.5 trimesters I had terrible morning sickness (that lasted all day - what a misnomer!), so that really limited what I did while traveling. For example, I spent a week in January hanging out with my parents who were there for work. I felt so ill and tired that I hardly left the hotel and was only able to see the Colloseum and Roman Forum. For this trip (and all other trips) I really had to minimize what I wanted to see and do to a very limited list. Despite this, I wouldn't have chosen to stay home and stop traveling altogether. I'm so happy to have visited Budapest, Rome, Paris, Tallinn, Athens, and Connecticut.

My advice to anyone else traveling while pregnant is to do what feels most comfortable to you and to get travel approval from your doctor first. Personally, that meant either starting the wanders later in the morning or coming back our accommodations early so that I could rest more. I also preferred to stay in AirBnBs to hotels, because I could use the kitchen to prepare what I wanted to eat rather than always having to eat out. It also meant that if I woke up frequently in the night I wouldn't have to disturb J. My trips to Rome and Tallinn were both solo (though I met up with my people when I arrived), so I had to be sure that my luggage was light enough for me to carry easily. This was particularly important when I went to Tallinn as my back was starting to get very painful at that point. 

When traveling to Athens and Connecticut I was very obviously pregnant (past the point of 'did you just eat a big meal?') and found that I was allowed to skip the metal detectors (which I did throughout my pregnancy by just asking). Additionally, I was allowed to go through the priority lines when going through security. This may depend on the airport (or airlines?) but be sure to ask! Also, when traveling to and from Connecticut - because I was so far along in my pregnancy - I got a permission slip from my doctor saying that it was safe for me to travel to show the airlines if questioned. I never had to show this document, but I figured it was better to be on the safe side.

I have an infant and I write from Vilnius, Lithuania on In Search Of. You can find more on TwitterInstagram,Facebook, and Pinterest.


Follow Elizabeth @ In Search Of's board Traveling with Children on Pinterest.



Don't forget to stop by on November 23rd to talk about public transportation and road trips with little ones!



Join the conversation! Have you traveled while pregnant? What worked and didn't work or you? Do you have any questions?

Mushroom Picking

Friday, October 16, 2015





I have been dying to go mushroom picking since we first moved to Lithuania and I found out that foraging was a common weekend practice. Perfect for my nerdy ethnobotanist self! Lithuania is about 40% forested, which means that it is pretty easy to find a prime place to collect mushrooms, herbs, or berries. It's even possible just a few minutes outside of the capitol, Vilnius.

Two Sundays ago, one of J's colleagues offered to take us mushroom hunting in the afternoon. Yes! She is well versed in mushrooming as well as in edible plants, so it was such a treat for me to go out to explore and learn. Since moving to Vilnius we haven't had the chance to spend much time out in nature (except in city parks), so it also felt great to just go out into the woods and wander.

I was impressed by the diversity of mushroom species as well as the huge populations of mushrooms that were littering the forest floor half hidden by fallen leaves. It took a careful eye trained on the forest floor to find one of the edible brownish species that was hidden deep in the moss. Some of the mushrooms we saw were brown and plain, while others were red, purple, spotted, or blue. J's colleague went one step further and boiled some of the mushrooms we collected, so we could use them at our leisure. I'm thinking about chopping them up and adding them into a chicken pot pie. What do you think?

Lithuanian forest right outside of Vilnius
This forest is only about a 15 minute drive from the center of Vilnius

edible mushrooms with white gills from Vilnius, Lithuania
A few edible mushrooms

a forest frog

An edible mushroom hidden in moss
Hello there hidden mushroom

A blue, small mushroom in moss in Lithuania
Not an edible one

A dark red mushroom in moss in Lithuania
Love the color of this one!

Lithuanian forests

Gaultheria spp.

A mushroom with a very large cap in Lithuania

Puff ball mushrooms in Lithuania



Have you been mushrooming before? Would you go? Do you like to eat mushrooms?

Giving Birth Abroad

Monday, October 12, 2015




I generally don't talk about my personal life on here; however, I thought that sharing a bit of my experience giving birth abroad would perhaps help to prepare other mothers-to-be and perhaps take away some nerves. 

I was a bit nervous with the prospect of having a baby abroad, yet I really liked my gynecologist and had faith that she'd be great throughout. Also, there are tons of babies in Vilnius, so I figured that doctors had plenty of practice with delivery. (Obviously the amount of babies here clearly has to do with the skill level of the doctors...?)

My experience giving birth at the Baltic American Clinic was excellent. Now, I can't directly compare it with giving birth in the States, but here is what I experienced. At each doctor visit prior to giving birth I had an ultrasound. When I went into labor (well, when I was sure I was in labor) I headed straight to the clinic. In contrast to the US, the doctors here in Lithuania would rather you come right when you start contractions. While I was in labor my gynecologist was with me the whole time. With her was also the obstetrician, another gynecologist who happened to be on duty (and who I had previously met), an anesthesiologist, and towards the end, a pediatrician. After giving birth, my husband and I were allowed to stay in the clinic for ~72 hours, though we could have left earlier if we wanted. The food they served was delicious and wholesome. None of that nasty jello crap. Our last night they brought us a mini bottle of cava and two chocolates. Throughout our three days in the clinic after giving birth we had a midwife available 24 hours to help us in any way we needed, though I don't think we had the option for the baby to stay in a nursery had we wanted that. Everyone was incredibly helpful and kind throughout.



