Visitor’s Guide to Vilnius

 

Lithuania never ceases to impress. The land of fields and forests has much more to offer than just agriculture and natural beauties. Its capital, Vilnius, is boasting a long and exciting history that makes this a perfect city to visit!

Lithuanian landscape

This second largest Baltic city was the home to Grand Dukes of Lithuania already in the 14th century and in the following decades it really established its multicultural character by accommodating Lithuanian, Jewish, Polish, Russian and many other ethnic groups. The city never lost its initial importance and despite having many troubles to overcome this is now a flourishing capital of Lithuania. The country joined European Union in 2004 and held EU presidency in the second half of 2013 with most important events being held in Vilnius.

Best way to see the city is by truly submerging yourself in the best experiences each location has to offer. Everybody can take a map and go around, but what really stays with you is the unusual, different and exciting adventures.

Start your day hopping on a hot air balloon and see the city from the bird’s perspective! Try to spot Gedminias’ tower, St Anne’s Church, Užupis Republic and the Jewish quarter from your balloon. Be sure to wear warm clothes as it might get pretty chilly up there.

Vilnius

Tick off the must-see sights of Vilnius with a 3-hour guided tour that will take you all around the city on foot and by bus. Sometimes it’s nice to hear the story behind the building or a sight, especially if you’re visiting Užupis Republic or Literatu Gatve. We heard the mayor himself comes for a beer to Užupio kavine on his segway! Finish your night in style – dine on the top of Vilnius’ TV Tower with views on the city night panorama. If you want to be more down-to-Earth (pun intended) then try a popular Busi trečias (“Be third” in Lithuanian) with their selection of flavoured beer. Caramel beer? Might sound weird but it’s delicious!

Užupis Art Zone

Literatu gatve

Climb the Three Crosses Hill for more panorama. Sit in for lunch at popular gastropub Kitchen. Visit Adam Mickiewicz’s house. Go to the flea market across the river. Admire amber, the gold of the Baltics! Excitement is around every corner!

Despite its romantic character and colourful streets Vilnius still has some reminders of the Soviet times and a definite tourist favourite is KGB museum. This will give you a  chilling insight into the lives of Soviet prisoners as the cells remain unaltered from Soviet times. For a lighter museum tour try Lithuania’s Open Air Museum. It is located near Kaunas and it offers an abundance of artifacts – buildings, beehives, furniture, wells, household items, etc. Artifacts come from different regions of Lithuania and if the weather permits this should be a wonderful beginner’s guide to Lithuanian culture. Combine this with a detour to Pažaislis monastery or maybe a full-on visit to Kaunas.

Pažaislis Monastery near Kaunas

In this second Lithuanian capital walk down Laisves aleja until you reach the old town. Don’t miss the Kaunas castle, confluence of Nemunas and Neris river and a tiny little church just behind Laisves aleja that houses a room of candles. In the winter you can ice skate in the old town and visit the unusual Devils Museum and more traditional Historical Presidential palace. Also highly recommened is a stop in Berneliu Užiega restaurant that serves traditional Lithuanian dishes at an affordable price.

Don’t leave Lithuania without a day trip tour to Trakai castle, which was home to many Lithuanian dukes and what is now certainly a breathtaking sight in itself. You can spend a whole day there as Trakai offers a wide range of activities – biking, canoeing, fishing, horseback riding and the list goes on.

Trakai castle near Vilnius

These are only a few ideas on how to spend your time in Vilnius. In addition to the above we suggest you to consider also a beer bike tour, canoe polo, clay pigeon shooting, laser tag game, paintball, golfing, spa and many more. Get inspired and create a trip to remember!

If you have any great ideas on what to do in Vilnius and surroundings or need help with designing your perfect stay in Lithuania, write us a comment or use Twitter and we’ll be glad to help!

WHY ARE INCENTIVES GOOD?

There’s an ongoing debate around corporate travel and incentives trips. Do we need them? Why are they good? Is it even appropriate to spend money on such things? Fortunately the trend is shifting back to companies investing in their employees by providing incentive travels and exciting team-building trips.

There are several reasons why incentives are not a waste of money:

– Motivating your employees and acknowledging their hard work leads to higher productivity. A happy employee is a good employee.

– It is also showing that the company cares about its employees, increases company loyalty and diminishes the risk of losing key employees.

Investing in your employees pays off. You will end up with a dedicated, educated and content workforce.

– Shared experiences tie people closer together. Getting your employees share an exciting incentive trip together will make them a better team. It’s like being caught in an elevator for a few hours, but much more fun and educational!

