I wish I could put into words how happy I was arriving to The Baltic countries. In fact, I wish I could even tell you how excited I was to just be on a bus from Poland to Lithuania and have one day to explore Vilnius.
I wish this could be one of those things I could share with other people without having to say a single word, but in this world that’s no way possible. So I shall do my best to share my day in Vilnius here.
I hope I can put some excitement and happiness into words.
By this time I was traveling with two Portuguese girls I had met on my backpacking trip. I had met one of their friends, another Portuguese girl. We had visited Warsaw and we took a train to Krakow and made the visit to Auschwitz. Meeting these girls was one of those beautiful things. They gave me amazing memories to take homeand I will never forget them.
That morning we said goodbye to one of the girls and carried our day like any other day in Warsaw. Everything was calm and quiet, our bags were not packed until an hour before going to the bus station. We didn’t get that travel bug before going on an adventure. It hit me pretty late this time, but when that feeling came nothing could stop me from being happy.
I turned to one of the girls and said “Oh my God…we are going to Lithuania!!
As soon as we got to the station I realized we were not the only three people on the bus. In fact the bus was absolutely full, which would make this night bus one of the worst I ever had!
I love traveling by bus, I really do. On long travels they normally give you free coffee, a screen to yourself and you can watch movies or listen to music. Time really does fly when you get that screen!
Night bus from Warsaw to Vilnius
The thing about this particular bus is that there was no screen. Besides not having the screen, this was the oldest bus on earth. I remember thinking if the first bus ever invented still existed, that would be the bus. It made weird annoying noises the entire time,like an old creepy haunted house. And to top it all, I was stuck with a slightly fat lady next to me. So, I couldn’t move not even an inch, because I had absolutely no space to do it.
Oh, and you know how a long distance bus usually stops every few hours for the driver to rest, and people can actually go out of the bus and stretch the legs? Well, this driver decided he was Hulk! He didn’t need to make any stop or take any time to rest. It was 9h straight! Maybe he should have asked us if we had intentions of being the same. I sure didn’t.
I didn’t get any sleep this night. And even complaining every thirty minutes about the lack of space, after a while I had this moment of pure and absolute joy. The kind of feeling that makes me want to travel even more and happy that I decided to adventure myself alone in Europe in the first place.
I looked outside the window, as I talked to a friend on the Internet. Suddenly I realized I was actually in Lithuania. I really can’t explain what happened there, but I was smiling. Looking at the window on a moving bus and smiling. I repetead in my head over and over “Oh my God, I’m in Lithuania!”
Ever since I left Italy to explore countries I’ve never been to, The Baltic countries were always on my mind. I always said I wanted to go there, but the idea of actually going scared me.
I wanted to go back home and always remember that I backpacked Europe, starting in Italy and traveling almost all countries in Eastern Europe all the way to the very top to Estonia, and all on my own. If I did that I would feel kind of like a rock star, because who do you know that actually pulled that off? I mean, it’s a great reason to be proud of.
The down side of night buses is that you usually arrive pretty early in the morning but check-in in the hostel is usually after 2pm. This means you’re probably exhausted with the lack of sleep, but you need to kill some time until actually making it to the hostel.
Arriving in Vilnius for a day | Lithuania
After watching the sun rising on the bus, which I can tell was worth every single moment of discomfort on that bus, we arrived in Vilnius for our day of exploring. Got ourselves some hot chocolate, found a McDonalds and stayed there in the warm for about two hours. I think it’s ok for me to tell here that I fell asleep with my head on the table.
We then wondered around Vilnius for a while. We talked a lot, ate a lot as well, and I remember thinking how comfortable I felt with those two girls. I had met them just a week ago. Still, everybody we met thought we knew each other from Portugal from a long time ago.
I think I was so lucky to have found them and that we got to explore four incredible countries all together. Couldn’t have asked for more!
We got to our hostel only to discover we were staying right in the Old Town. And the hostel was pretty great! We were a little suspicious of what to expect once we got to the door and it was basically a dwarf door! I’m 5’3 and I had to lean to be able to pass through it!
