Chapter1 - Walk around Vilnius
2005年 02月 10日
Lithuania has changed a lot in these 5 years. I walked around the center of Vilnius with my friends. They took me to a big shopping mall, kind of Åhléns type of department store, whose name is Europa which didn’t exist while I was staying in Lithuania. Then we went to the old town. I was expecting to visit my old favorite café near Vilnius University where I studied the Lithuanian language. The café had an historical court yard and the history goes back to the 16th century. I used to go to the café and in the summer I had a tea break there nearly every day. But I found that the café had disappeared and a new Italian restaurant was open there instead. Furthermore the supermarket I used to buy daily food went out of business.
Like that many of the shops which were familiar to me have gone. On the other hand I noticed that there were new coffee franchise shops and pizza chains expanded. The number of tourists has increased incredibly. The streets were flooded with tourists from Russia, Poland and other European countries. No wonder I couldn’t find any vacancy in hotels in Vilnius during the New Year holiday when I searched on the internet, though there would be no problem because I ordered a private room in my good friend’s place. Surprisingly I could even find guidebooks in Japanese in ordinary bookshops and tourist spots. It was not difficult at all that I found just after a half-day walk on the town that Lithuania was developing so quickly and the capital inflow into Lithuania from the West increased quite much. Five years of absence made the differences more clear to my eyes.
Six years ago I rented a room of an apartment in the old town which was owned by an old Polish woman. She had been staying in Vilnius since Vilnius was only one of the towns of Poland during World War Tow. She spoke only Polish and Russian and understood a tiny little Lithuanian. It was a little difficult to communicate with her. At the beginning I told her that I didn’t understand Polish and Russian at all then she responded to me with an angry tone “Why can’t you speak Russian! You are in Lithuania now!” Once she asked me where Japan was on the map. She had only an atlas of Europe and asked me to point to Japan. She was a person of a good example from the Soviet era. She was a little too old to adjust herself to the new era and lagged behind the current of the times. Her world was limited within Europe and she was still living in USSR in her mind. This time I visited this old apartment but a new lock which wasn’t there before was installed to the entrance door and I couldn’t go in. So I never knew if my old landlady was still living there or not.