17th April 2015 – Vilnius, Lithuania
From the cash-laden west of Europe, I was Again back to the east, the land of the tall. And in the Jerusalem of Lithuania, I found A soviet stink, reeking even years after its fall.
I arrived in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania today. The Baltics tour had just begun!
I was picked up from the airport from my friend Margarita (And my name is rum!) who I had met before in Singapore, and then travelled together in Laos. The world of couch surfers is really small, as you can see. And you end up having friends anywhere in the world.
Vilnius is almost like any other Eastern European city that I have been to on this trip, reminding me in parts of Bratislava, Warsaw, Budapest, and even Prague. The city structure was pretty much similar in all these cities. There was an old town, a cathedral and a castle. In that order. And Vilnius was no different.
But there was something more catchy about Vilnius. Its deep soviet feel. The architecture and buildings in this city are still in the old soviet-era model, and a strong Jewish influence has left its mark, with Vilnius often being called the ‘Jerusalem of Lithuania’.
But nowhere is the soviet touch more reminiscent than in the sports complex of Vilnius. Now, you have a giant abandoned sport complex, in the prime middle of the city, and facing the castle. Built in a unique swoosh style, just across the Neris river and close to the cathedral square, there is no way you can miss this giant leviathan. But you dont notice that it is abandoned, until someone tells you.
The sports complex was built next to a Jewish cemetery back in 1971, and has been almost abandoned for the last 10 years. There are talks of the government planning to convert the complex to a modern congress centre.
So, I wouldn’t be surprised if the structure is used by the time I visit this again in the future.