neljapäev, juuni 11, 2009

leedus

The Estonians had warned me that Lithuania -- Leedu in their cutesy Finnic tongue -- was an especially boring place.

Even the teenage girl who babysits my daughters informed me that it was an igav maa ("boring country"), chock full of Maxima supermarkets -- and this was a comment from a human being that has spent most of her life in south Estonia.

So, I was prepared for boring. What I got was central European. Yes, I know, everyone hates it when you try to break out of the Baltic straight jacket, but I am an observer, and I don't feel much more different here than I did in Prague or Ljubljana. It's humid, cut by rivers, and populated by ladies who somehow manage to walk over cobblestones in yellow high heels.

What's the difference between Estonia and Lithuania? Well, Stereotypes are nasty little things but we DO rely on them to find our way in foreign surroundings. I asked my seatmate on the bus if there were any especially dangerous pockets of Kaunas, you know, something like the Baltimore City Bus Terminal at 4 AM of the East. He said no, and, so far, he has been proven right. But my stereotype of Kaunas, is that there seems to be no innate rush among the populace to give the place a facelift.

In Estonia, I feel as if there is a collective determination to exterminate every last outpost of shitty Soviet-created ruin and replace it with something shiny, efficient, and new. Nothing is ever finished, but one day, one glorious day, all of Estonia will beam with buildings refurbished with materials from Ehitus ABC or Bauhof. Old monstrosities will be demolished and replaced by modernity. Ancient farm houses will receive a fresh coat of paint. Everything will be as it should be and there will be free wireless Internet.

In Kaunas, I get the feeling that people are happy with the way things are. Unkempt grass? Dilapidated buildings? Eh, what the heck, let's grab a Svyturys and go watch the game at the bar. This city feels like it is what it is. The Lithuanians just happen to live here. That's how I feel right now, at least. But who I am I to arrive at gross generalizations after spending one day in a place?

Here's another observation. Lithuanians have funny names that bring to mind some Roman epics. Consider: "Eimantas sat in his cashier seat at the local Maxima, plotting his revenge against his cruel manager Daumantas for stealing his fiance Jadvyga's heart. I know what I'll do, thought Eimantas. I'll put poison in Daumantas' pierogies!" Or something like that.

We'll see what the next days bring for your man in Lithuania. Seeing that a trip to the local Maxima can even fire up my synapses, I doubt they will be boring.

34 kommentaari:

Puu ütles ...

The Baltimore city bus terminal is a lovely spot at all hours of the day and night.

magister nyman ütles ...

I have never visited Kaunas (nor Baltimore City bus terminal) but I really liked Vilnius. It certainly is much more central european than Estonian cities, and it is a very pleasant place.
Also the town of Trakai with its castle is really nice!

Rainer ütles ...

From what I remember Kaunas is a very lovely and cozy town, ulike drab Vilnius. But that was a long time ago.
By the way, the castle complex of Trakai may be nice and all, but keep in mind it was rebuild out of scratch back in the eighties.

Heli ütles ...

I wonder how many estonians have ever been to Lithuania? Really small percentage I think, much less than to Latvia, Finland and Sweden for sure..I´ve never been either.

T ütles ...

Leedu - in Estonian
Lietuva - in Finnish
Litvánia - in Hungarian

Andres ütles ...

Kaunas's old town seemed nice. Although we only hanged out there one night since we were passing through Lithuania and our hotel was there. It seemed completely dead though. We saw like 10 people all together, also no shops were open so we couldn't buy booze. Also the one shop that was open didn't know what debit card payments mean and the sales person didn't speak English. So we concluded it was a pommiauk. A beautiful pommiauk, but nevertheless.

Also, Lithuanian landscape is really boring. It's about as sparsely populated as Estonia but when we have massive forests of fir and birch, they have massive open fields of... nothing (well, maybe used for agriculture or smth). So when you drive through Lithuania, it's just open flat space everywhere. So yeah, extremely boring.

plasma-jack ütles ...

The Estonians had warned me that Lithuania -- Leedu in their cutesy Finnic tongue -- was an especially boring place.

I'd say it's an especially friendly place. Maybe the catholic church does it to people.
Interesting fact: the default vodka bottle there is 0,7 litres, not 0,5.

Meelis ütles ...

Central Europe is present also in Estonia, but in diluted and mixed form.
I have been only twice in Lithuania ,but I have not noticed any kind of special boredom there. In contrary, quite interesting was.

news ütles ...

