On the edge of Europe (but still in Europe’s heartland somehow), lies the country we all know as Belarus. Widely regarded as Europe’s last dictatorship, it is ruled by president Lukashenko, who has been in office since 1994. Unlike its neighbouring countries Lithuania and Ukraine, Belarus has been looking east rather than west after the Berlin Wall fell. It still holds good relations with Russia and even has a border treaty with them (meaning that there are no customs controls on the Belarus/Russia border).
Imagine a cave, deep – so deep that sunlight can’t protrude into the cave, big – so big that multiple people would be able to occupy the cave, moist – so moist that water is dripping from the rocks, and inhabited by bats – so many bats that killing a lot of them wouldn’t lead the bats into extinction.
Now imagine we place a young man is placed inside the cave. The only things the man knows, are the things that exist in the cave. The man doesn’t know of the outside world.
Cramped in between Latvia, Belarus, Poland and the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast, lies the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublika). Once part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, it is now reduced to a country of about the size of the Czech Republic.
It is in this country, that the most recent of my travels started. A plane from Estonian Airlines flew me from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Vilnius Airport. Vilnius is the capital of this interesting country and I’ll now tell you more about it. Read the rest of this entry »