Sunday, April 24, 2011

9/2 in Vilnius

Inija dropped me off downtown on her way somewhere, and I decided to visit the 
Lithuania National Gallery. I spent half the day there looking at a stunning display of 
Victorian outfits
Exhibit Entrance

 and a horde exhibit of 8th-11th century jewelry.
 What a combination! As 
I was heading back downstairs, I heard a harp playing and walked into another gallery to 
witness a lady playing several instruments to a crowd of high school students. I just sat 
down behind them and listened for a while. The rain was quite steady outside and I worked 
my way back to the center of town by stopping at the gift shops of two more museums. The 
LNG is the only museum I've been to that had more visitors than workers. Oftentimes, it 
seems like I'm the only person in a gallery, and I am!
Slightly famished, I crossed the street to avoid the Catholic church where they had 
a"flash mob" last month wearing T-Shirts proclaiming that "Christianity is 
Occupation!" Seems like the holy fathers won't let the Heathens visit the remnants 
of Gediminas' personal temple to Perkunas (Thor) in the basement any more. (Harry 
MacBride and I were fortunate enough to view them in 1998. It was one of the few churches 
I actually entered.)
Slightly famished, I tried the new (to me) Zoe's Bar & Grill for a BLT & a Cosmopolitan. 
Both were excellent. Mostly replete and semi-dry, I ventured out again working my way 
back via a student art gallery, and then stumbled upon an internet cafe cum bookshop cum 
teahouse. Had a restorative pot of black tea and free pc while watching it pour in 
buckets before I ventured out towards the street vendors on Pilies (Castle) Street. 
I passed an Italian !!! bakery - I guess they moved here, too. The bread smelled amazing, 
and I bought a baguette and an olive roll for the house for later. The amber dealers were 
mostly rained out, packing up, and gone by the time I arrived, but one of my favorite 
little stores which sells goods made by the handicapped was still open. I like to support 
them, and bought many souvenirs including a hand-crocheted orange chenille phone case to 
add to my "Only in Lithuania" list. I also found a small, very lightweight, 
thin pine table for my house in Dvarciskes for $12 that I lugged back, too. All this 
shopping had made me thirsty, so I stopped at Cili's for a pear shake and a small plate 
of fruit crepes (they invent their own deserts)drizzled with sauce and topped with ice 
cream. The pear shake is actually called a pear cocktail, but it's basically fresh fruit 
in watery milk. It sounds terrible, but I'm afraid it's indescribably delicious! Caught a 
bus home and called it a day. We leave for Kaunas in the morning.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

DC Discoveries

Sadly, I could only attend the Colombia, MD blot in spirit this weekend while visiting DC with kin for the cherry blossom fest this weekend. Gary the Viking invited me for their blot, but previous commitments prevented a happy reunion. Maybe we'll see you at Della & Stephen's Handfasting at Ravenwood in July?

Retrograde times provided interesting challenges, delayed luggage, too much traffic/blocked-off streets, too much to see, three different pc's with no yahoo/facebook access for four days, missed Metro stops. Even the weather was out of sorts. First day was cool - never reached 50 with endless showers and gray skies, but nothing could daunt spring bursting out all over with tulips and daffodils and myriad other flowering things. Sadly, the harsh weather had blown away at least half the blooms on the cherry trees, but there were many lovely views to be had.

With the government shutdown looming, prudence dictated that we go to our priorities first on Friday afternoon: Library of Congress, National Botanical Gardens, Museum of the American Indian were all we could manage before closing time and back to Arlington for Red, Hot & Blue BBQ.

Saturday we drove through Georgetown and out to the National Cathedral to see the stained glass and the gargoyles and flying buttresses. (Found free Sat. parking right out front!) The 360 view from the 7th floor observatory was impressive even though visibility was still poor, but not as thick as yesterday - it was also 5-10 degrees warmer. Returned to the hotel and made dinner in our 1BR apartment and had friends in. President Obama made a surprise visit to the Lincoln Memorial to assure us tourists that the government would not be shutting down and we should enjoy our vacations - so we better get busy supporting the economy
Sunday, after first trying to drive 3 miles in maddening traffic to go around the tidal basin, we had no trouble at all heading back to the hotel in less than 10 minutes while calling a cab (who also got lost/obstructed twice and made 2 amazing u-turns) to take us to the Yacht Marina for a special cherry blossom "traditional" high tea and 90-minute cruise on a 1947 yacht on the Potomac around the cherry blossom islands. We had ideal weather and good visibility. That was sooo fabulous all of our previous tribulations melted away - we even met two fellow Ohioans aboard!
Sunday night we went out for dinner at Ray's the Steaks for an incredibly delicious meal with family-style sides of perfectly skinless, perfectly mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. Ray's other restaurant is even more famous since President Obama has been there twice and is charmingly named Ray's Hell Burgers. He even stopped by our table and asked how we enjoyed our dinner.