We had a very mixed reception into Vilnius in Lithuania. On trying to buy a train ticket to Warsaw for the following day we were met with a shake of the head, and an avoidance of eye contact – a complete stonewalling. Eventually we found the correct office, where the the clerk spoke a little English, and in order to make our train ticket for the Polish leg of the journey, we were treated to a show of stamping, copying, writing on slips of paper, filing them, stapling them, that is pretty much obsolete in the UK these days. (Those who are familiar with our performances – it was like the work room where the two performers were in ‘I am waiting…’ but with just one person doing every function.)
On arrival at our hotel it couldn’t have been a more different story. The girl at reception appeared to be smiling for Lithuania! Our cash seemed to be stretching a long way here, so we joined the Lithuanian glitterati at a swish restaurant called Pegasus, where I had tagliatelle (yes, back to Italian) followed by crème brulee with a satisfyingly crisp top. Then on with our tour of the ‘Skybars’ of the Baltics (we just couldn’t resist!) – this one also had a great view, with more of the historic buildings lit up, but involved a much longer trek to get there. There seemed to be a lot more money washing around in Vilnius compared with the other Baltic capitals – there were flashy Audi and VW garages on the outskirts, the streets seemed grander and cleaner, and the buildings were large baroque affairs like ornate wedding cakes. In summary: we liked it a lot – decadence at bargain basement prices.