25 December 2011

New Year's Day Flea Market 2010 - Lithuania

Happy New Year! I hope your Christmas was delightful and that Santa brought everything on your list.

I recently came across some photographs I took a couple of years ago when I spent the holidays in Vilnius, Lithuania. I hope you enjoy this Eastern Europe Flea Market.

Even though it was quite cold and lightly snowing, at the crack of dawn vendors began arriving and setting out their wares on the snow covered steps.

These guys looked a little tired. Perhaps they celebrated too much the night before.

I thought that this dealer had the most interesting selection of antiques.

If these brass lights could talk, what stories would they tell? They were quite large, close to three feet in length.


What an interesting assortment of Soviet-era antiques and collectibles. Very few of the pieces were priced. Because Russian was the only language taught in schools up until 1990, few older Lithuanians spoke English. That's OK, I was content to just look.

These were some of the few dealers who brought furniture. I suspect the snow had something to do with that.

A suitcase filled with binoculars.

Soviet bronze busts. The brush must have been for removing snow. Several of the vendors had them.

I wish these could have come home with me. I can envision the elegant and romantic house where they used to hang.

Lovely carving on this old box.

There were quite a few military items. German WWII knives with sheaves were selling for around $20.

I can just imagine trying to fly home with a grenade in my luggage. As it was, it took us three hours to get through security in Amsterdam on our way back to the U.S.

I really liked these primitives.

And these.

Assorted metalware on an interesting old trunk.

A view of the city. Note the empty champagne bottles on the landing.

Someone brought an old spinning wheel.

I'm not sure how these books were protected from the snow.

Ornate door hardware and odds and ends.

A leftover from New Year's Eve in Vilnius.

18 December 2011

Christmas In Lithuania

A pretty girl selling handmade treats in Old Town Vilnius outdoor market.

Do you have a favorite Christmas? One you know you'll never forget for as long as you live?

I do.

In 2009, my husband was working in Lithuania and couldn't leave his job to come home for the holidays. Our family had never spent a Christmas apart, so our daughter and I flew over there to be with him.

I LOVE to fly, but I also think it can be excruciatingly stressful, especially if there are connecting flights.

Because my flight originated from a small airport in Hancock, Michigan (CMX)--so small, in fact, that if I call there, I might end up speaking directly to the airport manager--I was able to reschedule my flight to Boston and get a step ahead of the approaching storm that a day later would close and disrupt flights out of many major American and European airports. Whew!

As my daughter and I stood in line to board our 9 p.m. Christmas night flight out of Boston Logan to Schiphol in the Netherlands, the TV monitors flashed breaking news that the "underwear bomber" had just been arrested at Detroit Metro. Oh Great!

I was never so glad in my life when we finally boarded and were in flight.

Traveling on Christmas Day was super fun; complimentary wine and snacks and flight attendants in Santa caps and reindeer antlers; sleeping for a few hours and waking up in Amsterdam. How cool is that?

Neither of us had ever been to Eastern Europe. Were we in for a surprise! Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, would soon charm us with its medieval architecture, fabulous food and drink, and attractive exchange rate that made some purchases only slightly more expensive than Mexico.

View overlooking the city from our apartment.

My husband's apartment was IKEA modern with a woodstove and a spiral staircase and had a great view of the capital city.

Our VIP seating for viewing New Year's Eve fireworks.

I learned that Lithuania gained its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1990. Remnants of the occupation are most notably present in the unattractive, Soviet-built apartment buildings, some that even today remain unfinished. Not surprisingly, graffiti is everywhere, which in itself poses the question: is it art or vandalism?

Graffiti on a wall in Old Town.

Christmas graffiti on a wall near the U.S. Embassy.

More graffiti on lovely painted doors.

Except for weekends, my husband had to work for much of the time we were there. Since downtown was within walking distance, we explored the city during the day, and he took us us around by car in the evening.

The main street in Old Town.

Once you get off the main streets, side streets look like this.

One of the many tunnels that connect the streets in Old Town.

A touch of color brightens dark, drab winter days.

Lithuania is known for its amber and linen. Lithuanian chocolate is to die for.

If you think of Lithuania as a country of women in babushkas (though I'm sure you'll see them in the country), think again.

In Vilnius, women young and old wore fashionable fur coats and tall boots.

Does this look like a remnant of the Soviet era?

Vilnius is a city of stylish and slender women; I don't recall seeing any young women who were overweight.

How in the world does one stay slim with this as a temptation? Notice the empty space.

The local beer was awesome, as was everything else we tried.

One thing you will find in large super markets such as Maxima, are aisles of fresh food, especially cheese, dairy, yogurt, bread, and sausage. We hardly saw any pre-prepared, over-processed frozen foods; a couple of frozen pizza brands was about it. Refrigerators are small and people shop everyday.

This is how you buy fish if it isn't swimming in a tank: many meats such as lamb are similarly displayed on ice and out in the open.
Vilnius is a cat city.....

We saw them on signs and buildings.

This is one of the locals who hung out by the dumpsters at our apartment building. Every morning tenants left small bowls of food for the cute little scavengers.

If you're still reading.....thanks a lot. Guess I got a little winded!

All I can say is that I love Lithuania!!! I hope I get the chance to visit again.

Next up, I'll try to post some pictures taken at an outdoor flea market held on New Year's Day in Vilnius. It would have been 'seventh heaven' for anyone interested in inexpensively priced WWII relics and elegant, old world treasures.

Until next time.....


17 December 2011

Twas the Week Before Christmas

Should I be worried? I haven't done a thing to get ready for Christmas other than trim this scrawny tree. It was twice as tall until I took the handsaw to it. Look at the bright side: it only needs half as many ornaments. ;-)

Before my husband goes out to get a tree, I always tell him, "don't cut a good one," ....one of the few times he actually listens to me! HA! This tree had really scraggly lower branches, and I had no choice but to cut the bottom half off and put it in a bushel basket.

Hey, I'm not stressing over a tree.....'tis the season to be jolly, right?

Wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday season.

04 December 2011

Silent Snow

Holy wah! Would you believe that yesterday I was running around in sandals? Seriously. There was no snow on the ground. This is what I awoke to this morning.

I think what I like most about snow is that it is so quiet. While I was sleeping, my world silently transformed into Winter Wonderland.

Before sunrise, on my way to stoke the fire in the woodboiler, everything feels Clean. Fresh. Pure. An illusion, but still, a moment to savor.

Tangled strings of Christmas lights in a primitive well bucket cast a celestial glow in the woodshed.

It is a perfect winter morning: Fresh Copper Country air and the crackle of burning logs.