Our group once again took advantage of Eastern Europe’s relatively laxer gun range laws and spent a whopping 3 hours shooting things we would never have a shot at — no pun intended — back in the USA. But more on that later…
We woke up to a beautiful late morning in Vilnius and started off our day with a long blynines (An eastern european version of pancakes) breakfast at Gusto Blynines:
While part of the group left early to check out the 2.5 hour free walking tour, the rest of us spent 2 hours trying to see everything in Vilnius’ Old Town on our own, starting off with the triad of castles near the Gate of Dawn.
Most notable is St. Casimir’s Cathedral, which was once a church of atheism when Lithuania was under Soviet control and still a fine example of baroque architecture:
Walk a bit more north and you can explore the former Jewish “ghetto” in the center of old town:
On the eastern part of Old Town across a short bridge is Užupis, a self-declared “breakaway” republic consisting of off-the-grid artists and bohemians (similar to the Christiania district in Copenhagen) living in a laissez-faire atmosphere. The neighborhood has its own constitution (posted on a street wall in multiple languages), president, laws, and even its own tongue-in-cheek passport stamp which you can get at a local bar/restaurant.
The district declared itself an independent Republic of Užupis on April 1st (get it?), 1997.
It takes about 20 minutes to walk around Užupis:
Before leaving, you can get your Užupis stamp at this restaurant/bar right across the bridge from the main old town:
Returning to the main part of old town west of Užupis, we went to check out the Orthodox Church:
…and St. Anne’s Church complex…
…and finally St. John’s Church:
At 2:45pm a friendly Lithuanian soldier picked us up in his van to take us to an outdoor gun range 25 minutes outside of Vilnius. Unlike in our gun instructors in Tallinn, this guy taught us how to start from scratch, including loading bullets in our own cartridges, and locking and loading on our own.
We started off with 4 types of pistols, including the Glock-17, the SIG Sauer P226, a Colt, and a Makarov PM pistol with a shoulder stabilizer:
Then we put our Glock-17s in a submachine converter with laser sight:
After that, the classic H&K MP-5 submachine gun:
The Thompson “Tommy” Gun:
The Defender 1300 pump-action shotgun:
And finally, the assault rifles:
I started off with an H&K G36:
I then got the chance to finally lock and load my own M4A1 Carbine with a silencer:
And finally the last 2 were variations of AK-47s:
All in all, we had a very educational afternoon:
And yet none of this grabbed our attention more than our instructor’s brave 6 year old son, who was fearlessly driving a motorbike the whole time we were shooting our guns mere yards away.
After cleaning up our instructor was kind enough to drive us back to the old city:
He dropped us off at the foot of Gediminas Hill so we could watch the sunset with the rest of the group.
It takes about a quick 8 minute climb up Gediminas Hill. At the top is Vilnius’ 3 Crosses Monument, a memorial to 7 Franciscan friars who were beheaded on top of this hill.
The city views here at sunset are a must:
After the sunset, we climbed back down the hill…
…and swung by Cathedral Square nearby:
At this point we happened upon the end of the all-women’s 5K that was taking place right around the corner:
After cheering them on, we had a long, lazy dinner among the quaint cobblestone streets along Vilnius University:
– At time of posting in Vilnius, Lithuania, it was 60.8 °F – Humidity: 63% | Wind Speed: 6km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear