We had been trying, somewhat half-heartedly, to get to Lithuania for decades, but this year the stars feel into the right configuration. The focus was a chance to do a little genealogical research: my husband's mother immigrated to Scranton, PA., in 1926, his father was born in Scranton to immigrants who had arrived between 1900 and 1905. We started our journey in Kaunos, visited the home village of Balbierikis, enjoyed a couple of days in Nida on the Curonian Spit, and finished up in Vilnius. It was a marvelous eleven days and I am ready to trumpet the tourism value of the country to all who will listen. The church in Balbierikis, Holy Mary of the Rosary, is a little Baroque gem. This is where my husband's mother attended Mass, the site of weddings and funerals. The artistic sensibility of Lithuania seems to my eye sculptural, direct, personal. Forging was and is, I suppose, an important craft. Iron crosses abound in cemeteries, on churches, at roadsides.
Ellen B. Cutler, For The Baltimore Sun