Today we had a late morning once again, with some of us checking out flea markets and wrapping up the last Vilnius’ old town. At 2:30pm we left for the bus station (a 10min walk away) for the 20min bus for Trakai.
This is where things got testy. When we asked to buy tickets (1.70 euros) for the bus to Trakai, we were told at the information kiosk that we could buy them on the bus. We felt uncomfortable about this given the size of the group so we asked again to reserve them but once again was denied (“You can buy tickets on the bus!”). Shrugging our shoulders we headed to platform 28 for the 3pm bus, which was already boarding. There the driver told our group that he was already at capacity and 11 of us could not fit on the bus. Understandable.
We waited another 40 minutes for the 3:40pm bus and once again, as an empty bus pulled in and us at the front of the line, we were again told by the driver we could not board because this time: “You need to buy tickets beforehand to get on.”
An international war between USA, Spain, Italy and Lithuania then ensued; Spanish and Italian bystanders who had pre-purchased tickets tried to push us out of the way while we stood our ground and argued that it was wrong to have been told by the information kiosk earlier to buy tickets on the bus. So the commotion continued on from the bus back to the Lithuanians at the information kiosk where we demanded to speak to the manager…which of course got us nowhere but utter indifference and eyerolls. Either way, we ended up hailing taxis to take us to Trakai for 30 euros a car.
While the 20 minute drive gave us time to calm down, we then let it all go when we pulled up to Trakai:
Considering choosing the bus vs. the taxi, opportunity costs can be factored: It’s a 30 minute walk from the bus station to the castle, while it’s about a 5 minute walk to the castle from where the cabs drop you off.
The admission fee is 6 euros a person to get into the castle, although we “shock and awe-d” the ticket agent with enough student IDs to get the whole group the student price of 3 euros a person.
Once you walk in, you’ll come upon the main square where many concerts take place. For us, a “medieval rock/metal” festival was going on, which…sort of…contributed to the atmosphere. Otherwise, multiple activities for family fun abound here:
Keep walking past the square and up the stairs to the second part of the castle:
Here you can shoot airsoft guns, a bow & arrow, or a crossbow for 2 euros for 6 pellets/arrows.
At the very back of the castle is the museum portion, with basic exhibits on period pieces and the way of life way back in the 14th-15th centuries.
It’s a straightforward exhibition, taking about 15 minutes to breeze through all of it (although you’re welcome to stay hours here if medieval living is your thing).
At 6pm the group gathered for one last meal overlooking Trakai at sunset at the magnificent Apvalaus Stalo Klubas restaurant:
We then end our day with one final night together, led by Teja, a waitress I met a few weeks ago back in NYC who just happened to be visiting her home in Vilnius the same time we were, and accompanied by Judith, another Lithuanian visiting Vilnius for the weekend.
That night we showed off our karaoke chops (killing it with “I Want It That Way”, “Bad Romance” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”) to the entirety of Vilnius on a surprisingly lively Sunday night, and capping off the final day for many of us; 5 of us continue onwards tomorrow to our last “unofficial” extension day of the trip in Minsk, Belarus while 8 fly home from Vilnius. We miss you all already.
I can’t think of a better karaoke hit to end our last night together:
Or a hookah bar that Teja and I found together at 5am in the morning as she, nary a better guide I could ever ask for, showed me around the Vilnius only she knew, . . . .
Now Dave, who didn’t make any travel plans after our trip, is all alone in Vilnius.
– At time of posting in Trakai, Lithuania, it was 78.8 °F – Humidity: 34% | Wind Speed: 10km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy