bespoke biking

vilnius, lithuania

vilnius is optimized for biking, with wide sidewalks and streets and dedicated bike paths

and you see so many things missed in a car...this a tattoo parlour.

and with a drop of your kickstand, there is art to see everywhere

almost half of vilnius is covered by green...parks, gardens and nature reserves

find your path by the 28 churches in vilnius old town

cathedral square

where else a statue of a hero not on his horse? Lithuania founder Gediminas was more a diplomat than a fighter

wheel by "The Three Muses” which crown the main entrance to the National Drama Theatre

spin by a statue to Frank Zappa. why is he here? the absurd has voice here

and you can pass through the Republic of Užupis, an artists' quarter that declared independence in 1997

it has its own president, anthem and constituion

vilnius has talking statues. swipe smart phone and listen. this is Tsemakh Shabad, legendary charitable Jewish doctor

Known as the “Jerusalem of the North” before WW II, Vilnius was a hub of Jewish cultural and religious life; home to hundreds of Jewish social, educational, arts and scientific organisations.

there were over 110 synagogues and about 100,000 Jews in Vilnius, about 45% of the population

During the German occupation, about 95% of Lithuanian Jewry was killed (a greater percentage than in any other community in Europe),

today there are about 2000 Jews in all Lithuania

the river bike path passes a monument to Consul Chiune Sugihara, Japan's Schindler...

In 1939, as the Nazis invaded, Consul Sugihara issued Jews thousands of transit visas, allowing passage to refuge around the globe. He wrote hundreds of visas a day, working 20-hour days until his forced departure. Even as he boarded the train, Sugihara was still signing documents and throwing them out the window. It is estimated that the descendants of the Sugihara Visa survivors exceed 40,000.

so many museums. this the KGB museum, filled with secrets and horrors. kill room in the basement.

get off the bike and step in the Footprints of Freedom. in 1989 2 million people joined hands to form a 700 kilometer human chain spanning the Baltic states demonstrating for independence from the Soviet Union. not long after, they got it

so much past tragedy. but today melancholy is incompatable with cyclingit

and there is always time to stop for a Lithuanian beer or three

children roll with the good times

dark days are gone and the bright days are here

make a right turn, and you are transported to Tibet

and if you bike 1st week of July, you will pass thousands celebrating the Song and Dance Festival

a land of tolerance and diversity today, ethnic groups gather to celebrate their roots

if lucky enough to bike during the once-every-four-years festival at Vingis Park, you will see this:

over 10,000 dancers

and over 15,000 singers

and then, on July 6, at precisely 9 pm, all the lithuanians in the world, some 4 million voices, sing in unison the national anthem. not a dry eye in house.

then it's quiet outside the park, but biking here is life with the volume turned up

and anything on 2 wheels moves the soul

see the heart-shaped skid marks around the helmet? they love biking here, even when it hurts

only good cyclepaths here