Amazing is the only word that comes to mind after walking into this facility. Actually, if I am being realistic, I’ll admit that I was awestruck and at a loss for words. The facility itself was beautifully renovated. The space was welcoming as were all the people.
As an American, I rarely come in contact with books and documents that are more than a few hundred years old. Here, that was a new kid on the block!
Believe it or not, the object below is one book! Can you imagine sewing the pages of something this large together, much less lifting it and bringing it somewhere?
We felt very privileged to have so much attention paid to us. Our tour through the archives (which are closed for vacation) included a glimpse of the reading rooms and all the equipment available. We also had a close up look at brilliantly colored illustrated manuscripts whose colors do not seem to have faded all these centuries after they were first painted. The documents were under protective glass and photographing them was not an option.
Our final visit at the archive was with Galina Baranova, who has been most helpful identifying records and resources for us.
We headed back outside to walk around the Vilna Ghetto area, and then to walk further afield getting a good feel for the city and all the peoples who have inhabited the area. Vilna has changed hands so many times – I get dizzy trying to sort it all out. As we wandered around, I was fascinated by the alleys and courtyards, and what could be seen through the archways.
Although many of the buildings are new, they were built on the footprint of the previous structures, so the overall concept with very little imagination (ok, the cars weren’t always her and the narrow streets prove that) takes you back in time.
There is so much to see. I guess I am also forgetting to mention the amazing pastries, ice cream and Lithuanian food. We have had phenomenal ice cream snacks from carts in the street downtown, incredibly creative and delicious meals – some traditional Lithuanian food, like the potatoes stuffed with either meat or curds; mead and local beers to drink; and pastries galore. Oh, and pizza. Everywhere you look there is another pizza place. The decor is kind of unusual in some of them – one the other day in Kaunas had red velvet couches all over and chandeliers – not exactly what I expected in a pizza place!
Lindsay is scheduled for her dental visit on Tuesday and we are all on edge. I’m sure the jokes being thrown about aren’t helping her, but we are all so nervous.