The bus from Vilnius rolls up to some rush hour traffic on approach to Kaunas. Ding ding lands a message from our forward scouting party the next country over, “The Oogie has landed!” Looks like the plan is coming together. Another agent has arrived in Riga, Latvia.
Given the debacle of the previous evening (Absinthe bar, karaoke w students, gold-plated AK, dance club, etc…) we consider our options re: blowing it up again and conclude we should probably up our respectability game. We cook up a new plan, instead of hitting a hostel and getting stupid we’ll get a (somewhat) nice hotel room, do some much-needed laundry, punch out some blog words and get up early to “blitz” the city again (as Murphy so gracefully keeps putting it, then realizing immediately afterwards that that terminology may be somewhat inappropriate in these lands that for a time were Nazi-occupied). Mid-day tomorrow we’ll jump on a bus to Riga and meet up with the Oogman. Keep it somewhat chill tonight. That sounds like a solid plan…
“He says before one beer…”
We check into Magnus Hotel a short distance from the bus station, it’s convenient and only $50 or so for a double room. No laundry service unfortunately, but they do have a rooftop bar…
We get up to our room, toss our shit down and flick on the TV while I borrow Murphy’s sewing kit to make some repairs to my cargo pants – blew out a cargo zipper in Wroclaw. The result is functional – shit doesn’t fall out – but obvious that it was accomplished by someone with next-to-zero skill in the matter. And someone with multi-coloured thread.
Flicky-flick through some channels for a split sec. There’s some news about Trump getting impeached, yada yada, a hot commercial of two dudes shaving each other, ok…
But the big news item of the day is the skyrocketing of onion prices in Asia. There’s a lengthy exposé that talks about it for a full 30 minutes. Guess a drought followed by poor harvest in India has led to them banning exports to save the onions for domestic consumption. An eye watering topic, indeed.
We head up to the panoramic sky bar on the 9th floor. Floor to ceiling glass walls show off the surrounding city. Pretty decent view alright. Decent menu too. There are two local dudes in here sitting in front of an older blonde bartender girl with the ‘I’ve seen it all and don’t give a fuck’ vibe going. One of the local guys is going out for a smoke as we roll up to the bar. “We’ll take over”, “Yes please do.” The other guy is swaying in his seat a bit. He says, “Try this wine, it is the best I’ve tried in my life.”
We grab a couple beer and take over a table in the corner. Whip out the phones and we start looking up things to do. There’s a “devil’s museum” which sounds metal as fuck. There’s also an old fort, a castle that sounds similar to Trakai, and an old town that is apparently different than that of Vilnius. Should be easy to fill a day here.
The locals at the bar seem like nice guys. Swaying guy yells over, “Excuse me is the music ok?”, it’s generic house music, “Yeah, yeah it’s great”, “Ok, just making sure.”
We order up a spread of garlic bread and onion rings, nothing too fancy, just something to mix in with the beer and hold us over until we head out for a proper dinner.
We dip outside to get a rooftop look at the town. A lounge version of Michael Jackson’s Beat It is playing out on the deck. Yep, good view.
Loungy MJ is followed by Glambeats Corp’s rendition of GnR’s You Could Be Mine.
The food comes and it’s surprisingly fantastic. We were expecting Pizza Delight deep fried bullshit and ended up with mid-gourmet. The cheese sauce is nice and there are red peppercorns to throw on every other bite. Great music, great view, great food. Nailed it.
One of the locals sitting up at the bar comes by and asks to borrow a charger. His port is broken and he needs USB. I give him my universal charger. He’s blown away, like he’s never seen a universal charger before. “What is that man? Whoa this thing exists.” “Yeah, it’s only 12 bucks.” “Wow, finally, this.” His name is Arthur and he’s a head chef that lived in Norway the last year and a half. But it was hell’s kitchen for him and his heart is here. “Like Gordon Ramsey, you know. Just like that.” He’s drunk as fuck but seems like a nice guy. His eyes are lolling about all over the place.
Arthur and his buddy implore us to come over and drink with them, saying they’ve got a pretty good bottle of wine on the go. So far we’ve only gotten as far as writing the title of a blog post, but we don’t wanna be rude. Time to get shit faced w Arthur.
We Introduce ourselves to his buddy. “I am Andis”, “Andis nice to meet you”, “No Amandis”, “Oh Amandis?”, “Yes.’
Amandis describes that he is getting his boating license. “To boat the Danube?”, “Yes exactly. Takes 4 weeks. Three days a week and after 6 o’clock so it’s nice. And international too”, “Oh that’s great.”
Arthur asks the server a question in Lithuanian. She responds in the negative and he tells us “Sorry guys, no flaming sambuca shots.” Instead he orders us four Jager shots. The server girl is wary, he definitely doesn’t look like a guy who needs a shot. But she’s fucking seen it all and goes ahead and pours them anyways.
I go to take a piss and when I come back there are what look like onion rings on the bar. Arthur insists I go ahead. Sure, the onion rings were dope, don’t mind eating a few more. I eat one… This tastes different than the previous ones. Try another… Wait, what is this? “Calamari.” Well fuck, I’m allergic to calamari. I don’t say anything but shuffle off to the bathroom to force myself to throw up.
