Sightseeing: road/hiking/historical trip

Sightseeing

Hello!

A few day ago, I did my first sightseeing post in a long time and now, only a week later, I give you another installment of this series. This time, I will tell you how I and a few members of my family traveled from Kaunas (wiki) to Jurbarkas (wiki) and visited a variety of locations, which have a very rich history.

We set off early in the morning and I was driving (I don’t have my license yet, but I can drive if a member of a family, who has a license, is sitting by me. This road trip was also a really good driving practice). We didn’t plan anything in advance, so we just stopped at places, which seemed interesting enough to visit. I have to admit that I have gone on this trip before with my classmates, when I was in 6th grade, but in was such a long time ago that I practically don’t remember anything. Also, who actually remembers anything from school trips, especially those from middle school years?

Anyway, our first stop was Seredžius mound. More about it here. The view from the mound was breathtaking. You can see the green scenery of Lithuania as well as the biggest and longest river in Lithuania – Neman (wiki) – flowing right by.

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The next mound we visited was actually a group of 4 mounds located near Veliuona (wiki). We managed to hike up to only 2 of them.

The first one is called the Mound of Gediminas’s Grave. It has a tombstone dedicated to Gediminas – the grand Duke of Lithuania, who lived ad ruled in 14th century. The Duke is actually buried in Veliuona. Plus, the mound has a beautiful view of aforementioned Neman river.

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The other mound that we hiked up to was the Mound of the Castle. It had a huge meadow on top of it. The castle that was standing there must have been huge. A commemorative rock with the dates of the battles that took place near the castle was also nice addition to this place.

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While near Veliuona, we also visited a museum and looked around Veliuona’s church. The museum is located in an old mansion and we actually where able to meet the owner of that mansion. She is over 70 years old and just came back from Canada. The woman spent her childhood years in the building that now houses a museum, before setting off on a journey around the world in her adult years. The museum showed the real life history – a history of one family, whose members lived there their whole lives. My favorite part was the opportunity to go to the basement of this mansion. There was no electricity in the basement and tones of old furniture and other unneeded stuff were laying around, so that place looked like it belonged in a horror movie.

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Our third stop was Raudonė Castle (wiki). It is one of the most famous castles in Lithuania. Now, there is a a elementary and middle school established in the building. There is not much to do in the actual castle, but you are welcomed to climb up numerous flights of stairs to the top of the castle’s tower. Both, the scenery and the 360 degree view, are amazing. If you are afraid of heights, you can take a walk in the castle’s park, which has ancient trees and cute ponds.

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The last stop was Panenumė castle (wiki). This one has plenty of activities. You can climb up to the tower as in Raudonė castle, but you can also visit the basement of the castle as well as the medieval jail cell. The castle also has a small museum and a huge park, where you can try your hand at archery or ride a horse. In addition, you can buy local goods at a little market, which is located in the inner-yard of the castle. Lastly, the second floor of the main castle is turned into an impromptu art gallery. Currently, there is an exhibition of paintings and other pieces of art made my junior students of Vilnius Academy of Arts (wiki).

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and the photos as much as I’ve enjoyed travelling through these historic sites and taking pictures of these stunning locations. If you decided to visit these places, wear comfortable shoes, because you will have to do a lot of walking and hiking. But the scenery is definitely worth the climb. Have a great week and see you soon!

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Movie review: Cinderella 2015 + Frozen Fever

Movie reviews

Hello!

I have just come back from the early screening of Cinderella in honor of International Women’s Day and this is going to be my review! Happy Women’s day to all the women and girls out there too!!

First of all, let’s start with the Frozen short – Frozen Fever – which they showed before the movie. I was really scared that they wouldn’t show it internationally but they did and I am really happy about it!

I loved the short movie even more than the actual Frozen movie! My favorite story line of Frozen was the sister relationship which is also the main focus of the short film. The quirkiness of Anna and Kristoff is also relatable to me and it’s explored in the short too. And did you see how cute Elsa’s little snowmen look? Now Olaf can have brothers and sisters! Elsa’s and Anna’s dresses were also amazing and really spring-like…I also loved that they re-used the line “The cold never bothered me anyway” to introduce the song “Perfect Day“. One last note: I liked the fact that they showed what Hans was doing after what he did in Frozen…That was a nice cameo.