The best Estonian stereotype about Lithuanians I have heard is ¨I don't think we have any.¨

Remember that before 1914, what is now Lithuania was not regarded as part of the Baltikum (in German) or Pribaltiya (in Russian). This included only Estland, Livland and Kurland guberniyas (of the Russian Empire.)

Lithuania was much more orientated towards Central Europe and Poland, and the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth existed until the partitions of the 1790s. The Catholic aristocracy spoke Polish, not German as in the Lutheran Baltic guberniyas, although everyone was subject to Russification.

Even the time was different.
Until 1914, the south (left) bank of the Nemunas in Kaunas had been part of of Suwalki guberniya, formerly part of the post-1815 Congress Kingdom Poland. It used the New-Style Gregorian Calender, while the the rest of Kaunas (and the Russian Empire), used the Old-Style Julian calender.

The joke was that the bridge over the Nemunas in Kaunas was the longest in the world, as it took you 13 days to cross!

Manona ütles ...

Hmm..

I´m working in panbaltic company and my observation is that lithuanians and estonians have a lot more common with each other that we do with latvians. In my mind - i like Lithuania. And the people there.

news ütles ...

Boycott Maxima! Go to IKI instead.

balticfeatures ütles ...

I got lost in Lithuania when I was looking for a Maxima. I asked a local where it was. "It's over there between Maxima and Maxima," he said.

notsu ütles ...

@Andres: "no shops were open so we couldn't buy booze. Also the one shop that was open didn't know what debit card payments mean and the sales person didn't speak English"
By these criteria, many European cities (continental) would qualify for pommiauk.

Giustino ütles ...

Lithuanians strike me as misplaced Italians. Estonians are a cross between the elves and hobbits of a Tolkien book. I just met with Rein Taagepera, who could be a shaman from some old Norse tale. These are people who think that Nukitsamees is appropriate for young children.

Estonian and Lithuanian commonalities may stem from self confidence in identity. I can imagine that it is very easy to express yourself to another person, when you have few reservations about how that relationship should be.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

The German perspective, Lithuania. Litauen:
Those who know a little of history and maybe remember old Germans from Memel. Germany occupied the area before WWII. Thomas Mann (literature) stayed frequently at the coast with the high dunes. Strange landscape.
1989 and especially 1991 Vilnius was the focus of confronting the soviet power, the tv tower. Read the biografies and Landsbergis, Brasauskas and Prunskiene are the names, seldom Rüütel is mentioned. Many Germans can copy with the landscape, like all former Eastern parts of Germany: Prussia, Pommerania.
And there were many reports about the "Wolfskinder". German children who lost their parents and spending their childhood protected by Lithuanians farmers after WWII:Boring landscape, yes, for some.

Bea ütles ...

_In Kaunas, I get the feeling that people are happy with the way things are._

Lithuanians and happy? It's an oxymoron. They are depressed & frustrated, bored, mad, and lack any faith anymore.
Lithuanians aren't as laid back as Italians. They are more like "mea culpa, mea maxima culpa or no: tua culpa, tua maxima culpa, but what can I do?"

In times of one more crisis, unexpected to the simple workers, Lithuania may be boring, but only if it's not dangerous.

Kaunas is dela[pidated, because it's only Vilnius - the city of the power and the rich - (and sometimes Klaipėda) that counts now, since about 1996. LT is centralized to the South East, lol. Kaunas is ridiculed as a filling- station between Vilnius and Klaipėda, it had been a provisional capital city in need (between 1922 and 1939) only when Poles had Vilnius as their provincial town, lol.
Kaunas' workers became frustrated in the hard 1990s, and got bad mayor (a vile lumpen extremist "for fun and teasing of the rich", as if they'd cry), later they elected another bad mayor (not eloquent and a conservative when those who ruled the country were socies, i. e. ex-commies.

Private money is all what Kaunas has, not too much of it either. Vilnius stands first in line, already even for the best of those who were born and raised in and around Kaunas.

Bea ütles ...

@ T:
Liettua in Finnish

Lietuva in Lithuanian (had been Liet-av-a with an old variant of the suffix, too; from an earlier Leituva/Leitava and even more ancient Lėtuva/Lėtava, Estonian writing of which would be Leetuva/Leetava)

Litva in Slavic (without the short -u- from Liet[b]u[/b]va)

Lit[b]a[/b]uen in German[ic] (with the -a- from Liet[b]a[/b]va, and the next -u- stands for v)
:)

Martin-Éric ütles ...