Getting back from vomiting there’s a new local here and apparently he drank the Jager shot that was intended for me. Ah well.
As Arthur is talking he’s sloshing wine from his glass every which way, spilling it on his pants. Murphy and I leave a bit of splash buffer between us, but he almost gets his buddy who tells him to fucking cool it. Arthur says “I don’t fucking care, I’ll buy new pants tomorrow.” His buddy says, “I don’t care about your pants, don’t fucking spill it on me!” This guy is fucked and it’s starting to become apparent his friends are a bit annoyed with him.
Arthur asks us about our trip and why we’re here. We start telling him but he’s always cutting us off. “Let me ask a different way. Why? Why are you travelling?” We start to tell him about our adventures but he just doesn’t seem to like our answers. Or just doesn’t want to actually listen.
Then Arthur asks what we do and I tell him. He tells me I’m only focusing on the negative (I’m not at all) and don’t focus so much on the money (not once did I mention money). He says tell me again in thirty seconds. He starts counting. I ramble off the elevator pitch which culminates in “…we solve a lot of the world’s problems.” He’s still saying I’m focusing on the negative. Ok, this is fucking stupid now. Talking to shitfaced Arthur is like throwing uncooked spaghetti at the wall and expecting it to stick.
Getting nowhere, we switch the convo in his direction. Arthur says he’s an executive chef and makes 20 million. I ding him for going straight to talking about the money and ask but why, why do you cook for a living? He’s glossing over the point I’m making and pretends to be unaware that we’re blatantly calling him out/making fun of him now. “I just open restaurants and then leave. They make me money while I’m not there.” This is getting more and more unlikely.
“Oh you’re from California. Do you like weed?”, “On occasion, sure”, “That is the real reason I’m back. Lithuania has the best weed”, Murphy and I exchange a quick ‘that’s a fucking new one’ glance. “You want some weed? I’ll go roll some”, “Sure, we can smoke it on the roof”, and he stumbles out of his chair to go get some. He goes into the bathroom. “His weed is in the bathroom?”, “Yeah, I don’t know about this guy.”
Arthur comes back (sans weed as expected) and we start to dig a little deeper into his claim of being a world-class, restaurant-starting chef. “What’s your favorite dish to make?”, “Favorite dish?”, “Yeah, do you have a signature dish or something? What do the customers always come back for?”, “Salmon Curry”, “What? Really? Salmon curry?”, “Believe me it’s good. Ok. One time we made it with whiskey and brown sugar…” and his sentence trails off. Hmmm salmon, curry, whiskey, and brown sugar.. not sure if all those things actually pair, master chef. Bullshitometer is really ticking at this point
Murphy asks him whether he owns a restaurant here in town and he says yes. “What’s it called? we’ll go there for lunch tomorrow.” He goes into a long pause. Staring at the bar, his eyes are focused off in the distance as he’s trying to figure a way out of his own bullshit. We wait an awkwardly long time, darting eyes back and forth. Arthur is still thinking. Seriously a good twenty seconds go by where he says nothing and neither do we. We look at each other and McBurger’s telepathy reads, “this guy is sooooooo full of shit.”
Finally he says, “I can not tell you.” What the fuck? “Oh no, it’s a secret restaurant?” He says, “I’m not a superstitious guy but my friend is a partner and if I tell you he will lose money”, ” You’ll lose money if we go eat there? That makes zero sense, Arthur?” He tries to imply that it’s more complicated than we non-restaurateurs could comprehend…
And that’s all we need to hear. MacKay goes to pack up our shit and I settle up while Arthur slinks off to have a smoke. The server obliges us with very fast service, acknowledging that we’d like to get our bill and GTFO before he comes back inside. It’s clear she can’t stand the guy as well. We bail without bothering to say goodbye. Can’t waste time on pieces of shit like that.
New rule: If a guy’s eyes are rolling into the back of his head, don’t bother chatting him up.
We biff our stuff back in the room and go out to find some real dinner. We walk around looking for a place to eat. There’s nothing in this area at all. Shit. Sucks that we wasted our blogging time (or any time) on that sack of shit, Arthur.
The town is totally dead. Not much to look at in this area, just regular city streets. A little chilly out tonight too. We dip further towards old town and stumble upon a Ukrainian spot. This should do just fine.
There’s a ridiculously adorable waitress who translates the Russian menu for us. We get borscht, dumplings and chicken Kiev on her recommendation.
Good atmosphere in here, nice and chill. Some local ladies are having a great back and forth beside us over a bottle of wine. I think we’ve finally de-Arthured.
The food is great. Dumplings were rich and creamy. As has been the trend in this part of the world, it’s delicious but massive portions and difficult to finish.
We head back to Magnus to wind things down. Back in the room, I get some mood lighting going while James is in the shitter and strip down to my boxers. He comes out and sees me in full Burt Reynolds pose, “Oh my!”, “Welcome to Boxer Time! Lithuania Edition.”
Then we laugh at K-Pop videos into the wee hours like totally normal half naked dudes do after a long Arthur.