We went to Bernardine Gardens, a former private botanical garden turned public, for brunch with all the wedding guests (or at least the ones who weren’t too hungover). There was a mimosa bar, fresh bread, butter and jams, cheese, deli meats, croissants, yogurt and granola, juices, and sparkling water. Cousin had arranged all this too for us. We walked around with all the nieces and nephews.
From there, my other cousin had a tour bus pick us up and take us to Trakai Castle with a tour guide. Her name was Victoria and she seemed about my age. She wore black slacks and a white top under a gray blazer. She was also super friendly and intelligent. The castle is set on an island in the middle of the lake, and we crossed two foot bridges to get to it. Unfortunately, I got sick during the drive there, so I sat in the inner courtyard of the castle and waited while everyone got a tour. I felt so bad, but my head was killing me. Cousin said that I probably haven’t rested enough, we’ve been on the go each day, and she was partly right.
On the drive back I sat at the front of the bus and apologized profusely to Victoria for missing out on the tour. She told me it was OK and if I had any questions about Lithuania. So we had a nice talk for about 40 minutes on the way back to Vilnius. I had some questions about their school system, about how companies treat employees (4 weeks of paid vacation! Up to 3 years parental leave after maternity leave with 70% paycheck!). She felt sorry for me that I only got two weeks of vacation. I wish I got her information just so that I could keep in touch with her. It’s rare that I get the urge to be forward with making friends, let alone international friends, but the chance blew past me.
When we got back, the whole family met in old town for one last dinner together. We were leaving for Geneva in the morning, and everyone else was going to Druskininkai, a famous spa town 90 minutes from Vilnius. The sky grew dark and the weather chilly, and I wished that I could always make trips like this, for family, for myself. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have family all over the world and to get these kinds of opportunities. The whole trip went by so fast and being with family made Vilnius feel like home.