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The New York Times published a glossy video and article about the wonders of Vilnius, from history lessons to traditional tastes like a zeppelin. The result reads like a siren call for tourists to visit Lithuania’s capital, with a timeframe and map offering all a visitor might need for a short stay.

Published in Travel

European travel search engine GoEuro has listed and rated passports from 51 nations to uncover which nationalities' passports are the most useful when it comes to travel. Lithuanian passports have made the top 35 most powerful passports in the world list, sneaking in at number 32.

Published in Travel
Friday, 17 April 2015 18:15

Vilnius is on sale for Summer travel

For the first time in more than a decade, the euro is almost equal in value to the dollar, making Europe cheaper to Americans than it's been in a long time. The time to go to Europe is now!  Lithuania which joined the euro zone at the start of 2015 is the perfect destination to enjoy the ride of the dollar. Moreover, PriceofTravel.com found that Vilnius is one of the cheapest cities in Europe for budget-minded travelers.

Published in Travel

Scenery and beauty of Lithuania’s Curonian Spit are being featured by the Associated Press and reposted by a number of online publications, highlighting the potential for the tourism to grow here.

Published in Travel

Lithuania has been named one of the top countries in the world to visit in 2015 by travel guide Lonely Planet. It was voted third best country to head to, behind Singapore which took the top spot and Namibia which came second.

Published in Travel

There are few things that can change your travel experience from ordinary to extraordinary.  The list includes making friends with local people who will be more than happy to show you the real life in that country and of course eating authentic local food.

Those two should be on every travellers 'To Do' list while on the road.

Resent research about traveling trends presents that 78% of Gen-Y travellers are looking for more individual and authentic experience and want to learn new things while traveling.

PlateCulture is a company started by a team of Lithuanians who redefined urban traveling and helps to make the best out of your limited time in new city.

PlateCulture is a marketplace that connects people who love cooking and hosting dinners with those who love eating authentic home cooked meal while traveling in new places. Each dinner is a unique experience where people share food, learn new things and build friendships all over the world.

Both of us co-founders, Reda Stare and Audra Pakalnyte,  are avid travellers and foodies who have strong passion discovering the world through the kitchen.

The idea of starting PlateCulture was sparked through one of the long conversations about best travel experiences. We both agreed that the most memorable ones are when get to go off tourist beaten tracks and head to city suburbs, meet local people and enjoy real authentic local cuisine at somebodies house. 

One of our latest travels to Thailand gave a good picture of what we got inspired about: when you view Thai cuisine, you only know several dishes such as Pad Thai noodles or Tom Yum, but there are more to that that defines Thai cuisine altogether.  So we had the privilege of dining at a house of the locals where what was served was a plethora of dishes that you don’t get at the restaurants. As we ate the most exquisite Thai cuisine, the fantastic conversations that followed added to the overall experience. We thought, isn’t this brilliant – the breakdown of cultural barriers through authentic culinary experience and meaningful conversations? 

PlateCulture is essentially a platform of convergence for people – be it the locals or tourists visiting the country – to enhance their life experiences through food.

For Hosts it an opportunity to fulfil dreams of owning a restaurant, without actually having to own a restaurant and for Guests it’s an opportunity to get intimate, authentic experience of enjoying home-cooked meals representative of the Hosts’ own heritage and culinary skills.

Until today we are operating in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a remote technical team in Vilnius, Lithuania. Our next steps are to expand to major cities in India, Thailand and Vietnam; other Asian countries will follow later in the year.

Published in MALAYSIA

The Travel section of The New York Times published “The 46 Places to Go in 2013″ last weekend.

One of the hottest places to visit is Lithuania, according to the paper.

Published in Travel

I think everyone will agree that for Lithuania to be one of the world's great beer cultures is a bit surprising. For years I've been wondering why this would be, and now I'm finally in a position to propose an answer. And it is really a bit of a puzzler. Right north of the border is Latvia, where they speak a related language, and share the same Soviet heritage, but not the beer culture. Why?