I have this anecdote I use, whenever meeting foreign customers and need to illustrate the three Baltic states in a comparative way:

Back in 2004, when I married my Finnish ex, we took a roadtrip along the Baltic as a honeymoon.

Estonian roads tend to be single-lane provincial roads and always under construction, but the asphalt is brand new and, as long as you don't lose patience with the over-enthusiastic rally drivers, you get from point A to point B in a rather short amount of time, thanks to terse but adequate signalization.

Latvian roads are a weird mixture of single-lane provincial roads and expressways with extremely confusing signs that almost guarantee that you'll miss your exit and will have to backtrack to find you way back to where you should have been. That's if the crazy drivers didn't make you panic and miss your exit by cutting you off at the wrong moment. In any case, the asphalt is so crappy that you keep on crossing your fingers, hoping that your car will still be intact by the time you reach your destination.

Lithuania offers a plethora of well-maintained expressways with excellent signalization that leaves very little doubt about where you are, what is the next exit leading to and what are the touristic attractions you can find there. Circulation is smooth and the people take it easy.

The general state of each of these countries match the condition of their roads:

Estonia: somewhat narrow-minded, sometimes a bit too fast-paced constant changes but, hey, it's progress and we all get there at some point.

Latvia: it's dead, Jim. Lats are resigned to having been occupied and left with Russkies always cutting them off in their own countries. The economy is as black and creepy as the asphalt is so, no wonder the country is going further down.

Lithuania: plenty of space to reflect upon life and gradually improve the quality of living. Very stable country and economy. If Estonia is the rabbit, Lithuania is the tortoise; they'll get there on time and with a more solid grasp.

Another anecdote I often use:

In 2004, Free Software Foundation founder Richard M. Stallman toured the Baltic states to rouse them into opposing the European equivalent of the DMCA and lecture about the advantages of Free Software.

In Lithuania, the conference took place in the Parliament's council of ministers' meeting room, with official interprets in their audio boot, and a mixture of Linux User Groups, business people and politicians interested in hearing how Free Software and a patent-free Europe could help Lithuanian high-tech boost the economy.

In Latvia, the conference took place in one of the polytechnic's derelict classrooms, with a crowd consisting almost exclusively of Computer Science students and hobbyists.

In Estonia, the conference took place at a private IT training institution (IT College) with a mixture of hobbyists and entrepreneurs attending.

Again, this tells a lot about the three countries:

Lithuania: Free Software and a patent-free Europe as a matter of national interest that could help boost the national economy and give jobs to lots of Lithuanians for translating all the software and would also lower national infrastructure costs.

Latvia: asides from hobbyists, who gives a damn? It's dead, Jim.

Estonia: what do you get when you combine national pride for the Estonian language with hobbyists and entrepreneurs? A fast-growing economy.

Again, both anecdotes date back from 2004 and, while the quality of roads in Latvia has improved a lot since then, the overall image still stands in all three cases.

Bea ütles ...

Many Lithuanians feared to dive into what Estonians dived straight into - very liberal capitalism with the right-wing governments ruling the country.
So we got slow and ineffective reforms, more forced on the unwilling ex-commies governments than initiated by the governments.
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We didn't learn English on TV with a help of subtitled movies. Only Russian that the conservative ex-commies knew well was subtitled, lol. Now, don't be surprised if some provincial Lithuanians, especially older than 40 or 50 (Kaunas may count as a province as well), seem impolite when you address them in English. They aren't mad, they are villagers (I-know-you-all-and-I-don't-need-polished- manners-with-any) or they are just shocked, scared and speechless that this happened to them - some foreigner and not even Russian-speaker reached out to them in some mysterious way, despite all the uninspiringly bad roads of neighboring countries, no direct air, train or water connection, no shiny promos and all the stereotypes they got dished about LT. *faint*
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LT media is very yellow and concentrates on transmitting only the intimidating news about LT to Lithuanians. Nothing inspiring, it only inspires you to leave your country by any chance if you can't join some criminal gang. Well, usually not Eastward.
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LT is very atomized, the people don't feel like they live in a society that can be trusted and would trust and help them. Many more feel not needed in their country than what Estonians would feel, thus the emigration of the stronger and the suicides of the weaker.

