Saturday, March 3, 2012

How big is "big?"

We went online to figure out if there were any events coming up in Vilnius since we wanted an excuse to return. We found an event called Kaziukus Fair, a 400-year-old market weekend. We were able to figure out that it's largely a craft fair, but we learned little more. This gave Alla all the reason she needed to choose this weekend for our trip, though I had a hard time imagining that the craft market could be any more impressive than the ones we have two or three times a summer in Minsk. I didn't hold high hopes for the fair, but figured that this would be as good a time as any to see some of the architectural sites we failed to see last time. Besides, I wanted to buy more peanut butter.

When we arrived at our hotel we discovered that the crafts fair stretched as far as we could see in either direction on the street in front of our door. Somewhat excited, we went out to see what the vendors had to offer. Indeed we found lots of handcrafts, and of course we bought three of the festive flower sticks everybody seems to want during Kaziukus Fair. We also ate a lot. Especially I ate a lot, because I came a little under-dressed and eating helped me stay warm. I started with a pig's knee on sauerkraut, washed down with acorn "coffee." I kept coming back for more of that acorn stuff. It's really good. Later I bought a huge plate of stew. The meat tasted like lamb, but I suspect it was pork. It came in a delicious sauce with LOTS of some sort of legume; beans I guess.

We also consumed a certain amount of sample foods from various vendors and a big slice of a flaky filo-type pastry around an amazing volume of poppy seed filling. While this all-day feast killed our desire to eat dinner at a fancy restaurant, it didn't quite warm me up. Alla took me in hand then, and we bought a nice warm Lithuanian-style wool sweater. You may remember that Alla had to buy herself a sweater last time. The Lithuanian wool merchants are probably happy that we like their capital. Come to think of it, they must like our capital too. (This only makes sense if you know English well. In case Google Translate can't make the joke work, the first time I meant столица and the second time I meant капитал.)

Anyway, the street-long fair we saw from our hotel included as much as half of the entire market, assuming that we have in fact even noticed it all. The line of booths curves around into old town and spills out onto quite a few other streets. When I imagined "Big," I had no idea just how big I should think. I should have tried to imagine "Enormous." In any event, it's possible that tomorrow we will get beyond the market fair. Well, we will certainly get to a supermarket. Whether I finally get to the top of castle hill is, however, in serious doubt.
For more photos, click here.

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