Celebrating Your Cultural Heritage (continued)

Grybas House in Vilnius                      Photo by Ann Charles

Lithuanian sculptor, Juozas Zikaras      Photo by Ann Charles

Information on the Baltic Sea Tourism Commission (BTC) was available in the World Destination Hall, at an exhibit located right next to the Scandinavian Tourist Boards. Located elsewhere was the German National Tourist Office, which happens as well to be a member of the BTC. Other European exhibitors at the show included among others the Croatian National Tourist Board, Berlin Tourism, and Czech Tourism.

Members of the travel trade were particularly impressed with the group tour that included all three Baltic capitals. This tour, of the Medieval capitals of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, featured the major Baltic cities, including Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania, Riga, the capital of Latvia, and Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, plus much more. (Check this website in the future for information on tours to the Baltic countries.)

Generally speaking, she adds, "we want the world to 'Go Baltic Europe'. That is why we launched a new website called GoBalticEurope during the event. The website is actually an online travel magazine covering Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and other hot destinations in Europe.

Ms. Charles also organized the Lithuanian cultural presentations for the show, which included performances by Lithuanian folk dancers, singers and musicians. The Vetra Lithuanian Folk Dancers of New Haven, Connecticut performed under the direction of Nancy Pawasauskas, Instructor/Manager, and Laura Zilyle, Assistant Instructor. The program was a mix of polka, quadrille and waltzes, and their ethnic costumes were both authentic and colorful.

During the show, soprano Angela Kiausas sang Lithuanian folk music, and was accompanied by Rimas Pranckevicius on the kankles (an ancient instrument similar to the zither), as two Lithuanian children, Indre Jankeviciute and Egidijus Jankevicius, appeared on the travel show's WNBC and WNJU stage in traditional folkloric costumes. A highlight of the cultural performance was when Edvinas Minkstimas played one of his original compositions on the piano. In addition, the music of legendary Lithuanian composer M. K. Ciurlionis was emphasized at the event. Mr. Minkstimas accompanied soprano Angela Kiausas on the piano.

Fine arts and commercial photographer Algis Norvila, a Lithuanian American, presented a slide program on the architectural sites of Vilnius, Kaunas, and the countryside. In addition, Swedish writer/photographer Bo Zaunders presented a "Baltic Portfolio." This included images of the Scandinavian countries, including Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Estonia. Ms. Charles, organizer of the seminar, introduced both speakers at the event.

Travel enthusiasts were able to browse through copies of several travel guides including the "Baltic Phrasebook," "Scandinavian & Baltic Europe," "Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania," and "Scandinavian & Baltic Europe on a Shoestring," all published by Lonely Planet. There were also a series of Bradt Travel Guides on Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the show, and even a book entitled "Vilnius et Trakai...Le Guide" was on hand at the exhibit to captivate the interest of those visitors to the show who were looking for the French connection.

"The Rough Guide to the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania)" and the "Landmark Visitors Guide Riga & Its Beaches" were also shown. Coffee table books on "Setomaa" (Estonia), "Amber - The Golden Gem of the Ages" (Patty C. Rice, Ph.D.) and "All About Lithuania During EU Integration" (Algimantas) were also on view at the show.

The cultural backdrop for the exhibit centered on the folkloric artworks of Rimas Pranckevicius. Most impressive at the exhibit was his tall statue of a woman called "Lietuva" holding a piece of amber that was sculptured from wood. It was featured against a backdrop of images from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In addition, three different variations of the kankles (similar to the zither) were on display, as well as prominent religious figures. Baltic amber, known as Lithuanian gold, was beautifully displayed at the exhibit.

Continue the Journey!

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