Don’t make me get the tank

Once upon a time, there was an eccentric mayor in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Usually I hate tours. I mean, I really hate tours.

But there’s one type of tour that I’ve gotten into while traveling in Eastern Europe- free walking tours. I say “free” sarcastically, because if you like the tour, you’re asked to tip the guide at the end. On the bright side, that means that your guide is working for tips. Therefore he/she will usually be more energized, knowledgeable, and customer service oriented.

So the other day, I found a guide to show me around Vilnius, Lithuania. He was from Vilnius with Locals, a walking tour group based in Lithuania.

Vilnius with Locals
Arminas talking about stuff. I wasn’t listening because I was busy taking his picture.

While most guides will regale you with history that you’ll promptly forget, Arminas was different. He talked about interesting things that I care about, like cats and beer. But the best story he told was about the crazy former mayor of Vilnius, Arturo Zuokas.

As mayor, Zuokas’ big project was to establish bike lanes throughout the city to change the main mode of transportation from cars to bikes. Most of the locals liked this idea. I mean hey, it was eco-friendly.

There was only one problem: cars kept illegally parking in the bike lane. That meant that anyone trying to ride their bike would have to swerve into the main road to avoid parked cars. This was a big problem for the mayor.

So what did the mayor do? He ran over one of the cars with a tank.

And then the city made stickers which warned Don’t make me get the tank. The stickers were handed out around the city for free. Locals even started pinning them on cars parked illegally in the bike lane. Needless to say, it was a very successful campaign.

There’s even a video to prove it.

And wait! There’s more that you have to know about Vilnius. For one, some of them love George W. Bush. They literally have a plaque about it at the town hall. Also, the first IKEA opened in Lithuania. It’s not even a Lithuanian company. That’s about as crazy as it gets, folks.

According to Arminas, their second most popular religion in Lithuania is Basketball. Oh, and they have one of the fastest internet connections in the world. So, obviously, Vilnius is a must-see.

Don’t park in the bike lane in Vilnius- the mayor will get the tank.

But that tank story, I think, is the best taste of Vilnius- a quirky city where you can ride your bike in the bike lane without hassle. I love a city that solves a problem with a tank.

Thanks to Arminas (aka Harry Potter) and Vilnius with Locals for an awesome introduction to Lithuania.

What would you do if your mayor ran over your car with a tank? Leave a reply to let me know. Until next time- Saludos!


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