We headed back to our apartment with enough time to change out of our wet clothes and get ready for dinner at Stasys. We did manage to make a quick trip to get some flowers to bring to dinner, and we had already picked up a bottle of wine. Stasys and his family were again very generous hosts. They have a beautiful townhouse - one of four units in row with a security gate, garage and beautiful home. His wife set a gorgeous table, loaded with goodies and made a delicious creamy fish pasta. Stasys made sure our wine glasses were always full. We all ate well, and Saulius made good use of his time playing with every toy he could get his hands on. They have a very handsome 13 month old son - Alexander - who has a great collection of toys. On the way home he stopped at a panoramic site for us to see Vilnius by night. It's not too far from our apartment so we might try to walk there next week. We got back here around midnight, and all of us went to bed right away.
Wednesday was another big day. We were set to be picked up by Veronica's cousin Mantas and stay with his family overnight in Kaunas. On our way there, we had lunch with Mantas' parents, and his Aunt Veronica. His mom made an amazing chicken dinner with cold meats for an appetizer. They had a wonderful dessert which was layers of merainge put together with peanut butter cream. His parents and Aunt Veronica were very kind to Saulius and presented him with a toy truck, a game, a small history/picture book of Lithuania and some chocolates. We visited for awhile and looked at old pictures. They all looked the same as during our last visit in 2004.
We left Mantas parents house, and after a short drive arrived at his house. He has a lovely apartment that he and Kristina have completely re-done. We went inside to discuss our plans for touring Kaunas. As child seats are required and there were 3 kids, we had to use both Mantas' car and a taxi. We went to the Kaunes Zoo with Mantas, his wife Kristina, 5 year old son Gustus, and 6 month old daughter Emma. This was great fun for the children, and I'm sure that they were less than enthused to learn that we were going to another church next. But this was the tallest building in Kaunes, and from the roof you could see most of the city. We then went down to the main area of the city, and the Freedom Walk area. Mantas treated us to a nice lunch, and we then made one last stop to the Kaunas Acropolis Mall. There they have a large kid play area that both boys liked, and they burned up lots of energy playing there. Sauilus was told that he could have one last run through the maze, and he overly milked it. Dad almost had to climb in after him. Then it was time to head back to their home. Time to relax, eat dinner, and watch the boys play. Saulius and Gustus did a sleepover in his room, thus giving us our own room!
Thursday, we had breakfast with Mantas and his family before more sightseeing. We went to Fort IX or Fort 9. The fort was built by Tsar Alexander before WWI and was basically abandoned before the German's attacked it. After WWI, the government ran the fort, but the Nazi's turned it into a prisoner camp in WWII. Several 10's of thousands people were killed there. The Soviets turned it into a musuem and monument with typical, heavy-handed architeture. There were exhibits about how the holocaust occurred there and some of the Lithuanians who saved Jews. It was so sad and depressing. The entire fort is open for guided tours - we had an English speaking guide just for us. It is mostly concrete, and in some places very cold and wet inside. The whole tour took over an hour. There is an area dedicated to the over 50,000 people murdered there. The tour guide commented on Saulius' good, chatty Lithuanian and our lack of same, and guessed that we adopted him. Once again we were told what a good thing we were doing.
We left the fort for the Mega Mall. This is where we would have lunch, and luckily for me (JR) they had a Cili Pica place. The only place I've found so far that makes good pizza. So, we ate and then headed back to Vilnius. Mantas had to drive through some awful rain and we hope he didn't run into it again on the way back. Saulius and John both had a nap in the car. Veronica started laundry, and we relaxing at home. Dinner was sausage, potatoes, and juice. No news about the visa, so hopefully tomorrow. We had contacted our travel representative about Saulius' airfare. After some confusion, we now have it resolved, and it will also be confirmed tomorrow. So, Saulius is now in bed sound asleep. He fell asleep while talking to Veronica's parents tonight on Skype. Veronica and I are watching Star Wars on the DVD player I bought. As Saulius fell asleep while talking to home, we put him in the bedroom and are going to try sleeping in the living room on the pull out couch. Hopefully he'll be ok.
Yes, this is the original jar of BBQ sauce from 2002.