– Team-building activities are perfect to incorporate in incentive trips as they improve communication within a team, they motivate for further success and make people work towards a common goal. They also expose strengths and weaknesses of a team and improve productivity, creativity and teamwork.

– Interestingly enough money-based incentives proved not to be successful as they rarely boost productivity (http://faculty-gsb.stanford.edu/oyer/wp/luck.pdf). Therefore instead of wasting money on cash rewards try providing a memorable incentive travel that will instill a feeling of companionship and community. If you pay your employees more it doesn’t mean they will be more loyal to the company. If you take them on an incentive trip with team-oriented activities where they need to step out of their mental box and collaborate in a different way, they will surely change their way of thinking about your company.

Saying all this we believe every incentive or corporate travel needs to be unique, memorable and catered to your company needs. In order to make the most of your incentive, be sure to experience the best and most exciting activities each destination has to offer. Experience it to believe it and make your incentive something to remember!

2012 – The Year of the Smile

First of all I would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year.   In the past I had a tendency to delay the beginning of the year to February.  Main reason being is that my birthday falls in January and I used to find it difficult making resolutions and thinking about fresh starts…when all I was really wanting was to continue the celebrations.  Perhaps, coming to an age where one begins to forget how old one is, you begin to opt for more subdued birthdays.  This year, I am looking forward to sharing my first birthday with Henry, my new boy!   He gave me the best Christmas present I could have hoped for – a smile!!!

 

Therefore, I suppose I am conforming and yes have decided to make a few resolutions both on a personal and professional front.  Yep, there are the standard eat more healthily, exercise daily, watch less TV, read more blah blah but what excites me most about 2012 is a concerted effort to smile more.

 

Some year sago, a department store in New York City, in recognition of the pressures of its sales clerks were under during the Christmas rush, presented the following homely philosophy.

 

The Value of a smile at Christmas

 

It costs nothing, but creates much.

It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give.

It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.

None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits.

It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in a business, and is the countersign of friends.

It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and Nature’s best antidote for trouble.

Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anybody till it is given away.

And if in the last-minute rush of Christmas buying some of our salespeople should be too tired to give you a smile, may we ask you to leave one of yours?

For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give!

 

Lets not save up all our smiles for the festive period….no matter how austere, or troubled the world may become in 2012 it is so important that we keep smiling! 😉

 

The binge drinking generation is starting to grow up.

The media might have to re-look at the image they paint of groups of drunken men flying out on low cost airlines to places like Riga, Tallinn and Budapest for the weekend.
Instead of stag parties and sports tours spending their entire foreign sojourn sat in pubs and strip clubs the tide has turned with these groups now demanding something more meaningful and indeed, memorable from their trip.
If you visit Latvia you can experience the thrill of the bobsleigh (even during the summer), in Prague shoot an AK-47, in Budapest de-tox in a spa and wellness complex and in Tallinn play ice cricket.
The new generation of young men are interested in all kinds of adventures and experiences ranging from the bizarre, through activities such as Ice Fishing in Vilnius, to the high-class such as attending world-class opera at Riga’s National Opera House.

Every week Travel Out There delivers a whole host of interesting, strange and wonderful activities to foreign tourists in Europe. After all we are your number one experience agency! These people do not spend all their time sat in pubs and it is time the popular press realized this.

How to deal with illegal parking in the Baltics

Cycle count lanes in the Baltics are slowly popping up everywhere, however this seemingly new development is catching out drivers in the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. People here are used to some pretty chaotic driving and the prospect of now looking out for an increasing number of cyclists will no doubt cause a few more headaches. We all know that stopping to fix a slipped chain in a cycle lane is deemed offensive let alone parking your car in one.

In Vilnius, Lithuania that is precisely what happened. The Mayor of Vilnius and keen cyclist Arturas Zuokas took matters into his own hands when he came across an illegally parked car;

Mayor Arturas Zuokas in an armoured vehicle which is crushing a car in central Vilnius

Ok, so its all for a bit of publicity but also a serious warning to drivers who park in lanes reserved for cyclists. As the Baltics look at ways of preserving and showing their historic cities, without clogging up the streets with endless tourist buses its becoming clear that the use of bikes and other “green” transport such as Segways are becoming more and more popular…sorry car people this mean one thing, more cycle lanes and as a result less street parking, it might be time to buy yourself a little push bike for that short trip to work, if only for the summer months. You can reads the full story from BBC News here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14380367