Monday, October 8, 2012

Labas Vakaras - Becca from George Fox



Klaipėda Photo by Becca
 I am pretty sure I fell a little bit in love with this city tonight. Klaipeda is, for me, the perfect mixture of big-city feel and small-town atmosphere. Friday night is the busiest night of the week, and even then you'll spot only a few cars driving down the streets.

Klaipeda is quiet, but not in a Newberg sort of way. In Newberg (where I go to school in the states), life ceases to exist after about 8pm. The streets are silent and "Closed" signs blink through the night, the buzz of electricity the only thing to break the silence.

 In Klaipeda, life seeps out from the doorways of restaurants, bars and jazz clubs. There is laughter and the sound of small talk and the occasional wayward note of a saxophone. There is life, but it is not busy. There is life, but it is not ostentatious or pretentious. Klaipeda is about appreciation and sincerity, antiquity and culture. The cobble stone streets glow with the warm light of street lamps and the occasional couple strolls down the sidewalks on their way home from a drink with friends.

Klaipeda is, at times, other-worldly.

Tonight, Christy, Buddy and I went to a restaurant called Viva la Vita on the 21st floor of a hotel. There aren't many skyscrapers in Klaipeda, so our view was incredible and we sat down right as the sun began to set.

When our waitress handed us menus, we had a drink menu in English and a food menu in Lithuanian. For some reason, we assumed they didn't have a food menu in English and struggled through trying to figure out what to order when the only words we recognized were chicken, mango, fish, crocodile and cheese.

Thankfully Christy asked for a menu in English because what we thought was just steak was actually "Ostrich Steak" and there were a few other questionable items as well. I ended up ordering a chicken fillet grilled in filo dough with some sort of a sauce. All I can say is that it was the first full meal I have eaten in three weeks. It was indescribable. We stuck around for dessert, too, as the yellows of sunset turned to the dark blues of dusk.

At one point, a man was walking around the restaurant with his very happy one-year-old son. The little boy kept smiling at us and we, being as American as we are, smiled right back. So his dad picked him up and stood him on the table while he proceeded to have a conversation with us. As the little boy ripped pieces of napkin to give to Buddy, the man told us about his time in Estonia (where we are headed in about two weeks) and asked us lots of questions about our time in Lithuania. I am in awe at the kindness Lithuanians have shown us when we are in public situations and clearly out of our element. He even offered to help us out if we ever needed it!

Spending a quiet night out on the town was just what I needed. As an introvert, the constant social interaction I face here can be quite exhausting. In fact (and I'm embarrassed to admit this), I didn't wake up until after 1:00 today, purely from being so tired! But going out with just two of my friends (and two of the most easy-going, at that) was a perfect way to spend my Saturday evening.

After dinner, we walked around the Old Town of Klaipeda, scoping out other places to explore throughout the semester. I made a promise to bring my camera so I can capture Klaipeda at night and share how beautiful it is with you all.

The best part of the night, though, and by far the most hilarious thing ever was watching Buddy get attacked by a very drunken Bachelorette party. The bride, who was wearing a bright pink mini skirt that perfectly matched the lipstick smeared all over her face, headed straight for Buddy, flanked by all 7 or 8 of her friends. "Labas Vakaras" ("Good evening") , she said in a slightly slurred and suggestive manner. Christy and I were busting up laughing as Buddy pushed his way through the crowd of girls to reach safety. It was fantastic and the best way to end this wonderful Saturday evening.

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