Get to know your doctor(s). If I didn't have confidence in my doctor I would have tried to find a new doctor. If I didn't like any of the doctors I would have wanted to give birth in the US. Luckily, my doctor was thorough.

Ask for a tour of the facilities. I didn't do this until pretty later on, but touring the facilities gave me a better picture of what was available. 

Don't feel silly about asking simple questions or for clarification. I asked a TON of questions. Though my doctor spoke English we occasionally had some miscommunications, so if I was unclear about something she said I'd rephrase my question and ask again. I felt a bit stupid asking my hoards of questions, but hey, it was my first time giving birth, so I figured that I was allowed to ask a million questions. (A question you may want to ask is if your husband/partner is allowed to be in the room when you give birth and if your husband/partner can stay in the hospital with you after giving birth. In China my friend's husband wasn't allowed in the room during the birth of his son.)

Don't expect to have the same care as your expecting friends at home. My friends in the US seem to have only had one or two ultrasounds throughout their pregnancy. As I said above, I had an ultrasound each time. I was also expected to head to the clinic when my contractions began.

Go with the flow. Things are going to be different than you expect sometimes. My doctor went on vacation pretty close to my due date. I should have taken my own advice here, but was pretty stressed out when I found out. Luckily she was back in time, but I should have not fretted so much over it. Go with it, but if you are concerned don't be afraid to ask and ask again! Your health and your baby's health is important!

Know what's available. Here in Lithuania working women who pay into social security are allowed three years of paid maternity leave (the amount paid decreases each year). Anytime during that three year span women are allowed to return to their company/institution, but may not have exactly the same job title, as they may have hired a replacement (even if the replacement is temporary). Pregnant women who have terrible morning sickness or a difficult pregnancy are also allowed to have doctors write them a note and to stay home from work. 








Please excuse the crappy photo quality. They were taken quickly with my phone, because... newborn. Also, if you have any questions or are a nervous mom-to-be feel free to send me an email.

Creative Lithuania: Vilnius Street Art Festival 2015

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sometimes living in Lithuania can be a challenge (oh those dark winter days!), so I wanted to focus on forgetting about the challenges and enjoying the positives. To do so, I've started a monthly post (the second Friday of each month) that features the more creative side of Lithuania. In previous posts I've written about Uzupis, which is truly a creative mecca. For this series I wanted to focus on creative events, unique aspects of the culture or language, and cool places that I find around Lithuania. Previously I've written about Open Kitchen, the Beer Marathon, a Cat Cafe, the Lithuanian Design Block, Pottery Class, Coffee Enthusiasm, A book fair, and a felting class.  If you have any suggestions of things to check out I'd love to hear them!

If you would like to participate in sharing creative things about where you live, tag your photos on Instagram or tweets on Twitter with #CreativeLithuania or #CreativeLocale. I'd love to see the creative side of every country! I'll share my favorite tweets and photos each month on social media and here on the blog.

And we're back with a new season of #CreativeLithuania! I have been checking out a ton of new creative events that have been happening around Vilnius and I'm excited share them with you. First up is the Vilnius Street Art Festival that happened around the city from August 19 until September 23. This festival started in 2013 and has since become a yearly event. Now I could be wrong (the information in English is limited and sad to say that my Lithuanian still stinks), but, from what I understand, the 2015 Street Art Festival was meant to beautify and help to rejuvenate the Stotis Neighborhood (near the train and bus stations). 

Five notable street artists from around the world were invited to Vilnius to create new pieces of art on selected buildings in the city. The first piece that I saw around the city (I had a street art map for these new paintings!) was by Millo, a street artist with a very distinctive black and white style, who is from Italy. 

1


Around the corner form Millo's painting, is another large work by the twin artists Osgemeos, who are from Brazil. I love that the person looks like he is popping out of a rubber building. This also really livens up the outdoor eating space and area near Kuele Ruke (the awesome pulled pork place). 


2



Strolling down the uneven sidewalks in alleys near the Egg Statue we found a large, dark piece by the artists Sepe and Chazme, from Poland. This piece is a bit sketchy and dark, but is perfect for the building and the location. I think my favorite part of this piece is actually the top of the building (where the chimneys are) because of the cool texture and 3-D look that it gives the building.


3

3


There are also pieces by Mobstr and Antanas Dubra, which I haven't yet had the chance to track down. From Mobstr's website I can see that the piece in Vilnius is written words. Antanas Dubra painted a large mural, entitled 'Grumpy side of the moon,' on the airport tower. J has been to the airport several times recently and hasn't noticed the mural - so perhaps you really need to keep an eye out for it if you are looking.


While we are at it, let's take a look at other pieces from previous years of the Street Art Festival...


Street Art Festival 2014

4 by Tank Petrol

5 by ARYZ

6 (*Sorry for the distant photo! I had a stroller and their were only stairs) by M-City


Street Art Festival 2013

7 by Jurgis Tarabilda

7



Other Murals Around Vilnius



A

B


C

C


D

E

E

F

G

H

H





*Notes: The numbers under the photos correspond to locations on the map. Murals that I don't have photos of are not numbered on the map. This map is up-to-date as of September/October 2015; however, many pieces change frequently, so don't be surprised if a piece isn't there any longer. This list is far from comprehensive - I know that I've missed some pieces from around the city. If you find something new I'd love for you to share it with me via social media (@insearchofs)!






Have you heard of these artists before? Where have you seen their art? Which is your favorite piece?