A trip through Vilnius' biggest bazaars

  • 2008-11-12
  • By Giedre Virbalaite

FRESH PICKED: Vilnius' bazaars have some of the freshest produce available, but be on the lookout for dubious "home-made" foodstuffs.

VILINUS - Feeling exhausted from an intensive night life? The first step in diversifying your schedule could be a weekend trip to the local bazaars. Vilnius holds a hidden surprise in its most famous outdoor bazaar, named "Kalvariju turgus" after the street it is located on.
The bazaar on Kalvariju Street can provide a new discovery every day 's except Mondays 's from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.

But be sure to keep your wits about you to make the experience a positive one. New customers should follow some simple rules 's keep your wallet safe from pickpockets, and barter as much as possible to get better prices.
Though prices in the bazaar are generally only a few litas cheaper than in the supermarket, more tenacious buyers may be able to convince vendors to knock the price down a bit more.
There are a wide variety of industrial products in the Kalvariju Bazaar, enough to suit just about any customer's needs.

Leather gloves have recently become a popular choice. Prices range between 20-45 litas (5.79 - 13.03 euros). The woolen socks go for about 8-14 litas, while the dog's wool ones may be 10-15 litas.
The Kalvariju bazaar may also be a good alternative if you are desperately looking for cheap luxury items such as gold watches, decorated sunglasses, colorful umbrellas, fashionable belts, jewelry or perfume with famous brand names. For a price of 7 to 15 litas, you can get anything -- even if it is faked. 
Passing the "fake" part of the bazaar, the next area of the market is a paradise for food lovers. In brief, there is everything in the bazaar that the human heart yearns to buy. To tell the truth, trying to buy something simple like eggs will take some time 's lines can become quite long.

However, there are no lines in front of the stalls for garden goodies. Lately, farmers have been supplying apples even though there is no demand for them, leading to prices as low as 1-2 litas for a kilo.
Delicacies such as dried mushrooms, pickles and homemade jam are easy to find in the bazaar. Just be careful not to fall for the healing herbs when a 70-year-old woman with a Russian accent tries to promote them. Everything that is homemade should be examined very closely before buying.

At the opposite end of the city, at the junction of Pylimo and Bazilijonu Streets close to the bus station, lies the oldest bazaar in Vilnius, called Hales turgus. The facade of the building is tricky as looks like the old train station, but the view inside is of the most modern market-place.
The prices for goods at the Hales bazaar are pretty much the same as in the outdoor market, but there are some significant differences. The stink of meat and fish, combined with a new clothes smell guarantees that whatever you bring home will be stinky.

Moreover, kiosks for food and industrial products are next to each other. While standing in the long line to get cheaper bread or the smoked ham, you can look around for your next purchase 's like a pair of jeans or a new carry-on bag.

The perfume section can actually be quite funny 's many vendors sell brand name products that have been slightly altered. Dolce & Gabana becomes Dona Gabana, and Hugo Boss turns into Hogo by Hogo. The price, which never gets above about 15 litas, makes it worth a few grammar mistakes.
The visible advantage of the indoor market-place is friendly vendors 's even though they still speak mixed Lithuanian-Russian language.

A weekend trip to the bazaars of Vilnius will leave you with unforgettable memories.