I next flew into the small airport at Vilnius, Lithuania to see the old town that UNESCO has deemed a World Heritage Site and where it said that human activity was recorded as far back as 11,000 years ago by former occupiers, masters, and tyrants, but that now is highly tolerant. The area is famous for its production of amber and the Lithuanians seem to love it. I walked around town, hiked out into the countryside, and saw the town hall where George Bush spoke informing the world that the US would always stand by Lithuania.  The Vilnius Cathedral stands confidently in the city center.  It began as a pagan sanctuary dedicated to the god of thunder, fertility, and morality.  Lithuania was the last European state to hold out against the brutal Catholic Crusades.

My meals in Lithuania seemed primal, strange, and not easily forgotten. Vilnius is ground zero for rye bread and it seems to have an almost spiritual importance.  I really enjoyed some of the legendary saltibarsciai a bizarre looking chilled pink soup made of beetroot, sour milk (kefir) with freshly boiled eggs, lashings of dills and tiny potatoes.  Trust me, one taste and you will be blown away.

Lithuanians don’t seem too big on poultry, but served lots of wonderful sausage and pork, (and fish, being a Baltic nation). They seem to be masters of different ways to cook potatoes.  I happily devoured a legendary zeppelin, their most famous potato dish, a huge stuffed potato dumpling served with sour cream and garnished with cubed fried bacon.

Go to Lithuania for traditional cuisine, amber shopping, and friendly open people.