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Vacationing Lithuanians travel far and wide

  • 2000-02-17
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis
VILNIUS - Everybody knows where celebrities spent their vacations. The mass media likes this theme. Current President Valdas Adamkus and his wife Alma spend their vacations in Mexico on the Pacific coast.

They have being going there every winter for 10 years already. The Adamkus's have been doing this since their days in Chicago and they did not give up this tradition after moving to Vilnius. The Adamkus' family returned from a two-week-long vacation in Mexico on Feb. 10. Their privacy in Mexico was guarded by seven federales from Mexican state security.

Gediminas Vagnorius, while prime minister and after leaving this post, was faithful to his vacation place in Sri Lanka.

Arvydas Sabonis, NBA basketball player, prefers to spend half of his vacations in his own hotel in Palanga and half at his villa in Malaga, Spain.

However, there are celebrities who state that Lithuanian resorts are the best in the world and never go abroad for vacations.

Parliament Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis and his wife, pianist Grazina Rucyte-Landsbergiene, prefer to spend part of their summer vacations near the small town of Paluse in Aukstaitija National Park, and part at the beaches in Nida. Former President Algirdas Brazauskas has also been faithful all his life to Nida.

Many Lithuanians like to spend vacations abroad if their finances allow.

"The most popular summer vacation destination among Lithuanians is Spain. The second is Tunisia. Number three is the beaches of Turkey. It is followed by Cyprus," said Julijus Fisas, commercial manager of the Vilnius-based travel agency West Express. He explained that other Lithuanian travel agencies report similar destination preferences.

"It is also popular to visit European capitals. The most popular [places to visit] in our agency are Paris, Amsterdam, London and Copenhagen. In winter time the most popular destinations are Thailand, Bali island of Indonesia and the Canary islands," Fisas said.

According to a survey published in lithuanian Lietuvos rytas, 1 percent of Lithuanians went abroad to bring in the New Millennium. The most popular destinations were Prague, Paris and London. Lithuanian tourists said that the Lithuanian language was heard more often than Russian in the squares and pubs of London on New Year's Eve.

Prague is very popular among Lithuanian schoolchildren and students. The Czech Republic and Slovakia are famous in Lithuania for beer and food, both cheaper than in Lithuania.

"I don't like all these travel agencies. I, my husband and my son prefer to travel on our own. We feel more free then. We like to travel in Europe by car. I don't know if I would like to go to America or Australia. I'm a European and I like Europe. Another reason is that we need visas for those overseas countries. I don't like this bureaucracy. We don't need visas for the European Union countries and I'm happy about it. One more reason is the price. Well, my 10 year old son would like to visit Disneyland in Florida, of course," said Inga, 35.

Despite problems with visiting overseas countries, it is difficult to find a Lithuanian who hasn't visited his relatives in the United States, Canada or Australia, or whose relatives haven't. Some rich people make such journeys on their own, but most Lithuanians travel with the financial help of their relatives and friends living overseas.

"It is good that now we can travel everywhere. For 50 years we could travel only to Russia," said Sigitas Kucas, physicist with the Theoretical Physics and Astronomy Institute, who just recently pedalled his bicycle around the world for over 500 days, visiting 44 countries on five continents.