|Lovely Rasa came to meet me at the cafe next door on Gedimino Prospectas|
Rasa is the daughter of my cousin, Vida. Vida's mother, Apemija, was my dad's sister. So, Rasa and me share the same grand parents, only for her, they're her great grandparents.
|Last Common Ancestors of Rasa and I|
Rasa is a real star. After independence she went to Sweden to work and save up as much as she could to invest in her dream to buy a restaurant. It's people like her that have pulled Lithuania up back onto its feet after fifty years of Soviet rule.
As we arrived at her house she said.
"We have a dog"
"It is very big"
I started to panic. I don't really like dogs at the best of times. Ever since one bit me under my eye when I bent down to pat one in half moon wood, in Kirkby when I was 10 years old. The thought of a big dog heading straight for my goolies really does not appeal.
As she opened the door and walked across to the dog, I got the joke.
|Like my daughter, Rasa has the cutest dog "Ach"?|
Even I couldn't help but find the little puppy (four months old) irresistible.
One of the things I wanted to do on this trip was to visit the Geographic center of Europe which, it is claimed by many, is in Lithuania, close to Vilnius.
People always think of countries like Poland and the Czech Republic as being in "Eastern Europe" but technically, they are in the West. It is often forgotten just how big Russia is and how much of it is in Europe - up to the Urals, remember.
|The Center of Europe is probably in Lithuania|
It's very complicated and controversial, of course. Do you count Iceland, if so, how? And where do you draw the line in Turkey? Is Azerbaijan in Europe? Is Kazhakstan? etc. Not surprisingly there are many claims, some in Poland, some in Belarus, some in Ukraine. Of course, Lithuanians claim it's here, so I wanted to go there myself.
|The woman in the ticket office could talk the legs off a donkey|
Not quite my cup of tea but it was nice to go for a walk in the woods anyway.
|Lots of big arty objects in the park|
|Supposedly the exact center of Europe - another spot nearby was later given that title|
|I resisted climbing in and being spun around|
After that, Rasa drove me to her restaurant just 200 meters from my hotel on Gedimino Prospectas.
|Rasa's Vegitarian Resaurant - on the best street in Vilnius|
|Patch of grass|
|I opted for a nice salad - a break from the usual very hearty cuisine|
|Rasa had two lovely friends over from New York, Simona and Valdas.|
Rasa has two Radharane vegetarian restaurants in Vilnius. In a city renowned for it's hearty and highly calorific cuisine, she very wisely got into the healthy vegetarian food market before it became trendy.
After a great but all to short conversation with Rasa and her friends, I looked at my watch and noticed I had only 15 minutes before the next match.
Got to watch.
So, a little sheepishly, I said my goodbyes and headed for the nearest bar that would be showing the football. I ended up in one on my own watching Sweden v South Korea. I wrote yesterdays blog as I watched it. It was a very dull match and this was pretty much the only moment of note...
I finished the blog post off back here at the hotel and so for the next match I again struggled to get to a bar in time. I always try to go to traditional, local pubs but on this occasion time was running out so I went in the closest, but hardly the most traditional - Hooters!
|The closest bar showing football was Hooters|
The bar maids were, of course, very attractive and the beer wasn't bad either.
I quickly found myself chatting with a bunch of Polish guys who were on their way to Moscow to watch Poland v Senegal tomorrow. They were clearly having a great time knocking back the beers and having a good laugh. They'd occasionally break into one of their Polish chants.
All five of them lived in England, in Lytham St Anne's near Blackpool.
|Polish lads on tour - from Lytham St Anne's|
|Belgium laboured in the first half against Panama|
|On their was to Moscow, they will not be moved|
|Hooters had eight screens showing Lithuanian basketball (Zalgiris v Rytas) and one showing the World Cup|
|Five drunken Poles having a great time|
|Back to Republic 4 for the England game|
England started really well and could easily have been 2-0 up in the first few minutes. But it all seemed to be going their way when in the 11th minute Harry Kane grabbed England's first goal in this World Cup. Typical goal poacher's goal, being in the right place at the right time and cooling slotting it in.
They continued to look sharp and really, the only aspect they seemed to be lacking is in the clinical finishing department as chance after chance went begging.
Then, with pretty much their first threatening attack, Tunisia lobbed in an innocuous looking cross and Kyle Walker was adjudged to have clattered their striker with his left arm and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. So Tunisia equalised. I was furious at the time but fury turned to frustration as England continued to dominate, Lingaard hitting the post and a decent appeal for a penalty for a foul on Kane turned down.
As the second half wore on, England seemed to have run out of ideas and it looked like we were in for the usual cocktail of bad luck, bad refereeing decisions turning into frustration. England had eight shots on target, to Tunisia's 1 but just couldn't score. It looked like another grim start to a major competition until that man Harry Kane, again, got the winner right at the death.
|Harry Kane grabs the winner|
|Grandson of the former long-serving Lithuanian ambassador to London, Stasys Bačkis.|
|Lived until he was 93 years old|
Group F has a very odd look about it.
Group G looks better though.
Tomorrow Group H starts and then we flip back round to Group A and Russia's second game against Egypt.