We arrived in Vilnius, Lithuania last night after a four hour bus ride from Riga, Latvia. Finding our appartment was relatively easy as we decided to exit the bus station from the main entrance rather than the back way out. This may sound like an obvious strategy, but during our travels, we have discovered that we have an odd tendency to use back entrances, e.g we exit bus stations via less apparent paths and, when sightseeing, we often seem to approach key landmarks from their rear, thus not viewing them in their full glory at first and we have a slight delayed reaction of realising that we have actually reached the intended sight!
Today has been a wet day in Vilnius so we have walked less than our usual day’s quota of steps on a first day in a new city. Instead, we visited two museums, each distinct from the other: first the ‘Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights’ and then the ‘Vilnius Museum of Illusions’. In fact, you couldn’t get two more dissimilar museums.
Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights
Set in the very building of the former KGB headquarters, this museum was a stark reminder of Soviet occupation in Lithuania. When entering the actual cells of the former KGB prison, little was left to the imagination particularly where death sentences were carried out.
What stood out to me was the reminder of how recently Lithuanian independence was achieved – in 1990. It was thought-provoking to consider what my life was like growing up compared to what someone of a similar age in Lithuania may have experienced under Soviet occupation.
Vilnius Museum of Illusions
This museum was a fun surprise: there were more optical illusions than initially perceived and you can play at your leisure! A brief explanation accompanies each illusion, where visitors are encouraged to discover the sensory exhibits for themselves.
You can spend time trying to understand the science behind the illusion (and if you choose, there are enthusiastic employees on hand to explain things) or you can just have fun playing around with the illusions and taking pics of yourself in wierd and wonderful ways!
So what to do on a rainy day in Vilnius? Try these two museums. In walking distance from each other, they are both definitely worth a visit whatever the weather.