We arrived in Vilnius late in the evening on the Wednesday night before the pride parade. It was not an easy trip, as it involved several dashes through the UK airport as we struggled to catch our connecting flight.
The first leg of the trip took us from Kuala Lumpur to London’s Stratford airport, a 13 hour flight. We had 2 hours to make a connecting flight to Vilnius, but huge lines through mandatory UK immigration slowed us down. Three staffers were leisurely checking the passports of several hundred passengers. After an hour of waiting, Chad spoke with a staffer to let us shortcut the rest of the line, which allowed us just enough time to race to the Star1 airport counter for the flight to Lithuania. This was again followed by more check points, security, and trying to make it the correct gate via train. We made the flight, and at 10pm the plane touched down at the Vilnius airport.
We had our first glimpse of the city as we traveled that night by taxi to a guest house near the central train station. The taxi, driven by a young 20-something guy, took us through the old center of town, very quickly as the streets were deserted. Even completely exhausted and jetlagged, the old center of Vilnius looked impressive with huge churches around every corner, and its’ well kept architecture.
The next morning we were able to explore the city further, but it was pretty miserable weather outside – cold and rainy. We also discovered the area seriously lacked places to buy umbrellas. After walking around the city streets for a few hours, we stopped by the Conti Hotel to pick up our registration material for the pride march. Members of the “Baltic Pride 2010” team provided us with materials, and information on the Human Rights conference and LGBT film festival that are also taking place, as well as a safety leaflet with emergency numbers and safety advice for all those attending the pride events.
One of the most central activities of Baltic Pride is the Equality march that takes place on Saturday. The organizers have already overcome many obstacles and hurdles so that they can hold the parade and their battles are not yet over. However, if they are able to hold the march it will be the very first pride parade held in Lithuania.