I’ve been back in Boston for nearly two weeks now and I’m finding myself missing Lithuania more than I did when I first returned home. Gone are the unsavory memories about rude people and the lack of ice cubes, and what remains are the experiences and the family. But what I wanted to enlighten you about are some more rapid-fire points about the differences between there and here.
* Malls in Lithuania are way, way better, hands down. Akropolis is the largest mall and is found in the three largest cities. I went to two of them. There are three floors of shopping and eating wonderment. And each has several currency exchange centers. But what makes Akropolis so cool is that it is organized according to store type. All shoe stores are clustered together, as are men’s clothing stores, ladies’ clothing stores, etc. What a concept. Also, Akropolis has a bowling alley and an ice skating rink.
* The grocery stores are also better than what we typically have here in the States. Similar to Akropolis, this is due to a new mega-chain called Maxima. They are everywhere (not just the biggest cities) and the selection of foods and beverages is exhaustive. And I went to a Maxima in an Akropolis that sells men’s suits, scooters, canoes, and on and on. I’m not saying I want to buy a suit at the supermarket, but still. It’s a nice option if your really under the gun.
* Of all the things you can find at Akropolis or Maxima, you won’t find light beer. Of all the countless restaurants and cafes I visited, none offered light beer. And the only light beer I found at Maxima was a brand with several fruity flavors. I passed.
* Since I’m on a supermarket roll, I also have to mention that the cashiers there are allowed to sit on stools. I’ve never seen that here. In the U.S., you have to stand for your 8-hour shift and you have to like it. Also, at all stores, the employees don’t hand you the money like they do here. There are money trays where the customer has to place the money and that’s where the cashier places your change. I’m still not sure why.
* Lithuania is also kicking our asses on the recycling front. You cannot drive more than a minute without seeing these ubiquitous yellow, blue, and green conical pods. These pods are for glass, paper, and plastic recyclable items. Great idea and something that should have been in place in the U.S. years and years ago, especially considering we’ve been celebrating Earth Day since 1970.