by Guest Writer Marius Kantakevičius
About my City
In early morning only few people rushes to work and you can hear how sun tries its best to shine through curvy narrow streets of Vilnius Old Town.
Through ages City preserved small – red roofed quarters with medieval streets web shaped by early river springs. That’s why streets flows down as small river down the hill. Surrounding hills around Old Town makes magnificent natural amphitheatre with Dramas and Comedies happen every day.
This view fascinated Grand Duke Gediminas after a dream of an Iron wolf shouting like a hundred wolfs inside him. Gediminas realized that everyone in the world has to hear about the city and come here to see it. He invited craftsmen and merchants to come to Vilnius and make a living. That’s how story of Vilnius City started and lasts till now. Today Vilnians does same thing – invites people to touch and feel what we have created and preserved – mixture of spirit from medieval ages and vibrant modern culture.
Vilnius castles were built between two rivers as natural defence structures. Right next to one, smaller river Vilnelė suits remarkable Bernardine Garden with rare flowers and shrubs. With perfect scents we can pass along walking path and reach impressive baroque style churches built by Italian and Swiss architects. You won’t find any other place thousand kilometres around which would have so many baroque style architecture. As noble prize winner Czeslaw Milosz said, in Vilnius even clouds are shaped in baroque style.
Street musician interrupts calm walk and we have few minutes of local performance. Vilnians loves music so much, that we have special day dedicated just for street musicians. Cathedral belfry bells announce Noon and its time for us to get traditional meal for lunch. Maybe you might be interested something from XVII century recipes? Or what about modern cuisine with local ingredients? Vilnius Old Town restaurants have plenty to offer. I’ll leave you here to sense Vilnius spirit started from early river springs.
Text Guest Writer Marius Kantakevičius / Vilnius, Lithuania
I’m true Vilnian born and raised here. From early days I fell in love with the city. I even draw mural on my bedroom wall, that said “It’s my city”. Now I have an honour to represent my beloved city to foreigners and show the magic that comes straight out of dark dungeons, story telling red bricks and arrow stretched baroque church towers.
Feel invited to visit the capital of Lithuania and the city which I love. Maybe in your next journey to Vilnius we see each other and you tell me if you share my enthusiasm for my home town.
Photo: Guest Writer Marius Kantakevičius / Vilnius, Lithuania
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That morning I noted that the sun had risen very early and upon receiving the first benefits of light grey tones of the early morning light in the sky, I felt a great sense of excitement to make that first trip to the interior of Paraguay.
From my open window in my downtown Asuncion hotel, I already heard the first intense songs of birds that had probably spent the night in the large number of trees that cool the air of the capital and the cacophony of dawn was taking the form of sounds that were already enjoyed in a big city.
I immediately went to the bus terminal in order to not lose the opportunity or a single moment and bought a ticket to take me as quickly as possible to "Ciudad del Este" and enjoy the stunning "Iguazu Waterfalls", my mind being carried away with the images of that unforgettable film "The Mission” that touched us and softened the heart with the musical notes of Gabriel’s oboe, composed by Enio Morricone, shaking the fibres of the sensitivity of my being with the harshness and injustice of the conquest of the Americas; I boarded the first bus that was going to leave on that route and noticed that fortunately the bus was two stories, so I asked for a seat upstairs to in order to be able to look at the landscape and villages located along the way with roving eyes.
The bus began the journey, calling my attention to the many empty seats, and with no fellow passengers by my side, I put my backpack in the seat next to me, took out a bottle of water and a book about the history of the Paraguayan war that I had bought. After several minutes, I noticed that the bus was leaving the capital behind and entering a more rural landscape, continued on and suddenly stopped in the first village, where a large number of passengers climbed on-board and all the empty seats were occupied by people who greeted me kindly and looked at the people who had come from the capital with suspicion.
Thus began the journey, when to my surprise the landscape suddenly made a drastic change, with huge trees that seemed to have been drawn in some intense shades of lilac and many other yellow ones, the lapachos welcoming me to the heart of Paraguay. The land was intensely red, contrasting with the lush green vegetation and very small well-designed villages with perfectly clean and tidy red earth streets with their modest homes in the countryside laden with colourful flowers to create an atmosphere of absolute harmony.
I could not believe the natural beauty of the places I saw, when suddenly my young seat-mate pulled out a thermos and drank a kind of matera, something that I could see he enjoyed and that refreshed him. When I worked up the confidence to ask him sheepishly what he was drinking, his blue eyes immediately widened at me with surprise and in a subtle tone he told me, "How do you not know Terere? If you will allow me, I invite you to try it!” With that gesture of generosity, he explained to me in detail not only the manufacturing process for Tereré, but the almost magical benefits of this concoction and the importance of drinking it like water every day, as this was a strong tradition in Paraguay. The ride continued as if it were a trip through an artistic painting illuminated by lush jungle landscapes with asymmetry of simple welcoming people whose eyes brightened at the sound of the accent of a foreigner who travelled with them in this secret interior paradise.
The hours passed and almost all of the passengers seemed to change in every village, which got on and got off with their wares, with their spirited talk in the Guarani language. I had already observed that in some villages some women had climbed on with large baskets covered with impeccable clothes and who spoke quickly, saying a word that I could not understand.
Arriving at the next town, the same thing happened: another woman carrying a huge basket got on-board, from which came an aroma with hints of anise. I quickly asked her to give me two servings of something that resembled a bread, she responded with precision and I understood the name that they sang, which was “Chipas.” Upon tasting the crispness of the "Chipas" and enjoying the anise and spice flavoured dough of the bread, I realized that I was revealing in the secret garden of the traditions of Paraguay.
I arrived this afternoon at the end of the journey and with a deep sigh I remained in shocked silence as I listened to the roar of "Iguazu Falls" and saw the colours in the magnificence of God's grace in nature, grateful deep in my core to have made this enigmatic and enriching journey, exploring the wonders of Paraguay and finding hospitality in the heart of its beautiful people.
Photos by Guest Writer Luis Felipe Nuño PhD