Justins World

Grand Dukes of Hazzard

I woke up a bit later today.  Maybe it was because I got a remote so I could turn the aircon on and maybe it was the extra beer I had drunk the night before. I guess that mystery will go unsolved, so after a late breakfast, I thought I might go get the train ticket for tomorrow sorted out.  I had one of those moments where I knew I joined the wrong queue and being next in line, but figured any minute now the people in front would finish what they were doing and I’d be buying my ticket.  I thought this several times and nearly jumped lines twice.  Both times I’d have been served instead of waiting in the queue for 15 minutes.  I guess at least I got the train ticket to Siauliai (pronounced Show-lee) for the right day and time, without much fuss.

Dawn Gate in Vilnius

I then wandered back into the old town, going through what I thought was a new gate that I hadn’t been through before. I snapped some photos and kept walking, only to feel the street was familiar and realise I had indeed walked through that gate and along the street on Monday.  The Vilnius old town is quite large and has been maintained and restored to be a nice place to wander, but I do get lost there occasionally and when I can remember the main streets what hope have I got?

I reached the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and found it was open today. I entered the central courtyard where a glass-enclosed escalator takes you to the basement to start the visit of the museum and palace.  The basement contains the foundations and walls from a previous palace on the site that was excavated much more recently than the palace above it was built.  It felt a bit like the Roman ruins under the streets of Plovdiv in Bulgaria. A lot of glass steps and walkways are used so you can see as much as possible.

The History of Lithuania and also the palace is then detailed chronologically from around 1000 AD. People have lived in Lithuania since around 6000 BC, but Lithuania as a name of a place and its people is only about 1000 years old. At the beginning there is a model of the current palace with buildings no longer standing in an opaque white. It looks like they 3D printed the whole thing as well.

Model of the Vilnius Castle – opaque white no longer exists

As I walked through the rooms reading about the grand dukes or whomever at the time ruled Lithuania, there was also a model of the palace as it was then. So you see the palace evolve and change over hundreds of years which was a nice feature.

I also can’t help feeling for a Grand Duke and his poor advice from his astrologer. After his third marriage his astrologer said he would produce an heir with his fourth marriage so shortly after his third marriage he found himself a fourth marriage. Of course his astrologer wasn’t very good and he failed to produce an heir.

View from the palace

At the end of the museum, you can climb up the tower for some good views, much better than those obscured ones in the bell tower. Gedimas tower is quite close and featured in the models quite a bit except these days it’s missing a roof it once had. It is also closed for renovations.

I was walking down from the tower and lent into a window to get a view and sacked my head on the window frame arch. That bloody hurt and popped the lens out of my sunglasses. After getting over the shock I fixed my sunglasses and walked through the final part of the museum. This section had rooms decorated as they were for several periods of the Grand Duke reign. It was a nice end to a wonderful museum.

Gedimas Tower

I’d spent many hours in the museum and it was quite late so went to get some lunch and was walking at a brisk pace, eyed ahead when I failed to see the 4 steps down to a lower pavement and literally fell down the steps but landed on my feet still jarring my knees a bit. I limped back to the hotel to do my washing and rest. The knees and head are feeling better now but are a bit sensitive.

Tomorrow is a travel day but I’m stopping in a town on the way to see a peculiar site before continuing onto Riga in Latvia. Fortunately all part of the EU schengen zone so no borders for me to pass through for the rest of the trip.

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