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Summary: Lithuania is located in eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Latvia and Russia, and is mostly lowland, with many scattered small lakes, and fertile soil. Foreign government and business support have helped in the transition from the old command economy to a market economy, based on agriculture and manufacturing and more privatized industries.
Time Zone: DST +0300 UTC
Languages: Lithuanian, Polish, Russian
Power: 220 V, 50 Hz
Currency: Litas - Currently 1 LTL = 0.4231 USD $
Climate: Depending on where you visit, you will see a transitional climate between maritime and continental. Typically, wet, moderate winters and summers.
Vilnius: With a funnelling of visitors and influences from Europe, Vilnius is one of the main Baltic capitals and has a good international feel. Some must-see destinations include the University of Vilnius, one of Europe's oldest, dating from 1579, Gediminas castle, named after a Lithuanian Grand Duke, and the baroque palaces and mansions in its historic old quarter. Otherwise, just put on your walking shoes and stroll around the Old Town area, with dozens of squares, some large like Cathedral Square, and some just small courtyards.
Kaunas: Situated in a river valley about 50 miles west of the capital, having been settled since the 5th century, Kaunas offers some unique sites including the Devils' Museum, Kaunas Castle, and the 1.6 km Laisves Aleja, or Liberty Avenue. Take a bus daytrip more than 90 miles north near Siauliai to the eerie Hill of Crosses, with mounds built with thousands of crosses and rosaries that date as far back as the 14th century.
Culture: Lithuanians have a strong sense of cultural pride, so travellers should observe the proper respect for their national heritage.
Beer: Local beers and meads are popular. Among the top brands are Utenos and Kalnapilis. Watch the alcohol content, though, as it can be higher than expected.
When To Visit: Spring and summer are good times to travel, but note that low-cost hotels will likely be booked up during the high summer months of July and August.
Food: Among traditional foods are cepelinai, a sort of potato-based stuffed dumplings, the ever-present black rye bread, and bulviniai blynai, potato-based pancakes. A good lunch can be bread with cold or hot beet soup.
Phrases: When toasting, locals say 'i sveikata', which translates literally as 'in your health'.
Tipping: Tips are automatically included in restaurant bills and taxi fares. On the rare occasion where it is not, between 10 and 15 percent is the standard amount.