Located in the North of Lithuania, founded around the time (1236) of one of the most epic battle in the Baltic region, Battle of Saule, Šiauliai is the city of the sun, religion pilgrimage, chocolate, logistic hub, good food and nice parties.
During winter it is a fun place to slide on the ice with you normal boots. Don’t be afraid to hit you ass on the ice, it is thick and hard. You can see some people fishing, skiing and skating. It is a good opportunity to see people smiling, laughing and enjoying themselves in here.
During summer, people get their boats, kayaks and strange waterbikes to row on the lake and the curious wakeboarding sport. There are also plenty of ducks and birds you can feed. Walking in the woods is also interesting, if you have bicycles you would have a lot of fun with hidden routes. If you are lucky you can see some big NATO planes flying low on their descent to Šiauliai military airport.
It feels empty most of the time, but you can find a lot of people in the city center when the weather is good and at all the time in bar, pubs and restaurants. Every single time I go there I get to discover a new spot with its unique charm and beers. The main street has a large pedestrian way full of places to go and it is nice to ride bicycle as well. There are around 3 shopping centers and an interesting market (Turgus) in which you can find a good variety of vegetables, honey, meat, fish, bread, clothes, etc.
My friends from Šiauliai are all really funny people, very interested in foreign cultures, open to many ideas and have a huge resistance for alcohol. I am able to match them drinking beer, but as soon as they give me something stronger, then I get in trouble.
Places of Interests
There are many interesting (or strange) statues around the city, very artistic. Here are some:
- Ruta Chocolate factory: small but really really interesting. Here they tell in images the story on how the chocolate as we know it was used as money by the Pre-Columbian civilizations in American and how the Europeans didn’t like it, but by adding sugar to it created an enormous economic growth with this product we love. After this visit I decided to never eat white chocolate again after understanding the hug amount of sugar it has. There is a shop downstairs with really nice gourmet chocolates. I love it!! Website link
- Chaimo Frenkelio Vila: a museum that tells the story of this remarkable Lithuanian that built one of the biggest leather factories in the world at the beginning of the 20th century. Unfortunately the business was over after the wars that ravaged Europe, but his legacy stands. The mansion has a very fine collection of 18th and 19th century articles, a minimalist cinema playing silence movies, some art, etc. I really enjoy it!!
- Hill of Crosses: it is a hill full of crosses from people all over the world. You might find it scary or exotic. If you are super christian this place is a must, even the emblematic Pope John Paul II has visited the site.
- Wakeboarding @ Fox Spot:
Lithuania has some non-official regions that sometimes have their own dialect or almost language. Šiauliai is part of Samogitia or as it is know in Lithuanian: Žemaitija. This dialect even has several Wikipedia articles written in this language. This region played an impressive role in the 14th century Crusades since the Teutonic crusaders were never able to conquer this land, despite trying for more than 100 years!! You can find more information about this region and their people not only in Lithuania but also in Latvia since it was part of their territory as well, the entrance of the War Museum un Riga (Latvia) displays the Battle of Saule.