Left Alone in Vilnius


Vilnius, Lithuania – August 2008

One block off the beaten tourist path of Pilies Street and I am alone. The din of restaurants and souvenir shops and tour groups fades. The only noise is that of my shoes echoing on the cobblestone. I look up at the crumbling walls and smile with relief.

I peer into grimy shards that were once windows. They reflect the cracks that have begun to show in my own facade. How did I manage to live this long?


I stop in front of an old church that’s closed for restoration. At first glance, the walls seem bare. Then my eyes pick up the faint, spectral outlines of faded frescoes. I contemplate that which has been chipped away, slowly, by time. This is more intriguing to me than empty spaces filled in, rough edges polished over, flaws erased. There is no mystery in perfection.


For a long while, I wander these silent streets. They are not so much neglected as left alone. There is a story behind each exposed brick and shattered window pane. I open my ears and listen to them speak.

Certain life events can leave a rift down to one’s very foundation. It is beyond repair. There are two choices one can make: try to remain standing for as long as possible or succumb to total demolition.


Every so often, a burst of color appears.


Decay and beauty in harmony.


10 thoughts on “Left Alone in Vilnius

  1. I wonder how long these side streets will remain quiet for? I can see Vilnius getting a lot more tourists in the next few years as people decide Prague/Tallinn/Wroclaw are too busy.

  2. Excellent photos and narrative – “There is no mystery in perfection” – absolutely right. Many restoration projects (particularly in the UK) are just too pristine – e.g. give me the rough edges of Rome over London any day.

  3. Another post filled with treasures!

    “The din of restaurants and souvenir shops and tour groups fades.” I love this sentence – it marks the genesis of the real adventure; the moment when you know that there is freedom in solitude.”How did I manage to live this long?” Ah…that is the mystery.

    “I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.” Albert Einstein

    • And as usual, you totally get what I’m trying to say. Love the quote from Einstein. The more I learn about him as a human (rather than as an inventor) the more I’m impressed.

  4. Just back from Vilnius, tracked down that archway from your photo – the clue is the bar sign. Thanks for sharing this, its a beautiful street. A wonderful city to wander around, still lots of quiet backstreets.

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