One day I jumped on a bus. Luckily I bought a ticket because the "ticket police" jumped on to verify that everyone had a ticket. I got nervous, but my ticket was good.
I arrived in Vilnius, Lithuania by overnight train from Riga, Latvia. I found a medieval city with incredible architecture and a strong Roman Catholic influence. Vilnius is designed for walking. I enjoyed the old parts and some of the new. The old town is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I found a $10 per night hotel near the train station, where I would be leaving by train to Warsaw, Poland. Not sure how many nights I stayed in Vilnius, but it was probably just one. Just down from my hotel was an intersection that had various markets and cafes. I finally got up the nerve to go all by myself into a pretty classy restaurant. While eating some local cuisine, I got my kicks from eavesdropping on a young couple I presumed was from the states. When you're dining all alone, in a foreign land, your brain plays some tricks on you. Perhaps you simply get really tuned into your senses - the listening, the observing, the smelling. In the restaurant, I also took note of a very interesting wedding party that was going on. Another day in Vilnius, I walked through a corridor and into a courtyard, where there was a beautiful park. I sat on an old bench - the paint was peeling - and pulled out a book from my backpack to read. I observed pigeons flying in and out, perhaps searching for food and more likely just some green space in the city. Later in the day, I walked to a hotel overlooking the river Neris. Perhaps I was on the march for another USA Today newspaper! I do remember thinking of the basketball players Sabonis and Marčiulionis, who both starred on the USSR national team and later played in the NBA. I had become even more interested in the NBA because Michael Jordan had just recently come out of retirement. Finally, one evening, either in Vilnius or back in Tallinn, where I had stayed a night or two, I wandered into a bar - I think, in a hotel. I sat at the bar and ordered a coffee drink that sounded more like a dessert. It was a actually a coffee liqueur drink. And I wasn't expecting it to have alcohol in it. I didn't like it.
The fact I stayed one night or two in Vilnius gave me the energy and focus to plan my journey on to Warsaw, Poland. And then after Warsaw, on to Prague (Czech Republic), where I would meet Uncle Jim at the airport.