Tours of Visby and Krukmakarens Hus

Trip Start Jan 08, 2010
Trip End Sep 27, 2010

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Flag of Sweden  , Gotland,
Sunday, January 17, 2010

Yesterday we were taken on a guided tour of Visby.  Peter and Pekka were our guides, Peter being the administrator and Pekka being a fellow student who has studied Gotland's history and folk lore so he knows heaps.

Our house is in the middle of the walled city so we started off toward the harbour and out of the wall.  Pekka showed us a spot right near the ground where we could see a wooden beam used to run across the entrance and just above it were some old hinges.  He tried to convince us that people back then had been very small so that's why the gate was so low, but of course it was just because over time the wall has sunk into the ground so now it's only about half as high as it was originally.  He said that the wall is actually a bit lower at that point than around the other side though and that's because it used to be right next to the harbour.  The natural harbour was later filled in and a new one built further out, so now there is a big park and the uni and library where the harbour once was

We then walked down to the water and around the wall next to the ocean, very beautiful. Then in through the botanic gardens which are apparently quite a sight in the spring and summer but covered in snow at the moment of course.  Further around the wall they have rebuilt the wooden structures that would have been around the surviving stone towers so now you can walk up in the towers where the archers would have been.  On the outside of the wall there we saw the 'mote' which is on a hill so never had any water in it but provided a hindrance to attackers anyway.  It was covered with snow so Pekka tried to tell us it is proof that the Swedes invented the ski halfpipe.  That may not be true but it did give us an idea and we are going to pinch the school toboggans and take them for a spin there sometime.

After that we walked further around the outside of the wall and then went in at a place where the old coin mint used to be.  There is no original building there anymore but you can see scars on the wall where the building would have joined onto it.  Now there is a normal residential house plonked on the site.  Still finding it very odd how the wall and the other historical sites are still so much in use and so accessable.  The mint was on a hill called Rackarbacken or 'Rascal's Hill' which was where the 'rascals' lived.  The rascals were the lowest of the lower classes and they assisted the hangman with execustions and cleaned out toilets and stuff like that. so they had houses right up next to the wall (near the gallows which were just outside it) so no-one would have to live near them.  it is interesting to note that even though they lived away from everyone, they were still given a place to live inside the wall where it was safe, because even though they were low and dirty, they were still very important. who else would dig the graves and clean the loos?

We then walked back towards the centre of town towards our place, past various ruins of churches and one which was still intact.  Visby used to be a trade and shipping centre so lots of different nationalities were represented here and each one built their own church so they could teach in their own language.  Unfortunately though the Germans (before they bacame germans but i can't remember what they were called, something starting with L), broke into the city and burnt all the churches down except for one which they took over for themselves (if i remember rightly). so there are church ruins everywhere and one really pretty one still standing.

so that was the tour of Visby, more info will be with the photos.

We also made a video tour of Krukmakarens Hus so you could see where we live but it was too big to upload so you'll have to wait til we get home.  We took some still photos instead so have a squiz.  Unfortunately you won't get to see Pete whack his head on a cupboard, but never mind, it's bound to happen again one day.

We have just come back from a tobogganning trip. We found a dicky little toboggan at the school so we took her out for a spin. it was so much fun but we must have looked like real tourists - we were squealing and taking pictures and running around like maniacs getting in the way of the little kids. (pete writing now) We were happy playing on the smaller hills, but then we saw the mother of all toboggan runs! It was a mountain compared to the others. Everyone was putting on helmets, but not me! I shoved all the kids aside and went for it. WAAAAAAAAH! I was racing down getting air off each rise and fall going a hundred miles an hour! tearing through the wreckage of past attempts! (myf again) yes pete, very heroic.

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Caleb and Jen on

We've just gotten back from our trip and read four blogs in a row. It all sounds amazing although -14C looks pretty daunting. Pete are you wearing socks as gloves in one of the early photos? Also, what do people usually eat up there, if the winter greens are so expensive? I saw an ad for Ikea Foods a few days back.
It was interesting to see how colourful all the buildings were, everything in France was very grand but utterly, utterly colourless. I had no idea there was a colour between off-white and beige but the French have really gone with it. Sweden's architecture looks totally RAD.
Anyway is there a phone we can call you on or something? We have much to tell ye. And of course we will be carefully analysing your voices for any trace of a developing Swedish accent.

Angela on

It's wonderful that it is all stil so exciting and that you are coping with the cold - although it must be reasonably tropical indoors as your variegated fig tree seems pretty cheerful (unless, that is, it is suffering horribly and dying slowly of chlorosis!)! While you are coping with unremitting cold and snow we have been having a weird summer - hot and windy (mainly), with occasional surprisingly cool-cold days (all this is relative of course - not your style of cold at all) and this morning the skies turned the deepest blue-grey and while I was out taking photos of the spectacular cloud and sky effects, the air quite suddenly turned cold and then we had a terrific hail storm. Ran back indoors, shook my head when I was in the porch and a hundred hailstones fell out of my hair and scattered around my feet (and, yes, I counted them). Eating embarrassing quantities of summer fruits (cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums etc) and most of our meals (other than meat, fish and cheese) come pretty directly from the garden and the chooks which is producing enough to feed an army (or at least our neighbourhood - I trot around every day or two distributing zucchinis, cucumbers, beans etc!). Maybe I should send them to you two in Visby - although they may not be too fresh by the time they arrive there although they'd still be cheap!
Thanks for the stories and pictures - look forward to the next instalment.
Angela xxx

P A on

That Pekka most been the best guide you ever had!

theevans on

argh pekka, sneaking into our blog! sneaky

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