I could feel my knees trembling as the weightlessness of the airplane lifting off the ground overtook me. At last, after months and months of anticipation, today was the day. My older sister, Indre, and I were finally on our way to our native-born country of Lithuania. Our anticipation was astronomical, to say the least. We had been packing for days upon days for our three week long journey to come. The flight to Lithuania had only one layover, which was in Amsterdam. However, this layover lasted for a total of ten hours, so my sister and I decided we would gather up our courage and venture out into scenic downtown Amsterdam. The city did not let us down by any means. We walked from street to street, soaking in the slightly familiar culture, and then sat down for an appetizing lunch. Before we knew it, the time had come to head back to the airport and prepare for our final flight to Lithuania. Our excitement grew greater and greater as we landed in the airport in Vilnius, Lithuania, the capital city of the country. My grandmother and uncle were there, waiting patiently, with open arms ready to welcome us. It had been nearly a decade since my sister and I had visited Lithuania, and we were overjoyed to be back. My uncle drove us back to my grandmother’s ninth story condo, after a full twenty-four hour journey. The moment we stepped through the door, we were greeted by my aunt and two young cousins. In the few weeks we were there, my sister and I were amazed by the sights we saw. Their way of living was slightly different than what we are accustomed to in the United States. Fewer people own cars. Therefore, trolley buses are common around the city. Also, many people choose to walk to their destinations, as communities are built much closer together. Along with the traditional tourist areas such as brilliant shopping malls and quaint bistros, we were shown beautiful, historic monuments. Because Lithuania is located on the Baltic Sea, we visited the most popular beach, Palanga. Although the water was still considerably chilly, we couldn’t resist dipping our toes in the water along the pure white sand. The waves were truly majestic. My favorite part of the trip, however, was our visit to Gedimino Pilis, a castle located right in the center of the country. Gedimino Pilis, in my eyes, is the epitome of a gorgeous princess castle, just as I had imagined as a little girl. It is hundreds of years old, and formerly housed the king of Lithuania. It was built complete with a moat and drawbridge, and has now been turned into a museum and made open to the public. It is truly the most jaw-dropping scene I have ever witnessed. After all of our expeditions and time spent with family, the trip was quickly coming to an end. My sister and I were forced to say our tear-filled goodbyes to our extended family and were departed home. With us, we brought home not only photographs and souvenirs, but also new memories and an appreciation for our way of life. From this trip, I learned to be more thankful for the opportunities my family obtained by moving to the United States. My trip to Lithuania broadened my horizons, and for that, I am grateful.
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