9/12/10

Another Walk In Vilnius

Hill of Three Crosses lords it over Old Town

It's our last day in Vilnius and we have a train to catch in about four hours. However, when I opened our hotel room window early in the morning, the distant sight of the Hill of Three Crosses was beckoning me to come. Set on a wooded park up on the hill overlooking Vilnius, I realize this would make for a good walk. Erwin, my traveling buddy, still wanted to sleep so I went by myself.

Welcome to the Republic Of Užupis

Talk about serendipity. In my quest for the three crosses, I followed what I believed was the shortest route when I stumbled upon this bridge with a sign that says I'm about to enter Užupis, a quirky neighborhood just across the Vilnia River. During April Fool's Day in 1997, its bohemian residents of mostly artists declared this part of the city as an independent Republic of Užupis, with their own flag, currency and even a constitution (that guarantees "A dog has the right to be a dog" and "People have the right to have no rights" among others). Naturally, April 1 is their National Day.

Eternal love -  in padlocks

It's not only artists who make their mark in Uzupis. Many lovers engrave each other's names on padlocks, hang them on the rails of Uzupis Bridge and throw the key to the river - supposedly a sign of each other's commitment that leads hopefully to a blissful marriage. The sheer number of padlocks hanging on this bridge tells me that padlocks are a hot commodity in Vilnius - at least among its young lovers.

What's up Lithuania?
Fido takes a morning bath

From Uzupis, I continued walking, emerging into a park but then I felt unsure which way I should be going. A young local came to my rescue - he was walking in the same direction I was heading and so we walked together following the course of Vilnia River while my inquisitive mind peppered him with questions about life in Vilnius. Standing on the riverbank, I was amused to find man's best friend enjoying an early morning dip.


My new-found friend and I began walking up the hill until we reached a fork where we parted ways - but not after he pointed to me where the trail to the Three Crosses start. I walked past an amphitheater and enjoyed my solitude in this wooded environment. What added beauty were daisies abloom everywhere.

The view from the hill

According to local folklore, this is the site where seven Franciscan monks were crucified. The original three crosses built in 1916 were torn down by the Soviets in 1950 and rebuilt only in 1989. Part of the 61-hectare Kalnai Park, the crosses have a commanding view of Vilnius' Old Town down below. And just like our visit to Gediminas Castle Tower, its hilltop location means I would have to walk down and walk back to the hotel. Fast. Or else, we'll miss the train.

17 comments:

  1. Russians are romatinc, and for sure papatok din dito yang padlock and throw the key thing. hehe

    Another lovely site. at ang ganda ng bokeh shots.

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  2. wow wow wow wow wow... damn i so wanna follow your itinerary...lazy to plan my own itinerary... lol

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  3. i agree with chyng, dennis. that padlock and throw away the key thing is sweet! hopeless romantic kasi pinoy (including me but not-so-my-wife! *she'll kill me for this*).

    nice take on those padlocks. i love your shots as always.

    mabuti na lang naglakad ka para hanapin iyong 3 crosses even without your travel buddy.

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  4. Ganda ng concept ng padlock love. :) I think it is amazing to frame in one shot several bell towers.

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  5. Chyng,
    So true, patok na patok ito sa mga romantic na Pinoy. Saan kayang tulay sa Maynila ideal for this? Sana malinis naman yung ilog para di naman murky yung future ng mga lovers LOL!

    Fufu,
    When you go back to Germany you can certainly do this, perhaps start in next door Poland and then on to the Baltic states.

    Doc Gelo,
    Sa dami ng romantic at sentimental na Pinoy, kagat na kagat talaga ito. Lalo na siguro pagdating ng Valentines Day. As for Tina, I'm sure your wife expresses her romanticism in her own unique way.

    Witsandnuts,
    Indeed, I found it very interesting and so romantic. Baka may susunod na nito sa Maynila - that is, kapag nalinis na yung Pasig. LOL.

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  6. I loved that idea about the padlock: I've heard about it in other cultures too. Tiziano Ferro (an Italian singer) has a single entitled "Ti scattero una foto" whose video features one such collection of padlocks in Italy perhaps. And I believe that in some previous season of The Amazing Race, the racers in China had to open one of the padlocks to proceed.

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  7. heya.... ur photos are incredibly sharp.. u mentioned that u only use 1 prime lens with ur d80. which lens is that? :)

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  8. Linguist,
    I was also trying to remember an episode of the Amazing Race where I thought I did see something similar but couldn't be so sure what country it was. Like everyone else who commented above, the padlock thing is indeed fascinating.

    Lechua,
    Thanks! Besides the kit lens that came with my D80, I use a Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 - it's really handy for low light, very fast, and affordable.

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  9. Nice daily life views... looks like such a peaceful place.

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  10. Is this where all the padlocks are? Or this is another one of those places with padlocks?

    I enjoy your photo walks. You seem to find the best places and the most interesting items in your walks. Is Serendipity your middle name?

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  11. amazing photos, sir. thanks for sharing!

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  12. I also imagine myself being old and what better fashion to spent old age than sitting on the bench with those trees and green grass, reading the newspaper while the birds are chirping. hays

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  13. Sidney,
    It was early in the morning I was there thus the tranquil mood.

    Photo Cache,
    hahaha! I think most of us travelers have Serendipity for a middle name. I'm sure you can relate based on your own experiences.
    As for the padlocks, someone did mention there are other places but just can't be sure if they're meant for lovers like the one in Uzupis bridge.

    Z,
    it's my pleasure to share. thanks also!

    Pusang Kalye,
    that's probably what I'll end up doing in old age too, hehehe!

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  14. wow! i could imagine myself reading a good book, listening to twee pop on my ipod, whiling a lazy afternoon in that park!

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  15. Hi. Should i say that your photos are great? :D And all your journeys are fantastic (especially in S. America)? :D.
    Regarding padlocks - they are on every bridge, just this one is short, so there's not so much free space. Secondly, the groom traditionally must carry the bride on his hands asross the bridge, so this bridge is short, so it's easier to carry :D . So this bridge is popular at this point. On the other hand, the longer the bridge - the harder effort, and it serves as an evidence of "stronger love" :D. Just the padlocks are not that noticable on the bigger bridges.

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  16. Nomadic Pinoy: i have been reading and asking around on this 35mm f1.8 lens ALOT... heard great stuff about it. actually for outdoors in light, the tamron doesn't really give me the results i want compared to e.g. my current 50mm f1.8. did some tests between the two lens and find that at the same focal length and aperture, the shutter speed that is autoset (i use aperture mode for kids) for the tamron is not too accurate - tend to get overexposure and less sharp shots. the only drawback is the non-zoom part. and u survive purely on just 1 lens for travel - amazing!

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  17. PinayTravelJunkie,
    For a city park, it was very relaxing the time I was there, not much people. Behind that bench where the old lady sat is Vilnia river.

    trikipiki,
    Thanks for the compliments! and thank you for the additional info regarding the padlocks - I didn't know about the groom having to carry the bride but that must be a sight watching them!

    lechua,
    I actually brought the D80 kits lens as well and used both in the trip. It would be too difficult getting wide angle shots of the big churches with just the 35mm. BTW, I used to own the Nikkor 50mm f1.8 but I traded it for the 35mm as soon as it came out. Never regretted buying this lens.

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