Today, Ismael (the Galician Spanish guy I mentioned in the previous post) and I went to Trakai, which is roughly 45 minutes outside Vilnius. My tour book highly recommended a day trip there, and I was not disappointed.

Panoramic view of the train ride, featuring Ismael.

Panoramic view of the train ride, featuring Ismael.

The first thing we saw when getting off the train was this absolutely gorgeous lake with lush greenery as far as one could see. We had to stop for pictures.

Gatve Lake. Notice the artistic boat in the corner? I'm getting good at this...

Gatve Lake. Notice the artistic boat in the corner? I’m getting good at this…

After that, we embarked on the roughly 2 mile walk from the train station to the castle…which was actually quite nice since it was mid-70s with a nice breeze, and because the entire walk is along a thin inlet surrounded by the aforementioned lake.

The castle looks like it’s out of a fairy tale: brick-red (much like Wawel) and the lone building on an island in the middle of the lake.  Although it is definitely a castle, it is a little smaller than the other castles I’ve seen in Europe; I think this actually adds to its coolness.

A view of Trakai from the bridge connecting the inlet to the island.

A view of Trakai from the bridge connecting the inlet to the island.

The castle actually has a long story associated with it. It housed the Karaites, which is a religious sect from Baghdad who practice strict adherence to the Torah (rejecting the Talmud) and read in both Hebrew and Arabic. It seems pretty random, but the Grand Duke of Lithuania brought several hundred Karaite families from Crimea to Trakai around 1400 AD to serve as bodyguards. So it’s random they’re here, but not that random.

I'm sure some of you wouldn't mind if I was locked up here for good.

I’m sure some of you wouldn’t mind if I was locked up here for good.

Random old building on the inlet side.

Random old building on the inlet side.

Scale model of the island. The real island must be at least...three times this size.

Scale model of the island. The real island must be at least…three times this size.

Overall, a great day trip, and something I feel everyone should do if they come to Vilnius. One more panoramic for good measure:

Hey, that's me!

Hey, that’s me!

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