Forget all of Europe’s other pint-sized countries—San Marino, Vatican City, Monaco, and Lichtenstein all pale in swagger to Vilnius’s artistic micronation: the Republic of Užupis. And if there’s any district in Lithuania’s capital that will paint a smile on your face, it’s right here in Vilnius’s bohemian quarter where weird is no longer optional.
By the time I reached Vilnius, I knew I had enough. Strolling through clamorous cities like Helsinki, St Petersburg, Moscow, and Minsk wore on me: the honking horns, crowded markets, wall-to-wall pedestrians—I needed an escape. After hearing of Zervynos, a Lithuanian ethnographic village about 2 hours from Vilnius, I knew I found the perfect solution: it was time to get off the grid.