Then we had to take our shoes at the entrance, and we didn’t knew at this point that we would have to get used to this costum in all the Baltic countries. We were the people who always walked inside and had someone yelling “Take your shoes off!!!”
Exploring Vilnius for the first time
We dropped our backpacks and went exploring a little of the city on our own. Starting our search for postcards and magnets or souvenirs and being enchanted by Vilnius on our way. I admit the city actually surprised me, as it was nothing as I expected. And one amazing thing we discovered was the fact that, contradicting our fears, almost everybody spoke perfect English! And me thinking we would have trouble communicating in the Baltic countries. Silly me!
Since we only had one day to know as much as possible about Lithuania, we decided to take the Free Walking Tour. Best decision ever! We got what I can say was one of the best tour guides eve. She even offered us some Easter eggs, and we learned way more than we expected!
Vilnius surprised me in so many ways I can’t even explain how happy I was to have made it there.
After a great Free Walking Tour around the city, we got back to our hostel to rest a little, but ended up falling asleep like babies. By the time we got up, the day was almost over. Still, we had only one thing left to do: climb the hill and check the city view from the Castle.
Vilnius is a pretty small city, so you can walk everywhere, which is pretty amazing. Our hostel was so well located that in less than ten minutes we were climbing the Hill up to the Castle. Only there we actually saw what shocked us the most: the city is divided by a river, and on one side you have the Old Town and the other you find the new , modern Vilnius. The difference is gigantic. It even seems like another city! The only place you can have this perception is from the top of the Castle, which, if you can ignore the wind and freezing cold, is pretty amazing.
By this time I was feeling a bit sad we only had one day in Vilnius. I knew I wanted to stay longer if I could, but things were all planned out and we would head to Latvia the next day. And I had to say no to visiting one place I really wanted to go to: Trakai.
But I guess this is just one of the million reasons for me to go back to Lithuania one day!
We ended our day in Vilnius at a coffee shop, where we went to meet another Portuguese girl – what are the odds of four Portuguese girls being in Lithuania all together?
We were heading back to the hostel, when we got this urge to experience some typical Lithuanian food and their special beer. So we turned back and explored in search for the best place to be at night. We found a pretty cool bar, with young people and great environment.
We sat down, and we went crazy over the prices. It was even cheaper than Poland! You could actually get pretty much all the main dishes for only THREE EUROS!!! We called the waitress right away and ordered some typical food and beer.
The answer we got was “Kitchen is closed…”
Noooo!! We were heartbroken, for real. It was our only shot to experience Lithuanian food, and we had just lost it! I can’t tell you how sad I was about this. One more reason to go back? The list keeps growing.
We got ourselves some Lithuanian beer, chat for a while and I felt pretty happy and lucky to have met the girls. If it wasn’t for them, I would never have had the courage to go beyond Poland.
I know I would’ve gone home with a feeling of regret, because now I can tell you that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are on the top of my list of favorite places I visited, and I have the two portuguese girls I met to thank for.
We left the next morning with a bittersweet feeling, but we got ourselves a pretty great breakfast at the hostel: waffles with loads of chocolate! God, I love this country! Free waffles before another five hour bus is as good as it gets!
Dear Vilnius & Lithuania, we’ll meet again one day.
How to get to Lithuania & travel around the Baltic countries
Getting to Lithuania is much easier than most think. You have a couple of bus companies that make regular services to the Baltic countries, like Ecolines, LuxEpress and SimpleExpress.
All these buses are comfortable, with wifi, screen for each seat (with movies, tv shows and music), and some even have a coffee machine that you can use as you wish for free. These three companies also have the plus of offering very cheap services.
For exemple, from Tallinn, Estonia, to Warsaw in Poland, the trip costs 35€, meaning you’re paying only that to crossing four countries. Meaning, with less than 70€ in transportation, you can travel from Poland to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and back to Poland!