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Uzupis means “on the other side of the river”. The neighborhood Uzupis was for a long time the poorhouse of Vilnius. Later, workers’ settlements emerged here until artists discovered the district for themselves. Today it is developing into a sought-after residential district. Since the artists declared it the independent Republic of Uzupis, it is also known by tourists.
Actually, we want to eat something in a restaurant on the banks of the Vilnia, but there Giedrius Jonaitis addresses us. He wants to show us a little about the Republic of Uzupis. Above all, he knows a very good place to eat, off the beaten path. We are curious and join him.
He accompanies us to the Šnekutis an original inexpensive restaurant with very good local cuisine. We could eat outside on a small terrace.
During the meal, he tells us a little bit about his life. He has a professorship at the College of Art, which at the time of our stay is resting due to illness. But he wanted to work on overcoming them and to return to his professorship.
Later he suggested to make a picture of Ursula. We agree and then go to “Upartas”. The carpenter workshop belongs to one of his friends, who produces picture frames for him. Here we learn that Giedrius is also called the father of Lithuanian banknotes, because he designed them. These were in circulation until the introduction of the Euro. As part of this activity Giedrius also visited Giesecke & Devrient in Munich once; the place where one prints the banknotes. In the workshop of “Upartas”, he also shows us some of his lithographs from earlier years. We really liked these.
We return to the center of Uzupis. Giedrius leads us into the backyard of a residential building. Some luxury cars park here, but he guides us via a wooden outside staircase to the first floor. The stairs are so dilapidated that we are afraid they might collapse. At the top, he introduces us to a friend. He lives here in two rooms without electricity and without water.
We stay only briefly. Then we go to the angel of Uzupis.
Next to it is a small original bar, the Spunka. Giedrius seems to know all the guests and of course the innkeeper. The bar is frequented only by locals. Some architects are among them but also a young man with a dark peaked cap. He is a well-known basketball player in Lithuania, who played for several years in the NFL.
After a short stay, we head back to our accommodation, the Rentida Apartments. It was an interesting look behind the scenes that are usually hidden from tourists. Even so, we have some doubts about the social system of Lithuania.
Next >>> In the old town of Vilnius
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