1. All Lithuanians speak Russian
I believe that you, readers, are educated and well-travelled enough to have learned the part of history where the Soviet Union collapses, and Lithuania goes its separate way — We were the first one to do so, by the way. I get that it can be tricky to follow what’s new in these small Eastern European countries that were once a part of the USSR when you have to deal with Trump, Brexit, and ISIS, but just a little effort won’t hurt.
Russian is indeed spoken quite a lot here, and the demand for it among employers has recently grown, but Lithuanians are proud of their own unique Lithuanian language, one of the oldest languages in the world. The only Russian that every single Lithuanian speaks fluently is swearing.
Also, you won’t catch us off balance if you start speaking English. In fact, I’ve come across a few homeless men in Vilnius who spoke way better English than young hipsters in some very much self-proclaimed cool European countries.
2. Lithuanians are reserved, rude, and unfriendly.
We won’t invite a stranger into our house, but that’s what we call “being cautious” here. Other than that, just go into a bar on any night of the week and see for yourself. Lithuanians are always up for a good laugh and a chitchat, especially with foreigners, just like everybody else. If you happen to be able to speak some Lithuanian, they will worship you forever.
3. It rains in Lithuania. A lot.
It is actually raining buckets as I’m writing this, but generally it’s not that bad.
4. Lithuanians are slow.
This misconception has been the main topic of all anecdotes about the Baltic people among Russians for decades.
The wi-fi in Lithuania was ranked the fastest in the world multiple times. Lithuanians are not slow-thinkers either; with all the startups per square metre, Vilnius could probably qualify for being the Eastern European Silicon Valley. And, if you’re still not quite convinced, try public transports in Vilnius — I reckon Lithuanian drivers wanted to be race car drivers growing up.
5. The official religion in Lithuania is Catholicism.
Nope, it’s basketball. Though I do bypass old ladies leaving church on my occasional Sunday morning walks of shame.
6. Vilnius is just another boring cross-town.
Forget the image of a post-Soviet grey city with same repellent apartment buildings you may have in mind. Finding a more creative and vibrant European city than Vilnius could be a tough challenge.
Over the years it has become a perfect example of how history can coexist with glass skyscrapers, and how the most dangerous district can turn into the hottest spot. Something is happening here and there regardless of the time of the year, day of the week, or part of the day.
Other than being the city of street art, having the coolest bars, rich and diverse music scene, it has a bohemian self-proclaimed republic with a Constitution, according to which: “Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation”. Need I say more?