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: Far from the Madding Crowd

Movie reviews

Hello!

Let’s take a break from big summer blockbusters and Hollywood comedies and review a British independent film Far from the Madding Crowd, which might be an awards contender later this year.

To begin with, I would like to admit that I am a huge fan of British classical literature, I especially adore the novels and the authors from the late Romantic Period/Victorian Era. (I’m currently reading Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte). I also really enjoy movies made in the UK and made by the people living there. I feel like they are very refreshing and a nice break from Hollywood. I tend to watch a lot of motion pictures that come from Hollywood, so it’s nice to squeeze in a refresher once in a while. (I limit myself to these 2 countries (UK and US) because I know English language the best out of all foreign languages). In short, to my mind, British films have a unique style and an extraordinary view on the world, which I really admire.

Despite the fact that I would consider myself to be a book nerd, I haven’t actually read the Thomas Hardy’s novel Far from the Madding Crowd before going to see the film. I usually try to read the book before watching the movie but the circumstances worked against me this time. However, I have already got this book from the library and I am eager to read it. In addition, this is not the first time when Hardy’s novel is adapted into the motion picture – this is the 4th film based on this classical book. 

IMDb summary: In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor.

Visual appeal

Victorian England is one of my favorite historical eras, so I really loved the setting and simple but beautiful decorations of this film. Most of the action took place in a rural area which had amazing and breathtaking scenery of nature. The costumes and the hairstyles were also magnificent and true to the historical facts as far as I know.

Directing 

The film is directed by a Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg. Sadly, I am not familiar with his work but I really liked what he did in this movie. The cut-to-black transition seemed a bit abrupt sometimes, but they worked well other times, so maybe he should have cut the number of those and revisited their placement. The film’s screenplay was written by David Nicholls – an English novelist and screenwriter. This is not Nicholls’s first time working with classical literature as the main source. He wrote quite a few screenplay’s for BBC adapting Dickens’s, Bronte’s and even Shakespeare’s works to the small screen.

Acting

This movie has a pretty well know and accomplished cast:

Carey Mulligan star as the main character Bathsheba Everdene. I loved how Bathsheba was a strong, independent woman but was still able to be soft on the inside. She was a hopeless romantic and made mistakes in the name of love, but always went back to being a powerful, intelligent and free – an extraordinary occurrence when you considered the time that she lived in. I really enjoyed Mulligan’s performance. Although, my favorite role of hers is still the one in Never Let Me Go – another small British film – a dystopian romance with Keira Knightley and ex-Spider-man Andrew Garfield. Carey was also really good in The Great Gatsby as Daisy. No matter how much you hate the character of Daisy, you cannot not to admit that Mulligan is amazing in that role. Also, as an author and youtuber John Green has said in a Crash Course video on The Great Gatsby – you don’t have to like the character to enjoy the story. Anyway, I went off topic, let’s go back.

Matthias Schoenaerts plays Gabriel Oak – one of 3 love interest of Bathsheba. Gabriel was the most like-able character of the film. His intentions were always pure, his actions – selfless and his words – always truthful. Matthias Schoenaerts did a really nice job. The only other movie of his that I saw was The Loft (the remake version) which I enjoyed, although everybody hated it. I’m interested to see the original Loft where Schoenaerts  plays the same role as in the remake.

Michael Sheen plays William Boldwood – the character who receives the saddest and the most undeserving end. Although, Michael Sheen is a very famous and established actor, I was introduced to him in the Twilight movies. Don’t judge, I was a 12 year old once too. Although, the Volturi family was the best part of that franchise, so maybe it’s not that bad that recognized him from there. I at least know who he is right? Let’s move on.

Tom Sturridge was Sergeant Frank Troy – the last of the love interests. It took me some time to get pass his mustache but his charisma turned him into a definite scene-stealer. Though you could sense that he was bad news, you couldn’t resist him, his smile or his witty tongue.

Juno Temple stared as Fanny Robin – a character who also got an undeserving end. I feel like she was the opposite of Bathsheba – a weaker woman, who depended way too much on the man, Frank Toy to be precise, and, as a result – ended up the way she did (NO SPOILERS). But you can’t really blame her – she was a prisoner of her era and a convict of the circumstances. I would love to see more of actress’s Juno Temple’s work. I have only seen a few movies that she was in and she had really minor roles in those. 2013 Chilean-American psychological thriller Magic Magic seems to be the best option for those, who want to really see what this actress can do.

Music

This movie features a song by Carey Mulligan and Michael Sheen, which I really enjoyed and listened quite a few times outside the cinema. You are welcomed to hear it here: Let No Man Steal Your Thyme. I also really loved the opening and closing instrumental tracks as well as the Far From the Madding Crowd Love Theme. You can find all the soundtrack here.

All in all, I really enjoyed this film for many reason, which are stated above in my review. I would love to see this film getting some attention during the awards season, although it is unlikely for that to happen. Anyway, it wins my own personal Oscar, which is much better that any Academy Award or Golden Globe.

Rate 5/5

Trailer: Far From the Madding Crowd trailer

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