A Beginner's Mind
Five days in, and I am already changed. Walking around with a beginner's mind, the city strikes me as magical yet practical, modern yet ancient. As an American, I'm only used to the castles of Disney Land, but I've seen two in my stretch of five days. A few things stick out as I've made my way across and outside the city:
The forests are just as beautiful as I'd imagined them to be. Driving through them, I noticed their soul, their warmth, and their solidity. If this sounds like Hippie Shit to you, just know I'm always like this. ;) But as an intrepid traveler, they already feel like home and were worth jumping into the unknown for.
Malls are not dead in Vilnius. While Americans have embraced a post-mall Amazonian lifestyle, indoor malls thrive here in Lithuania, probably due to the biting winter colds I've yet to experience. Fresh food markets pop up around the city, providing a farmers market feel over a typical grocery store. The markets in particular have felt rich in experience for myself and my husband, and are a cultural reset from Texas's grand marshal of grocery stores, H-E-B.
Hot air balloons are a thing here. Every night during the summer, people fly up into the skies that overlook the city, making a whimsical spectacle for everyone else on the ground. Like a circadian rhythm, I look up into the evening sky and feel the magic and awe of my inner child.
More than anything, the people of Lithuania have been welcoming, friendly, and supportive, going so far as to accompany us to the grocery store and discuss the finer points of Rimi, Maxima, or Lidl. Of course, there are grumpy and guarded people, but I've seen plenty of those in the States, too. If anything, the occasional grimace has offered entertainment as we explore the city streets. As a friendly American, this hasn't been as much of a culture shock as I expected it to be, although I'm still bracing myself for the winter cold...