Inside the European Union there are no border controls to speak of and we soon rolled through the Lithuanian countryside, the weather improving by the hour. Lunch was prepared at the Hill of Crosses, where literally hundreds of thousands of crosses large and small have been erected. How the tradition came about is unknown, but during the Soviet occupation, it became a site of remembrance of those who had been deported and killed, as well as symbolising the identity, religion and heritage of the people. The hill was bulldozed at least three times but crosses kept appearing in acts of defiance and resistance.
This wasn't my first visit to Vilnius, either, and I love the charming and not overly touristic Old Town with its cobbled, winding streets, a multitude of churches and something unexpected at every turn. At one end of the Old Town is the The Gate of Dawn, with the chapel of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn inside, and the other one is by the Cathedral Square where the main shopping street Gediminas Avenue starts. I walked to the infamous KGB headquarters where the Museum for Genocide Victims presents the horryfying history of life under the occupation with the shadow of the KGB hanging over the population, using surveillance, infiltration and torture of dissidents and undesirable elements. As I'd already visited the museum and didn't care for a repetition of the suppressive atmosphere and the chilling prison cells and interrogation chambers, not to mention the dungeon where executions took place, I took a break in a cat café. There a dozen stray cats have been given a home and guests can adore them and, cats willing, pet them. The proceeds from the café also cover food and supplies for the cats, so why not enjoy a PurrBurger, a Cattuccino or Latte-Catte, or a glass of Gato Negro?