WHAT I DID: Vilnius 🇱🇹
I did still get out to see the tourist core of Vilnius, rambling through the lanes and popping into various churches and the Cathedral.
After checking in, I headed out to hike up to their small castle, only the tower of which is open. It's a steep climb, or you can take the short funicular up/down for €1 each way. The 360 view of the city is the reward.
Vilnius With Locals Tour
This tip-based tour is led by certified tour guides (who occasionally are stopped for credential checks) with lots of local and historical knowledge. It was just the right 2.5 hour intro to the city, showing things that - without a Rick Steves guidebook - I'd never discover on my own.
This fair happens to run this weekend, with craftspeople in each little hut displaying old time crafts of weaving, wood carving and others. I dropped in for a presentation of 14th century costumes and another of 17th century dancing with performers in period costumes.
Museum of Occupations
The Museum of Occupations tells the tragedies of back and forth Soviet and German Occupations of Lithuania. It's truly a wonder their culture and traditions have survived.
The grandmother of the dog owner I met in the park was born in exile in Siberia. Her family returned and she saw Lithuania for the first time when she was 7.
There are flags of Ukraine flying almost anywhere that there is a Lithuanian flag. Lithuanians are very supportive of countries under threat or siege by occupying forces.
Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
Visiting this large Palace is like walking through a colorful encyclopedia of the history of the Kingdom of Poland and Duchy of Lithuania. The history is told as you wander through remains of the earliest castle walls and remnants of centuries of life there, including 3D models showing the changes in layout.
Visiting Tip: You could spend days here, reading every exhibit, all available in English. It's no wonder they sell 4 different ticket options for different routes through the Palace. It's a lot for one viewing. I had to pick up the pace to make it through all 4 sections in 2.5 hours. It might be better to split them up, with Tours 1 and 2 by far the most substantial.