March 2020

Arrival in Vilnius

We arrive in Vilnius in the beginning of the day and got intrigued by a huge building in construction and decided to go check it out. It was the construction of the National Stadium which, apparently, has been that way since 1987! Not really in a hurry, we walked under the fence and explore that abandoned site, climbed some improvised ladders and had fun before heading back to the car.

“The project for the stadium was prepared by architect Algimantas Nasvytis in 1985. The construction started in 1987, but stopped due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Construction works were fully terminated in 1993. In 2006, the government of Lithuania declared the stadium an object of national importance and arranged new contractors. The work resumed in February 2008, but was abandoned in late 2008 due to lack of funds and corruption allegations. The works cost about LTL 29 million. In November 2009, the Supreme Court of Lithuania annulled the construction contracts.”


“New round of preparations started in May 2013. At the time, the Minister of Interior, Dailis Alfonsas Barakauskas, said that it was expected to be finished by 2016 at a cost of around EUR 78 million. In March 2014, the government decided to utilize the public–private partnership model and to request funding from the European Union. A call for bids was announced in September 2016. Two proposals were received by the December 2017 deadline. The lower-cost proposal was dismissed as inappropriate causing a lawsuit. The Supreme Court ruled that the dismissal was lawful in August 2019. Axis Industries, owned by UAB ICOR, was ultimately selected as the builder. The government obtained funds from the European Union but was forced to divert them to other projects due to the delays. Therefore, the project will be financed by the government of Lithuania and by the Vilnius City Municipality. The government approved a 25-year financing by a private equity fund in December 2019. The government agreed to pay the total of EUR 156 million (principal of EUR 93.2 million with interest of 6.87%). The government of Lithuania agreed to cover EUR 54.5 million, while Vilnius City Municipality will pay a total of 101.5 million. However, in May 2020, the Public Procurement Office blocked the concession contract ruling that the government assumed too much risk for the project. This effectively cancelled the project, unless the city municipality successfully appeals the decision to court.”


A day in Vilnius

Randomly, we were visiting Vilnius on the day of the Independence Day! The town was so animated: there were markets all around, concerts, games, dances, it was lovely! For once in this trip, we decided to simply walk around casually without a proper map, and to let ourselves wander.


We started in the artistic district Uzupio (“beyond the river”) located above the river Vilnele. This small district started in 1980 when artists began to settle there in small wooden cottages and developed their own organization. Now, Uzopio has it’s own constitution, a National anthem, a flag for each season of the year and a national holiday on April’s Fool. This place is full of character and uniqueness, decorated with street art from the ground to the roof, added with wild gardens and colours that brighten the day!

“Everyone has the right to live by the River Vilnele,’ proclaimed the Uzupians, ‘and the River Vilnele has the right to flow by everyone. Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation. Everyone has the right to idle. Everyone has the right to celebrate or not celebrate their birthday. Everyone has the right to love and take care of the cat. A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in times of need.”

Uzopian Constitution

Lithuanian Wanderlust

From there, the rest of the walk is kind of a blurr, we bought some sausage on the market, tried a cake slice in a lovely bakery, talked with drunk men in a bar, took a lot of photos of the architecture before heading for a delicious diner at the Artistai Klubas. I know you guys are used to me giving way more details to my capital’s explorations, but I must admit that I got carried away by the Independence Day festivities and forgot a bit where I was.

It’s okay to let go sometimes! (never thought I would say that!)

The diner was delicious and we realized how lucky we were to have gotten a table: It was packed! And they were only big groups gathering around lively tables and having the best time! I loved the atmosphere and the happiness of that evening and will remember it forever.