BBI members seem to have been everywhere so I'm asking for any tips. Going on vacation at the end of the month, flying into Oslo (Got a cheap Norwegian Air flight ) and spending two days there before heading to Tallinn Estonia. Will prob take the ferry over and spend a day in Helsinki then heading to Riga and finally Vilnius. Any recommendations for these cities? Places I should definitely eat or get a drink? Thanks in advance.
Tallinn and it's old town section is the prettiest of the three. I don't have many good food and drink recommendations since it was so long ago bu I do remember this Irish pub called Hell Hunt that was fun. A bunch of drunken Finns singing Irish folk songs. Riga is the least attractive it had a very urban Soviet feel to it. That probably has changed a little but my work colleages who still go there say it's still accurate. Lithuania is very rural. Vilnius is my favorite because for me it has the most interesting history, especially regarding the Soviet occupation. It's not in Vilnius but the most interesting site in Lithuania is the Hill of Crosses in Siauliai. It's amazing. It takes a little extra effort to get to but it's doable if you have the time. Below is a Wikipedia entry on the hill. Crosses
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I hope you like seafood because they eat a lot of it.
Perhaps to make you appreciate Norway?
Looking forward to hearing about Riga, Tallinn, and Vilnius as I've heard they are great from other travelers.
Oslo...two days is more than enough. You can do the city in a day imo. If you'd like to see viking longboats, the Viking Ship museum is pretty cool. If you want to see some freaky statues, Vigeland Park is a nice walk. If you're into Edvard Munch's work, Oslo is the right town. Other than that, prepare to have your wallet sodomized.
To me Norway is mainly worth visiting for the natural beauty. If you can squeeze in a day trip to Priekestolen via Stavanger, that would be worthwhile.
From Leningrad was like entering civilization.
Don't eat the Norwegian food. But great ethnic restaurants if you look for them.
Just a great city to walk around. Doesn't have the "great hits" of some other places but I found it very enjoyable.
My one bit of advice: everything in the main part of the city is walkable so don't get hung up on the location of your hotel.
to eat in Riga is an outdoor site called "No Problem" right by the main area. When I was there, they had someone playing guitar and it was a really easy casual place with good casual food. You may notice that the girls in Riga are absolutely stunning. I was sitting with my wife at dinner and noticed that every women there was blonde and stunning. My wife noticed the same thing. I think its the Nordic and Baltic genetics. Truly stunning in mass.
Very nice, reminded us of the Adirondacks. The highlight of our trip was taking a train to St. Petersburg, needed a visa.
We went with a tour group and it was terrific. Outside out hotel in the middle of a field was a bunker from WW2 - the 900 day siege.
Women there were really attractive. Finland, not so much.
and I've been there with her to visit her family.. haven't spent much time in Vilnius, mostly Kaunas. I visited Vilnius around a similar time last year, and there was a folk/street festival which was cool -- a bunch of booths with local crafts and foods.
In Vilnius there's a TV tower that was the stage of an uprising at the fall of communism. You can go to the top to see the city and then the huge forests that surround it. There's a castle on a hill (Gediminas'?) in the center of the city that you can walk up. It's not steep, but there's an elevator up as well. There's also old town which will have medieval architecture. Not far outside of the city there's another castle called Trakai which was nice to visit. It's on an island and the area itself is well kept.
Some foods that are must tries in Lithuania, for the full experience: Saltibarscai [cold beetroot soup], Kibinai [savory pastries], Cepelinai [potato dumplings], cold Gira [Kvass; fermented drink]. Unfortunately we've found quality varies between restaurants.
For dessert: Skruzdelynas [thin dough, deep fried, covered in honey and some poppy seeds], šakotis [baked batter, kind of like cookies but in a single tower piece] and šimtalapis [crispy+buttery pastry with sugary poppy seed filling]
I'd also recommend spending 15 minutes to check out a Lidl, Iki, Maxima, Rimi (or any grocery store) to get some snacks like Kabanosy [sausage], spiced+coated peanuts, Surelis [quark dessert bars]... and of course whatever piques your interest. It's all affordable.
For souvenirs, get stuff with amber. You can also get a lot of handmade goods for cheap.
Also: we've taken similar flights with Norwegian (BOS-OSL-VNO, then VNO-OSL-JFK return). Norwegian's customer service is awful (re: lost and damaged luggage). Our lost piece of luggage was returned to us 8 days late and damaged. Customer services takes 2 weeks between replies and offers no recompense.
Also, make sure your carry-on are within their specs. At least 15-20 people were charged $35 and had to gate check their carry on on the departing flight
Thanks everyone for all the insight so far. J, I will definitely try to taste all of those foods you mentioned.
Try to catch a glimpse of the Red October before she sets out
that might appear to be a tourist trap in that it has a medieval theme. But this isn't like eating eating at Medieval Times or something -- the food is legitimately awesome.
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...or a yarmulke and be careful not to say things like "oy vey" or "schlep" .