One of Lithuania’s big national parks, Trakai is just half an hour or so away from Vilnius. So, having heard that it should be worth a visit we hopped on a bus around lunchtime (we slept all morning after a long first day) and went there. Since we got there around noon we decided to eat some local food for lunch. When I say local I mean Karaite food; the Karaites are a turkish people who have been living in the area since the 1400’s. They were originally brought to the area to be body guards for the king. Apparently meat filled pastries called Kybyn are what is normally considered the most Karaite, too bad we only ordered one of them; it would have been nicer to get Kybyn for the entire meal.
Having had lunch we moved on to sightseeing and first up was the peninsula castle ruin, a few crumbling walls on a small forested peninsula. Nice, but not too special. Next up was Trakai’s party piece, the red brick castle on an island in the middle of lake Galve. Nowadays the castle is connected to land by bridges but, since I like rowing, we decided to rent a boat and see it from the water. The castle is clearly best viewed from the water and it is really nice to row around the placid lake and just enjoy the sunshine.
Yini in the boat
The island castle
It’s fun to row
Of course, seeing the castle from the outside wasn’t enough, so we returned our boat and went across the bridges. It turns out the inside of the castle is not all that. Of course, for anyone interested in history, or someone who hasn’t been to many castles, it should be a nice little tour with lots of little exhibitions and wooden pathways but not for me. Frankly I find that the 14 lt entrance fee is a bit steep for what you get and would much rather spend the money on boat rental – it really is nicer.
Having covered the castles we took it easy for the rest of our time in Trakai. I took a swim in the lake while Yini waited on the beach, and we had some milkshake in a small cafe. I’m sure its possible to spend several days exploring Trakai as the whole park is full of small, interconnected lakes, lush forests and he villages around are sure to hold old churches and such, but we thought it better to head back to Vilnius for dinner, then decided it would probably be best to let our feet rest a bit instead of walking around all evening. That’s it for now, tomorrow we move on towards the coast.