We've been freezing our-well, let's just say it's been chilly in Vilnius this winter. In need of memories of warmer times, our teammates have been meeting up and heading to KABLYS, a soviet-era building in a dodgy area near the central station. Don't worry, you can't miss it; it's the acropolis-like building with a giant metal hook. Inside is a home for our new favourite underground sport-pétanque.
If you've ever been to France (or at least seen a French movie), you probably have an idea of what pétanque is. And you probably think it's something for your granddad to play in August. Not in the middle of a Vilnius winter. But here, pétanque is the newest sport for After Hours Athletes.
When you get to KABLYS, ask for Marius. He's responsible for this weird playground, known as Vilniaus Petanke, next to an indoor skate park. Marius says that athletes coming to play at Vilniaus Petanke range from the same skaters who shred next door to ministry clerks who are buttoned-up by day and ready teammates by night.
The game looks simple: Just grab a metal ball and toss it as close as possible to the target ball. That's it. Easy? Well, factor in a few pints and it gets harder than it looks. But despite our troubles, we were hooked.
According to Marius, that's pretty common: "People easily get hooked on pétanque and end up buying their own play sets and coming every night." And keep in mind that it's crazy cheap to play pétanque here - one visit will cost you around eight euros (that's two beers in your local bar, isn't it?).
What do we love most about Vilniaus Petanke? At first it was the incredible setting - a post-apocalyptic palace that mixes royal decor with graffiti. (Trust us, your Instagram will thank you.) Then we realized the best part was the new teammates we kept meeting. There's nothing like having competitive guys dropping their balls and suggesting a round of beer to celebrate your win. And where there's beer, everyone is a winner.
Photos courtesy of Eugenijus Barzdžius.