Best Preserved Medieval City of Scandinavia

Trip Start May 20, 2009
Trip End Oct 15, 2009

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Where I stayed
Lena Lager's house

Flag of Sweden  , Gotland,
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I am on the beautiful island of Gotland, in the Baltic Sea, east of the Swedish mainland. I flew into Stockholm and took several buses and trains to arrive at the ferry harbor of Nynäshamn. The ferry departed at 9pm and took 3 hours to reach Visby, the main town of Gotland. There were about 600 passengers on the ferry, about one third of the number in July when tourism is at its peak. I was met at the terminal by my friend Lena Lager, and a former Innisfree volunteer from 1999. She came with her husband and 2 teenagers to stay at Innisfree for one year. The kids are now adults, Karin is halfway thru medical school in Gothenburg and Simon works as a bartender and disc jockey in a nightclub in Visby. Lena and Stig have a companionable separation and live across the street from each other. I was lucky to see everybody this visit. Lena was still on her summer holidays so we went for bike rides and lay on the beach and even went in for a swim in the Baltic. The days have been bright and sunny, as my whole summer has been.

Visby has been around since the 900's at least, was a member of the Hanseatic League in the 1200's and still retains most of the city wall built in the 12 and 1300's. Lena lives inside the city wall and the houses are very beautiful and kept up nicely. There are also about 6 churches in the inner city which are left as ruins and are just part of the landscape.

A few things about Swedish people - they love coffee (any time of the day or night) and love the sun (perhaps because they don't get it very often). I saw many people lying on the beach, 60 years of age in bikini's and topless; working on their tan. Here on Gotland, they often prefer the bike to the car, as most things are close and the bike lanes are good and plentiful. Having a car inside the city walls is not very practical either. I have never been here in the winter, but imagine it is quite a different place. I brought Alex here 7 years ago, for the medieval festival, held early August of every year.

It has been a very relaxing time here. Coming from Brussels and Berlin, I immediately felt calm and stress-free when I saw the sea. This is a very beautiful place and I highly recommend it for a relaxing vacation. It does take some effort to get here tho. I have had a wonderful time visiting with Lena; riding bikes, sharing meals, talking about our lives/parents/children/lovelives,having coffee, and swimming in the sea. Tusen takk. (I know it's Norwegian and I hope it's also Swedish)

While here I also signed a lease for an apartment in Charlottesville and have applied for several jobs; I even had a phone interview. So, things are moving quickly now. I have a full day in Stockholm tomorrow, then fly to Belfast via London on friday. A wedding in N. Ireland on Saturday, a few more days there, then my last 2 days in London and flying home. I should manage one more entry in my summer's travel blog. Thanks for making the trip with me.
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