Trailer: Frozen Fever trailer

Rate: 4/5frozen-fever-poster

Now, let’s talk about Cinderella. First of all, I liked that this was a direct remake of the original one with little changes and not a nitty-gritty evil version of it…Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Maleficent and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, however, I do believe that some things don’t have to change because the original story is that good. Some might say that I have a conservative way of thinking and don’t like changes in general but that would be completely untrue. Some might also claim that I am anti-feminist because I like that women are depicted as beautiful dolls with no brain..Again, both of these statements are completely untrue. I have a very liberal view and I also would call myself a modern feminist because both of these ideologies encourage me to choose freely. And, though, I like strong female characters like Katniss from THG , this time, I choose to watch a “sappy” romance because I have a choice. I also will try to argue that Cinderella is a strong female character in her own way.

Acting

I have seen probably all the possible adaptations of the Cinderella, including all the teen remakes (Another Cinderella Story with Selena Gomez was like my favorite childhood movie and introduced me to Selena Gomez whose fan I still am). However, I will admit that I haven’t seen an original Cinderella animation in a long time..It has probably been at least 3-4 years since I’ve last watched it. Though, I’ve recently seen Into The Woods and really liked Anna Kendrick as Cinderella and Chris Pine as Prince Charming…Having said that, I believe that this movie has even better Cinderella and a Prince.

Lilly James as Cinderella was really amazing. She definitely looked the part but she also sold me on both the emotional connection with her parents and the chemistry with The Prince. Their first dance was sensual and sexual at the same time. I also liked her connection with nature and animals. Because I am a fan of Downtown Abbey, it  was also fun for me to see her do all the work while her maid form Downtown (actress Sophie McShera) played one of the evil step-sisters. They kinda exchanged roles for a few hours. Another step sister was played by actress Holiday Grainger. Both actresses did a nice job. They characters were a bit cartoon-ish but then again – this is an adaptation of cartoon.

Richard Madden as Prince Charming. God, I forgot how handsome he was…He was a great Heir to Winterfell in GoT and, in this movie, he was definitely the most charming Prince you could ever find. I believed his and Cinderella’s love at first sight. Strange, how this type of love works in fairy-tales for me but doesn’t work anywhere else (I have Jupiter Ascending in mind (review)).

Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine/Evil step-mother – talk about a scene stealer. Cate captivated your attention every-time she was on screen. She was such a great evil step mom. I hated her a lot. If I was in Cinderella’s place, I would have punched her in the face after the first week but I guess I am not that kind.

P.S. her cat – Lucifer – was cool Easter Egg too.

Cinderella’s parents: Hayley Atwell and Ben Chaplin were also great. I am a fan of Hayley (just finished Agent Carter) and I believe that they portrayed a family relationship nicely. My eyes were watering when Hayley’s character was dying..I was also sad that I wasn’t able to see the actress, I like, on screen for a longer period of time.

Derek Jacobi as The King and Stellan Skarsgard as Grand Duke (I guess the director Kennith Branagh of the film had to pick at least one of the actors from Thor – he directed that movie too). I liked that they explored the father-son relationship between The King and The Prince more and added more depth to these characters. The twist on the Grand Duke’s character was also an interesting touch.

Nonso Anozie as the Captain was also a nice addition to the film. His and Prince Charming’s scenes showed The Prince more as a commoner and not a royalty.

Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother was also a functional role, though I would have liked to see a fairy godmother more as a sensitive, encouraging character and less like a comic relief character.

Visuals/Costume/Setting

The movie looked breathtakingly beautiful. The costumes were exquisite, the sets looked real and authentic and the overall visual realization of the film was just spectacular. Props to Sandy Powell for costume design, Haris Zambarloukos for cinematography and Martin Walsh for the beautiful editing of the film.

Story

Probably all of you reading this know, how Cinderella’s story plays out. And I really love it for what it is. I am a romantic and I believe in true love and I would like to find true love in my life too, be it at first sight or the second. I also believe that Cinderella encourages young girls to play nice, to fight evil with kindness and goodness, to support each other and stop the bullying. It also shows that if you play nice and stick to your way of thinking, you can achieve what you want. You can win without changing who you are, because you are beautiful as you are. Some might say that Cinderella has the advantage of her beautiful looks and I can agree with them. However, beauty is such a subjective concept, so she might look pretty to some people while others might have a different opinion. In addition, though, our world is changing ever so slightly, you will never convince me that the outside beauty doesn’t matter. It has mattered for centuries and it still matters, because all first impressions, which a crucial while living in a contemporary society, are based on looks.

So, to sum up, I loved this movie, it dragged at some place but it was still a feast for my eyes and for my heart. “Enjoy it while it lasts” – I certainly did and escaped my life in order to spend a few hours in a fairy-tale.

Trailer: Cinderella (2015) trailer

Rate: 4.5/5

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