Enchanted Vilnius

20170530_135249 (2)Sometimes taking a leap of faith, or a road trip, to a place unknown can lead to the most beautiful surprises. When my cousin proposed a visit to Vilnius, Lithuania during my three week stay in Europe, I wasn’t immediately swept off my feet. I dreamt of Vienna, Prague or Stockholm. The small country  of Lithuania was never on my radar as a tourist destination. Images of many former eastern block nations danced in my head like a depressing film noir. What could I possibly see or enjoy in Lithuania for one day, let alone three! I was primed to be enchanted.

The six hour comfort bus ride from Bialystok (for which I paid $38 round trip!) to Vilnius was filled with naps and stork spotting, wifi and snacks. I barely realized how much time had passed when we pulled into Lithuania’s capital city. A city where almost 700 years of history mingles to highlight its past with the emerging bright future. Where any visitor with euros in their pocket and speaking nothing more than English can feel at ease. Where I was reminded of how much this city and country were a part of my own Polish heritage.

20170530_172032 (2)20170530_172538 (2)20170530_172715 (2)20170530_173036 (2)      20170530_172829 (2)20170530_172648 (2)20170530_173153 (2)20170530_173733 (2)20170530_175717 (2)     20170530_174822 (2)20170530_180004 (2)20170530_175651 (2)20170530_173529 (2)20170530_172507 (2)20170530_172205_HDR (2)20170530_182358 (2)20170530_182412 (2)20170530_183520 (2)20170531_184953 (2)     20170531_190636 (2)20170531_190625 (2)20170530_183447 (2)20170530_182533_HDR (2)20170530_182549_HDR (2)20170530_184359_HDR (2)20170530_184529 (2)20170530_185021 (2)20170530_184858 (2)20170530_185311 (2)     20170530_184840 (2)20170530_184915 (2)20170530_183912 (2)20170530_185535 (2)20170530_190200_HDR (2)    20170530_190119 (2)20170530_191730 (2)20170530_191615 (2)     20170530_191618 (2)20170530_204718 (2)20170530_194214 (2)20170530_195652 (2)      20170530_195346 (2)20170530_191802 (2)20170530_191953_HDR (2)    20170530_191914 (2)20170530_192417_HDR (2)     20170531_132520 (2)20170531_132323 (2)       20170530_182504 (2)20170531_182256 (2)20170531_135653_HDR (2)20170531_140949_HDR (2)20170531_140800 (2)       20170531_140810 (2)20170531_141457 (2)20170531_123012 (2)20170531_123152_HDR (2)As always it is near impossible to present in a few words and photos what a country or a city has to offer. There are so many beautiful places around the world that need to be seen with your own eyes. I’m still slowly checking off my extensive travel list, as each year I make a choice between seeing something new or returning to a place I have come to love.

Vilnius is definitely going on the “must return” list. I hope you will travel there yourself and become enchanted!


Doors Open London 2014

London Ontario Culture Days Buttons for Doors Open London OntarioThis weekend, the boy and I joined hundreds of people from London and area to explore heritage buildings, museums, art organizations, and the cultural life of our city…for free!!! In a collaborative initiative, Doors Open and Culture Days raised awareness and increased public engagement with historic organizations and cultural institutions, many of which are not normally accessible to the public. There were almost too many places to visit. We had to be judicious in our choices and decided to stick to locations within walking distance of home. So on a beautiful, sun-filled day we set out to explore London.

Canadian Medical Hall of Fame London OntarioExterior Windows on Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in London OntarioVintage lights on the exterior of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Museum Portaits in the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in London OntarioDr Leonora Howard King | Canadian Medical Hall of FameThe Canadian Medical Hall of Fame was our first stop. Originally constructed in 1928 as a Bank of Toronto, it is a Renaissance Revival building that now features the remarkable contributions of Canadians to the medical field. The portrait gallery houses many well known names. But the one that struck me most was Dr. Leonora Howard King. She was the first officially licensed female doctor in China who by 1884 single-handedly established a practice devoted entirely to women and children. Had she stayed in Canada she would have been barred from practicing medicine yet her determination had made a difference to a group of people across the globe.

Listeing to tour guide during Doors Open London Ontario at the 1st Hussars Museum First Hussars WWI photo wall | London OntarioFirst Hussars WWII quilt | London OntarioCanadian soldier outside First Hussars Museum in London OntarioMeeting-Canadian-soldiersNext stop was the 1st Hussars Museum at 1 Dundas Street. The building was a little difficult to locate initially. We had a vague idea where we thought it should be as we walked around the Old Court House building searching for a sign or an entrance. Finding none, we made our way toward the river and discovered a tiny yellow house.

The unimposing structure built in 1880-1 and one of the last remaining original buildings at the Fork of the Thames, houses a very important and unique collection of memorabilia from both World Wars. A tour led by a volunteer, Colonel Joe Murray (who also turned out to be our high school teacher) was inspiring and detailed. And most of all, it exhibited the passion that all the volunteers hold for preserving the memories of the past.

Of course the tour wouldn’t be complete without a chat and a thank you to the men and women who keep us safe around the world today.

The Arts Project London OntarioGallery wall with paintings at the Arts Project in London OntarioGallery wall with photos and sculptures in the Arts Project in London OntarioNatural materials sculpture on display in the Arts Project in LondonNext we admired the work of eleven artist exhibiting their pieces at the ARTS Project. The building first constructed in the mid-1880s as Hawthorn’s Hotel has gone through many incarnations to now house three galleries, a black box theatre and art studios.

Reading outside the Old Court House in London OntarioAlong our tour we also visited Museum London, DNA Artspace, and the Polish Hall (for a well deserved home cooked meal) before my feet gave out. I can’t wait to see what next year brings. If you didn’t partake this year, I hope you join the tours next year. If you did I’d love to hear what your favourite stops were in 2014.