LT is rather messy and diverse, it has no common style. LT doesn't know where it belongs. It's a center of Europe that nobody reaches out to, understands or likes. It's everywhere or nowhere. So we have to have our own Maximas, and we have nothing else than Maximas, it seems.
We are flexible when abroad where it's already good: some can be like Italians, some can be like Danes, some can shift between these, it depends. But we are kinda lost, frustrated and disorganized here at home. We may be workaholics, esp. abroad, but we lack good ideas for our LT, we lack a government with good realistic ideas, we lack democracy. If we see a good idea abroad, we believe not many would believe in LT that it can be realized in LT as well. LT can be just bashed that it doesn't have this or that yet like those better peeps have, we believe.
---
To compare us to Latvians, Latvians seem to be less flexible in the sense, less diverse, more introvert and less keen on taking risks.
But Latvians have Riga which is inspiring and always reached out by their best neighbors. Latvians weren't deprived of this beautiful city by Germans like Lithuania had been deprived of Vilnius by Poland.
However, Latvia is not dead, lazy or something. It's just (hopelessly?) split. The messy dangerous roads are not everything.

Inner monologue ütles ...

http://www.counterpunch.org/ames06122009.html

Thought I'll mention it to you guys.

Martasmimi ütles ...

Justin,

Is this really very different then New York and New Jersey ongoing battle over New York's obvious intellectual & cultural superiority ? : )

Alex ütles ...

I've driven between Estonia and Germany three times now and Lithuania does have very nice roads and excellent road signs. However, it's the only place I've encountered drunks staggering along the middle of the road at night. Still, it's the easiest part of the drive.

Latvians have some nice roads and some still treacherous ones. Road signs are horrible and it's easy to get lost.

Driving across Poland is the most depressing 12 hours of your life. It's an epic of human misery. If you do it at night, your eyes will quickly tire and burn from all their road markings and signs blinking and flashing. Sit in a dark room for twelve hours staring at a strobe light to simulate driving across Poland at night. And I can't prove it, but I think their biggest export might be neon.

Bea ütles ...

As for boringness of the Lithuanian landscape...

It may be boring along the main cross-country magistrales (the shiniest and newest roads) Vilnius-Kaunas-Klaipėda; Vilnius-Panevėžys-[Rīga-Tallinn], Kaunas-Panevėžys, Šiauliai-Panevėžys and even Vilnius-Utena (so called betonkė - concrete-slab road), but they are made and meant to be fast, straight, safe-sided and... boring. Try some more narrow older alternatives with small towns and villages on the way, with hills, lakes and forests on the sides (drunks and crazed drivers would be more dangerous on those, I assume).

The center of the country (Kaunas, Kėdainiai, Ukmergė) is indeed mostly flat fields, fertile soils for agriculture, and serious peasants. In the North-Center (Panevėžys, Pasvalys, Biržai, Pakruojis, Šiauliai) is also quite similar, may be more foresty.

The outskirts are more hilly and foresty. The nicest lakes and pine-forests are in the East, North East (Ignalina, Molėtai, Zarasai), South-East (Varėna, Druskininkai, Lazdijai), deciduous trees and fires dominate in the west and north...

Kuršių nerija is the most unique place of the country with solitary dunes, small-pine and fir forests, the Baltic sea and a calm-sea (Kuršių marios) very close to each other. It's really a place for Estonians and all other aesthetes (<3)

More calm, tidy and serious people live in the west and north.

In Kaunas they may be quite greedy (money- orriented), ready to fool you, agressive (from South West of LT) or normal and friendly (from South East or elsewhere). In Vilnius as in the East of LT they may be noisy, careless Slavs or again Lithuanians not ready to please you, because they feel so poor themselves. In the South-East of the country (Dzūkija)they are probably the poorest indeed, but they are the friendliest and noisiest (most emotional) and the least greedy/practical, they value friendship and helpfulness, although they are far from perfectionists in these forests...

Eh, it's grey and raining all day in Kaunas today. :D

Bea ütles ...

Oh, and as for the Lithuanian first names, the mere "Greek" endings (-as, -is, -us) make them one syllable longer than what most other European names are...

The Eimantas, Domantas, Vytautas, Rimvydas, etc. are the two-worded Baltic original compounds from heathen times and are usually shortened in use: Eimis, Domas, Vytas, Rimas, Vidas, Mantas... (<3)
We are proud of these.

Other tricky Lithuanian first names are Christian Slavic, like Stani-slav-as (Become a Slav-ass), Broni-slav-as, (Defend a Slav-ass), Vladi-slav-as (Rule-over-a-Slav-ass), etc. These are also shortened, dropping the -slav- bit, to Brinius, Stasys, Vladas. These are the names of granddads and great granddads, not popular anymore.
There are also Western names...