Clearly, the stagnation, isolation, and general backwardness of the Soviet system must have done much to preserve traditional brewing practices. It can't be the whole answer, however. Norway and Finland have preserved traditional brewing, without having ever been communist. Fragments survive in Estonia and Latvia, too, but Lithuania has a far stronger beer culture than all of these countries. Again, why?

Let's start in 1945. At this point, all the Baltic countries have been annexed into the Soviet Union. However, they are not the same, for reasons I explain in my short history of the Baltic countries. Those differences turn out to be important.

Firstly, at this point (1945), Latvia was much more industrialized than Lithuania. Traditional brewing is usually associated with farming, so it's likely that this meant that traditional beer culture was already much weaker than in Lithuania. Further, since Latvia had a Baltic German ruling elite, bigger breweries would predominantly be owned by ethnic Germans and therefore would likely brew in the German tradition.

Secondly, the Lithuanian Soviet Republic was run by the Lithuanians themselves to a much greater degree than in Estonia and Latvia. Many Lithuanians have told me that in Latvia the Soviets destroyed traditional brewing culture, but in Lithuania they unofficially accepted it. That fits fairly well with written material I've seen from various places. Atis from Latvia also blamed the Soviets for destroying traditional Latvian brewing.

Thirdly, Lithuania did not see the same influx of Russian immigrants that Latvia and Estonia did, and that will have helped, too. Russians eventually came to make up the majority of the population of Latvia and Estonia, and it's clear that this will have damaged brewing culture dramatically, too. In Lithuania Russians never made up more than 10% of the population.

As you see from what I wrote on traditional Nordic beer, traditional brewing dies by degrees. Traditional ingredients, methods, and ways of thinking disappear one by one, until ultimately people are brewing with international malt, pharmacy hops, and baking yeast, and the tradition is dead.

Different countries have progressed along this scale to different degrees. Lithuania hasn't really taken the first step. Norway and Finland have taken a couple, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia a couple more, and Denmark has gone all the way. From what I'm told, the tradition is not completely dead in Latvia (and in Saaremaa in Estonia the kooduolut still lives), it's just much, much weaker than in Lithuania.

Thus far, I think I've explained how the tradition stayed alive into Soviet times. From reading about the breweries it's clear that in the Soviet period many of the home brewers expanded their operations beyond simple home brewing, and started producing beer for sale. This would be for occasions like weddings, funerals, and for state officials. It's not clear whether this was entirely legal (surely it must have counted as private enterprise), but it seems to have been tacitly accepted, as Lithuanians were saying.

Why does Lithuania have such a great beer culture?

Traditional homebrewing methods do not scale well. They are highly labour-intensive, and the equipment used is not designed for scale.

Under the Soviet system, it was impossible to purchase equipment, or to get expertise from abroad, so these home brewers were pretty much left to their own devices. It's clear that they started improvising, making their own equipment and changing brewing methods in order to scale up. In so doing, they basically modernized Lithuanian home brewing culture into a new beer culture different from all others, since it developed in total isolation.

This process began under the Soviets, and then when independence and the market economy arrived in 1991, it exploded. Within a few years Lithuania had over 200 breweries. That's a truly astounding figure. The British were recently delighted to pass 1000 breweries, but to achieve a similar figure for breweries per capita as mid-90s Lithuania they'll have to go well over 3500 breweries.

Of course, as with other early craft brewing booms, most of these breweries have since disappeared, and this is an important development. It means that the breweries with the lowest quality and biggest consistency problems have been weeded out, so what remains is the best and most successful breweries. The Davra, Rinkuškiai, Joalda, Jovaru Alus, Su Puta, and Piniavos breweries at least are among the breweries that were started just after independence, arising directly out of the home brewing tradition.

Suddenly it doesn't seem so strange that Lithuania should have a unique beer culture.

 

[The post above has been republished with permission of Lars Marius Garshol from his blog http://www.garshol.priv.no/blog/256.html]

Published in Travel

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