To Gotland!

Trip Start Jun 08, 2010
Trip End Sep 07, 2010

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Flag of Sweden  , Gotland,
Saturday, June 19, 2010

I grabbed my pack and walked north along the coast towards the aged fort-like wall dating back to the 1200s encircling the old town.  There was a hostel just inside the wall which used to be a prison, complete with thick stone walls and barbed wire.  I checked in, dropping off my pack, and started a wander around the old town.  Visby, the old Hanseatic trading port complete with ruins of medieval churches abandoned after the Reformation.  The island was a kingdom to itself falling alternately under the control of the Danes and the Swedes.
After a few days stay in Visby I met up with James and Cecilia who had been busy preparing for their wedding along with their families at the ferry port and upon meeting we piled into cars and headed inland towards where Cecilia's family lived, rural Gotland revealed complete with the wildflowers and bright green grass characteristic of places with nearly perpetual daylight in the Summer months.  The scenery looked as though it mostly hadn't been changed in over a century.  Old windmills complete with stone wall foundations and wooden blades juxtapposing the more sleek modern windfarms in the distance generating some of the island's electricity.
We made our way to where Cecilia's family lived and the traditional meal began; steamed potatoes with dill, meat patties with gravy, a requirement to keep eating the amazing food between glasses of wine.  I stayed with many of the guests in a bygdegärd, a gathering house common in towns across rural Sweden, supported by the local community, where events are often held.
The wedding ceremony was held outdoors in a semi-treed field with wildflowers, the procession beginning with women playing violins and ending with a shot of schnapps for everybody willing and able. The reception was structured and relaxed at the same time, spit-roasted lamb, the greatest smoked salmon ever, a Gotlandic brew traditionally enjoyed by the vikings; us homebrewers would liken it to wort, like beer but without carbonation.  A great time had by all complete with 60s era band and partying into the 3am Swedish sunrise.
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