And the last names wouldn't be so complicated if they would all be of the Lithuanian origin, from the heathen first names or from other words (nicknames). But many were Polonized and Russified in the course of history, so they got Slavic roots and endings and later on the Lithuanian endings to the ends of the Slavic endings...

So... Lithuanians shorten their names (at least in use) as well as Estonians shortened their Kristiina to Tiina and Katriina to Riina or Triinu, and the Estonian names seem mysterious to Lithuanians as well.

Kristopher ütles ...

Bea -- that's interesting. I last visited Lithuania in the mid-1990s, and at that time Kaunas was still the business capital, while Vilnius was considered sleepy and romantic nestled in its hills.

Anyway, I have to say Kaunas didn't leave much of an impression on me, upwardly mobile or not.

Lithuania -- nothing but good memories for me. Crisp October days, eating Chicago pizza at Ritos Sleptuve and drinking at Prie Parlamento -- all those places...

Then again, I'm shocked to hear what is being written about Latvia in the int'l press. Riga was once the Paris of the Baltics and was again in the 1990s, even with all its prole Russians. I don't see how things went wrong so quickly.

Giustino ütles ...

I kept my eyes peeled for something resembling "Estonianness" on the road north. After Riga, I started to see forests of familiar trees -- birch, etc. But only in Valmiera did I really feel that, ok, with a Selver and some better sidewalks this could be an Estonian town. Northern Latvia seems pretty sparsely populated. I don't get the sense that it's the center of that country.

Andres ütles ...

Northern Latvia seems pretty sparsely populated. I don't get the sense that it's the center of that country.

Maybe because it isn't? About 30% of Estonian residents live in Tallinn, about 32% of Latvian residents live in Riga. Add to that a Pärnu-ish resort of Jurmala like 15 kilometres away and that's you're center of gravity.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

I did some Google surch about Lithuania, about landscape. And true there are some parts which are fertile land. Then I came across this report of DW (Deutsche Welle). A german farmer, going to the States, coming back and thinking big:
Europe's Biggest Farmer
In Lithuania.

Kristopher ütles ...

Looking at the Regio map of Estonia, interesting how there are huge unbroken expanses of forest on the Latvian side of the Koiva river. Even the Emajõe Suursoo is dwarfed. It may be because the mapmakers provided less detail, but probably not.

Lingüista ütles ...

I have often felt (and I get the same impression from the comments in this thread) that the Baltic countries somehow don't want to be Baltic. Estonia wants to be Nordic or Scandinavian, Lithuania is Central European... is it only Latvia that is really Baltic then?

Never having been in Lithuania (or anywhere in the Baltic countries for that matter), my impression was that Lithuania was intermediate in terms of efficiency and desire to develop as a country -- right between Estonia and Latvia.

I'm actually quite fond of Latvia -- I love their dainas and I find their language quite attractive. It seemed to me that Latvians were the most passionate of the three Baltic people, which has good and bad consequences. I hope it will end up working as a country--despite the old Soviet-style corruption and lack of planning. The Latvians do deserve a good future.

Giustino ütles ...

I have often felt (and I get the same impression from the comments in this thread) that the Baltic countries somehow don't want to be Baltic. Estonia wants to be Nordic or Scandinavian, Lithuania is Central European... is it only Latvia that is really Baltic then?

It's not that Estonia wants to be Nordic. It's that Estonia is connected by language to the north, and it's capital and largest city sits an hour and a half's boat ride from Helsinki. The idea that Estonia should somehow be more connected to Vilnius because it is "Baltic" is rather silly in this context.

There was something in The Economist about this. The Estonians were portrayed as being arrogant because they have no jokes about Lithuanians. But why would Estonians have jokes about Lithuanians? How often does your average Estonian meet a Lithuanian?

And where does Vilnius look? Lithuania exists in a neighborhood that includes Poland, Kaliningrad, southern Latvia, and Belarus. Though it has a tiny mouth to the Baltic Sea, in earlier incarnations, it was the Black Sea, not the Baltic Sea, that Lithuania was trying to access.
All of that probably sounds quite fantastic for Estonians.

That's not to say that they don't have common interests. But when it comes to identity, expressing who you are, then, no, I actually don't think Estonians and Lithuanians have that much in common, or at least they don't have more in common than other neighbors.

Never having been in Lithuania (or anywhere in the Baltic countries for that matter), my impression was that Lithuania was intermediate in terms of efficiency and desire to develop as a country -- right between Estonia and Latvia.

