Monday, July 30, 2012

Belfry towers and Bribery

Since us ILP girls only have about 2 1/2 weeks left in Lithuania, me and Bailey decided to start cramming some more sight seeing in!! So, this morning, we headed over to Old Town to try and find the Vilnius University. 

In 1579, Stephen Bathory, the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, founded the Jesuit Academy in Vilnius, Lithuania.  Though it was shut down and reopened a number of times as a result of uprisings and occupations in Vilnius, it is the largest university in Lithuania, the oldest university in the Baltic States, and one of the oldest in Eastern Europe. 

Today in particular, we were looking for the Vilnius University courtyards -  there are 13 courtyards connected throughout the University, with various landmarks and icons in each.  After finally finding the entrance, Bailey and I wandered into the Library courtyard to begin exploring the connected courtyards.
A bird eye's view of the Vilnius University Courtyards, 13 in total.
The Library coutryard
Me, in front of a random (and kind of sad looking) fountain
The ceiling of the bookstore in the library courtyard - I swear, everything is fancier here! America's ceilings are lame.
The entrance to another connected courtyard
Random and strange looking plants
The Vilnius University bell - I believe it was made in the 1980's?
St. John's belfry in the main courtyard
Another view of the main courtyard

St. John's church
A wall with painting murals of all the previous Vilnius University presidents
The Astronomy courtyard - if you look closely, different constellation figurines are lining the main building in this courtyard
Another entrance
One of the staircases through the courtyard maze

Just enjoying the local lawn ornaments
In one of the courtyards, we happened upon this random fresco - it was a small room, with every surface of the walls and ceiling painting with beautiful depictions of life.
Some of the ceiling art
Me, by one of the fresco walls
This was my favorite painting - a tree of life, arching over one of the ceilings and extending over the open door. It was beautiful.
After Bailey and I got our fill of the courtyard exploration, we decided to venture up the St. John's belfry. What an adventure that was!!
We started on the first floor of the belfry, where there was a small exposition on some of the history of Vilnius University - complete with dead butterfly collections and an anatomy model of someone's foot. Delicious.
Then, we squeezed up a narrow flight of stairs to come into this chamber - this picture is looking up into the belfry tower
There was even a Foucault pendulum in the corner.  We took a second to enjoy that before turning around to conquer the stairs to the top of the belfry.
Bailey, who just so happens to be slightly afraid of heights, and therefore noticeably panicked as we climbed the 35 flights of stairs. Yep. 35 flights.
However, the view was COMPLETELY worth it.
Overlooking Old Town from the Belfry
Old Town again, with the hill of crosses in the background - you can just barely see the white cross outlines. Oh, and I'm there too.

Looking down into the main courtyard of Vilnius University from where we were.
Bailey, totally dominating her fear of heights and loving the view.  She was such a trooper.
After we had gotten our fill of the view, we turned back around the climb back down these stairs of death. Luckily, we kind of wimped out and only went so far as the elevator :) Hey, we already climbed up it once!
Looking down the  belfry rafters - if you peek in the bottom left corner, you can see the pendulum on the bottom floor.
 Basically, the morning adventure in Vilnius University was SUPER fun. I loved having some time with Bailey to explore the courtyards and climb some ghastly stairs with her.

Once we resumed being responsible and started back at the school, things got a little hectic! Both Areil and Janese were feeling pretty sick, so Elise, Bailey and I were filling in for them. Things worked out great though, and we had fun with the kids :) Towards the end of the day, I was pretty worn out though, and the kids still had energy to spare! Suddenly I had a stroke of genius, and told the kids that anyone who could do 100 jumping jacks/jumpropes would get a treat! Therefore, we spent the next 15 minutes counting for each kid as they did the 100 challenge!
Rusne, who did 100 jumpropes without skipping a single step. Childhood of a girl, at it's best.

Dora, doing her jumping jacks.

All the kids, and their victory stances once they were rewarded with a square of chocolate.

Let me translate - HURRAH!
 I'd say it was a success. The kids were happy with their square of chocolate, and adequately exhausted enough for me to resume control of the class again. I might have to file that trick away for when I have kids of my own someday...

The day ended wonderfully, playing card games with Mantas, one of our new friends we met at Saturday's lake adventure :)


  1. I might have to file that away for my OWN kids today. ;)

    I love the pics of the ceilings inside the University! I've been to most of the courtyards, but hadn't ever been inside the buildings. And the belfry! How did I miss that?! What a view!

    Also, do you think after going to school there for a while, you'd start to think the ceilings/architecture was normal? I mean, after a while, I doubt the students see it anymore. Makes me wonder what beauty I got used to at BYU... (Which definitely isn't centuries-old beauty, but you know, in BYU's own way.)

    1. I love the ceilings there too!! As for the belfry tower, that was a wonderful view indeed!! I did love it there - bummer you never went.

      And to answer your question, yes I definetly think

    2. That the students get used to the architecture there. Even walking around old town, I'm constantly noticing different aspects of the buildings, while most Lithuanians don't even seem to look uP from the road. Kind of sad.