DURING the October break we went on a week long trip to Lithuania and loved exploring the cities, Kaunas and the capital Vilnius as well as the former capital Trakai.
These amazing colourful wooden houses in Trakai transported us all back to Finland as did the silver birch trees, lush forests and clear lakes.
Here is Malika enjoying a cold, morning walk back from the castle of Trakai.
And inside the cosy hotel we stayed in right on the lakeside...
There are regular buses to Trakai from Vilnius and the tickets are just over one euro single. Don't you think our bus driver looks like Putin?
We thought so anyway!
Here lies the edge of Vilnius old town, by the bus and train stations. Vilnius has amazing street art all over the city and this yellow faced guy was one of our favourites.
Vilnius is such a beautiful city in autumn time and Ameenah and Malika loved nothing more than running and jumping in huge piles of freshly swept leaves.
This one stands on a triangular square where Pilies Street turns into Didzioji Street and according to tradition was built on a Pagan sanctuary for one of the gods.
And the TV Tower! Malika and Ameenah loved driving through Vilnius late at night and eating black bread and Lithuanian hard cheese in the revolving restaurant at the TV Tower.
The TV Tower has such a fascinating history as it was the symbol for the Lithuanian struggle for freedom. On January 13, 1991, Soviet troops attempted to overthrow the Lithuanian government attempting to secede from the Soviet Union. During the attack to seize the TV Tower in Vilnius to create a media blackout, Soviet special forces killed 14 and injured over 700 unarmed Lithuanian citizens serving as human shields.
And the food in Lithuania was absolutely incredible...Autumn red currants, forest mushrooms, hard Lithuanian sheep and goat cheeses, black bread, rye bread, potato dumplings called zeppelins, fermented bread beer called Kvass, picked herring, beetroot soup with hard boiled egg and hot potatoes.....and a three course meal of superb food in a restaurant costs on average 5 euros....
We were really lucky to stay beside this food market Hales Turges, which sold an array of wonderful, fresh local produce...The market is the oldest and largest in Vilnius and was constructed in 1906 by the famous architect and engineer Vaclovas Michnevicius.
The National Art Gallery in Vilnius, formerly housed the Museum of the Revolution and this amazing Soviet modernist building was built in the 1980's...
Autumn was such a beautiful time to see Vilnius...
Part of the tour took us to Malunu Street and we discovered that No.3 Malunu Street was the home of the largest nunnery in Vilnius and homed Bernadine Sisters.
Beside the monument of Adomas, is the famous St Ann's Church which was built in the late Gothic style (1600). It is famous for its harmonious grace and beauty and they say that Napoleon wanted to put it on his palm and carry it over to Paris.
The girls loved this wire heart sculpture inside the church covered with small origami birds.
Whilst on our trail across town we also explored the independent Republic of Uzupis, which was declared independent in 1997, and the area now has its own flag, constitution, president, cabinet of ministers, an anthem and an army!
The wondrous constitution from the Republic of Uzupis!
The girls loved the children's restaurant Kuku Muku (http://www.kukumuku.lt/en/) which was in the centre of the Old Town and featured face painters, a great menu, children's clothes shop and space for fashion shows!
I would love to travel on Rail Baltica from Warsaw, via Riga, back up to dear old Helsinki, the capital of Finland....
The train is cheap and efficient although the girls really missed the children's carriage that we found on most trains in Finland....
We also spent a morning in the Mykolas Žilinskas Art Gallery in Kaunas, and the girls really enjoyed looking at this artwork by Nick Darmstaedter, an artist from a Brooklyn collective in NYC. This exhibition was part of the Kaunas Biennial whcih runs until the end of December 2015.
And a final few of us enjoying cafe life in Kaunas despite the chilly temperature!
Ryan Air fly to Vilnius directly from Edinburgh Airport and prices start from £14.99 one way...