We returned to the micronation for lunch, and to get our stamps for this universally unrecognized nation. At the barliament, we ordered ‘foreign’ beer, and Lithuanian food, as the nation produces many more artists than chefs. There, we rubbed elbows with the president himself, who was at the next table arguing politics or art in Lithuanian. This country allegedly having a standing militia of eleven people, I was afraid to bother the gray-bearded man for fear that they might be waiting to protect the president at whatever the cost. As we left, we met with two Australians at the bar who were on our tour, and watched as the bartender stamped the instruction pages of our passports with what I gathered was a mix of jealousy (as they had forgotten their passports) and secondhand embarrassment that we were actually stamping our real passports with fake stamps. I don’t care who you are, you are never too old to play pretend.
The Republic of Užupis (OO-zoo-PEACE) is officially a neighborhood, meaning “beyond the river” in Lithuanian. It has historically been a neighborhood for artists, and declared itself to be its’ own country in 1997. The nation’s parliament, housed in a bar on the banks of the Vilnius River, is commonly known as their “Barliament,” actually has a working stamp and is where Užupis’ politicians, namely their current president, discuss policy and art. The chief pride of the nation, I believe, is the constitution which often has contradictory instructions to the citizens of the nation such as “don’t fight,” “don’t give up,” and “don’t surrender.” The constitution, thanks to the donations from many countries, has been translated into 38 languages and placed on a place for each language and hung on a brick wall in the north part of the 148-acre country.
Another beautiful part of the micronation is their Tibet Square. Flags of Tibet fly occasionally in windows and above doors in Užupis because the micronation has used their faux-independence to demonstrate their belief that Tibet should be an independent state. Tibet Square is decorated with authentic Buddhist symbols and Tibetan prayer flags. In fact, the Dalai Lama visited the area in 2013 and is an honorary citizen of the micronation.
Victor Bernabei is just another millenial travel blogger. But here's the twist: He isn't a millenial! His goal is to see as many countries as he can, and spread the message that the world is not as scary as the news wants you to believe, and that there is beauty in all people, places and things.