Trakai Lithuania


Another struggle with jet lag today, but we made it out of the apartment by 3pm—a full hour earlier than yesterday. Small victory.

We visited a town about 15 miles out of Vilnius called Trakai. Trakai is a pretty town situated along several natural lakes in the area. Its main attraction is a castle built on an island in one of the lakes. Although it has had many renovations over the centuries, the first construction on the castle started way back in the 1300’s. Makes everything post-European invasion in the Americas seem quite young by comparison. It is several centuries newer than Mayan structures like Chichen Itza and a century or so older than the Incas’ Machu Picchu (thanks Wikipedia!). We toured the castle, walked around the town, ate some delicious pizza, and let Nolan spend some time wading among the lily pads in the lake hoping to catch something. He came up empty-handed.


By the way, Nolan lives to catch things. He’ll try to catch anything, but frogs, snakes, and lizards are the most highly prized. You can see some of his catches on his intsagram account, NolansCatchoftheDay.

Home schooling continues to be a struggle. I don’t want to be a teacher who singles out struggling students so I’ll keep things anonymous, but one of our first-grade pupils is having a pretty tough time. Attempts to write out the letters of the alphabet falls flat at “H”. The lesson goes something like this:

“What letter comes after G?”

“Um….um…….. a-b-c-d-e-f-g……um….um….a-b-c-d-e-f-g……a-b-c-d-e-f-g-gummy-bears-are-chasing-me.”

“That’s not a letter. What letter comes next after G?”


Apparently this rhyme he learned from a friend in pre-school (*cough*Caleb*cough*) has left the entire alphabet after the letter “G” a complete mystery. It only took us 90 minutes to get through writing each letter of the alphabet today. I think “gummy-bears-are-chasing-me” is going to be a hurdle again tomorrow.

But, thank goodness kids are resilient. After each parent in turn had compeletely run out of patience twice, he was back to smiles as soon as the lesson was over.

Here are a few photos from today.

Old Town Vilnius, Lithuania

After a night of little sleep thanks to the 9 hour time difference between here and home, and a struggle to get through the home school lesson, we finally made it out of our apartment in the late afternoon.

Old town Vilnius was beautiful. Cobblestone streets, gothic and baroque architecture, lots of small cafes and shops.

I tried the local specialty of cepelinai–“zeppelins” of heavy gelatinous potato dough stuffed with ground meat. Very filling. Very bland. Ashley tried a cold beetroot soup that had yogurt or kefir as a base. Very unusual for an American palate. The kids were happy with banana-filled crepes.

Sat in a park while our kids played around a marble fountain

Vilnius seems to be a pretty calm and clean city and people are quite friendly. So far, everyone I’ve talked to speaks Russian, so that’s been great for me.

The kids are thrilled with our accommodations. Jane has told me a dozen times that she would have no problem living here. Ashley and I are content, but the place I booked on AirBNB is certainly far from luxurious–but it does have running water and an indoor toilet.