My impression is that cleanliness increases as you travel north (though parts of Riga really do look like a pommiauk). I was so happy to be back in Tartu, where they cut the grass and pick up the litter. Finland is even cleaner than Estonia.

I'm actually quite fond of Latvia -- I love their dainas and I find their language quite attractive.

The Baltic languages are a world apart for someone who has learned Estonian. I tried to pronounce some words, but I think I'd need more time to figure it out.

It seemed to me that Latvians were the most passionate of the three Baltic people, which has good and bad consequences.

Latvians are quite nice people, but many seem disappointed in how things are going right now. Also, they never shut up. They are quite passionate. There was a joke about "hysterical" Latvians in Sügisball.

Lingüista ütles ...

Giustino, would you perhaps say that the only reason why we think of the three countries Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania as the Baltic States is that they were all together under Russian (later Soviet) power? Indeed, Lithuania's history is quite different (they defeated the Teutonic order, diverging from Latvians and Estonians already in the 13th century). Does that mean that "Baltic" as a label doesn't really stick, despite the Baltic Way and their solidarity and mutual support during the struggle for independence?

Or maybe it's just like any geographic label with fuzzy geopolitical/cultural boundaries. My home country, Brazil, is in some sense in Latin America, but we feel quite different from other Latin Americans (I always found it funny to be called "Hispanic" in the US).

In the end, the label will mean something if the people feel something about it. If the Estonians don't feel much connection to Lithuanians (not much contact) or even to Latvians (too much "hot-blooded" for our Finnish tastes), and vice-versa, then they'll drift apart, and "Baltic" might become -- like "Eastern Europe" -- an old-fashioned label. Nobody places Romanians and Czechs together these days, despite both having been (being still?) part of "Eastern Europe".

Bea ütles ...

There is some connection, but quite weak one and as long as Estonians don't have much to gain from Lithuanians, they won't even look at us anymore.
So is with Latvians, Although some Latvians may still feel somewhat curious and warm about our language (a bit familiar, a bit fun) even Latvians as the Lutheran serious introvert aesthets are more keen to be like Estonians.
Riga was a city in which most ethnic Lithuanians lived in 19 c. (80% lived still in vilages in LT), and Latvia thought it would make the first university course in Lithuanian in their national university, but those Lithuanians were patiotic, hopeful and returned to the newborn Republic of Lithuania. This Republic had already broken ties to all the Slavic nations and ethnoses and to Germany in the West. Latvians did not really want to have a common state with Lithuania, but weren't also all hostile. Lithuania had been weaker and less educated by then, that's the reason why they contempted us somewhat. They are now somewhat surprised that we are not so much weaker anymore, probably even on the contrary because we became a clearly dominating ethnos in our country, and they lost that status.
Some of us like them in the North, but they don't like us. So LT will have to stand alone until we all can afford ourselves to cut all grass and face-lift all messy buildings. We won't be held people by them until then, lol. They won't understand why we tried to go East and find some help for ourselves there against Germans that occupied them, and against later Moscowits that occupied us all later on. In fact, Balts had lived in some part of Ukraine and in Belarus for some time before Slavs assimilated part of them.

And possibly Finnic tribes lived in part of Lithuania for some time as well. So there are some common genes and traits, and heathen traditions in some of our people.

Anyway, Lithuanian Catholics were not respected by other Baltic Lutherans and vice versa, and only 9% of Lithuanian people managed to stay Protestants after the counter-reformation here. They are even less now, after WWII when most of them left or were sent to Germany.

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Rein Raud and Tiina Kattel speak perfect Lithuanian nevertheless. So there can be occational cases of interest or understanding. I have a perfect Estonian friend as well. I like to be quiet when she speaks a lot to me. ;)

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Finland was held a Baltic state before WWII as well, but they managed to stay Western while we three got Easternized, so Finland got closer to Scandinavia.

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We have all the chances open as long as we'll stay us. So far, Estonia has obviously the most people who know who they are and who are firmly themselves. Lithuania has lots of lost freedom-seekers.

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I'm shocked that Giustino wrote "Latvians never shut up", lol. "Latvians never speak" is more likely here. Latvians sing and dance, mostly for themselves and looking inside. ;)

Tomas ütles ...

Hello,
I think all your statements like "Lithuania is a boring country" sounds really silly. Actually you wouldn't find any "boring" country in the whole world.
But if you don't believe, please watch this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OStISjdmmSI

I'm sure the video will explode all your illusions about "boring" Lithuania :)

Tomas