Coast to Coast

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

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Flag of Sweden  , Gotland,
Thursday, April 8, 2010

We have had a very full and fun few days so this may be a longer blog and there are HEAPS of photos.  Remember last blog was all about food and eating too much? Well the week continued in this fashion with an Easter lunch on Sunday which was a bring a plate thing at the church for those of us who didn't have a family lunch to go to (sob).  It was lots of fun and much food was consumed before the church service, then after the service we ate more food!  Lots of fun.  Pete was very lucky and the Easter Bunny found him all the way up here in Swedenland and snuck in at night.  Unfortunately the Bunny missed me but never mind.  Here they don't have chocolate as the theme for Easter, but just lollies in general along with the whole egg, chicken, feather thing.  You can buy a plastic egg that comes apart and is filled with lollies, or you can buy your own cardboard egg and fill it with your own lollies.  Pete's Easter Bunny chose the latter and he got spoiled with lovely sweets from the little shop here where they filmed Pippy Longstockings!  Lucky boy.

On Monday we went for a driving tour around the island with Daniel.  We had bought a book of sites and stuff the day before and spent the evening planning our trip.  Then Daniel showed up with a bit of a surprise; we thought we would be going in the trusty old Renault but Daniel had managed to borrow someone's Porsche 911 so we could take the trip in style!  Pete was pretty excited about it but since I don't know much about cars I was more interested in the comfort and leg/head room (or lack there of).  The back seat was pretty much non-existent and my head hit the roof, but I have to admit that the car sounded pretty sweet and it was quite comfy in the front.

Our first stop was an old Cistercian Monastery from the 12th Century which was abandoned during the reformation in the 1530's and was unoccupied for 200 years.  Then it was used for military storage and now it is an outdoor theatre in Summer.  To be honest it was a bit of a dump when we got there because it is the off season so it wasn't set up and there was rubbish and stuff around the place.  I was very careful when taking the photos to not get the stands, temporary seating, roof beams and other stuff that makes it look used and abused, so it looks like a lovely ruin for all you folk who weren't there.  I'm sure it's a great facility in the summer though. Next to the monastery were some barns and stuff so we got our first glimse of Gotlandic sheep!  There are sheep statues and souvenirs everywhere here because they're supposed to be famous for their sheep, but we hadn't actually seen any til now!

The next stop was a place called Gervide down the road which is an area showing a lot of signs of Iron Age settlement.  Because of this they have recreated a couple of buildings to show what the place may have looked like.  It was a fairly quick stop because it was rather misty and wet at this point and it was a small area.  One of the buildings was a Trading Post or something and the other was a Barn.  I particularly liked the barn because the walls were made from woven sticks and the light came through them in interesting ways.  Very pretty indeed.

The main reason we had chosen to go this way across the island (road 143 for those interested in looking it up) was to get to Torsburgen Hill Fort and Herrgårdsklint on the west side of the island.  They sounded really interesting in the book so we planned our other stops around them.  Torsburgen is supposed to be the biggest hill fort in Sweden and one of the biggest in Northern Europe so it sounded pretty exciting.  When we got there though it was a bit disappointing.  We didn't really know what a hill fort was and it turns out it's kinda just a hill with some cliffs and the gaps between the cliffs patched up with piles of rock.  For a long time we couldn't work out what we were supposed to be looking at, so we climbed a big lookout tower thing (modern) to look around, couldn't see anything so had fika up there before looking some more.  We got back in the car and drove to a different side of the hill and found some man-made walls, but after the huge wall surrounding the place we live, it was a bit unimpressive.  We looked at the book again and it said that Herrgårdsklint was similar to Torsburgen so we skipped that one and moved on o the next on the list.

Gammelgarn Parish Church was the next stop and it was quite interesting.  It was built in the 12th Century and has a defence tower and some interesting paintings inside.  Apparently the church and the original paintings were damaged by fire in the Late Medieval Period so bits have been rebuilt and the paintings are a bit faded and scratched.

After that we headed out onto a peninsula area and saw Grogarnsberget which was another hill fort and again there wasn't much to see fort-wise but this one was on the coast so had a nice view up and down.  I would have liked to do some more exploring if the weather was nicer, but it was fairly bleak so we might have to go back again some time and have a better look around.  That stretch of coast looks like it would be very pretty and interesting and definitely worth some more of our time.

After some honey sandwiches for lunch we headed back to the west coast where Daniel showed us some really high cliffs with amazing views up and down the coast.  We could just see Domkyrka in Visby poking through the mist in the distance.  Another place worth another visit.  It was beautiful in the mist and cloud, and I imagine it would be something totally different in the sunlight.  When we got back to the car the battery had run down unaccountably so we had to wait for someone to give us a jump.  It was kinda funny to watch a trusty old Renault lending the Porshe some of its power!

So that was the end of the tour.  Pete and I have been eyeing off a barbeque spot on the coast near the wall for some time now, waiting for the weather to be warm enough to give it a go.  We got sick of waiting so did it anyway even though it's still rather chilly.  We took down some bags of marshmallows and Daniel brought some wood and we had a really good time freezing ourselves while seering marshmallows.  Must do it again some time!  It was interesting to identify the things that have been drilled into us since childhood though; when the fire sputtered and sparks hit the ground we were madly stamping them out while the Swedes couldn't care less.  The ground was way too moist for anything to catch but it just seemed wrong to leave them.  Same when the Swedes started playing with fire and throwing bits into the ocean; nothing bad could have happened really but it was just impossible for us to play with fire because it's just not what you do!!!

Last but not least, we have had half days this week (we were supposed to have the full week off but they had some interesting things to cover so asked if we wouldn't mind having 3 half days), so we have been out walking and bike riding to enjoy the sunshine and flowers.  Pete and I borrowed some bikes from people for the arvo and rode around the wall and a bit through the town and then Pete went off to play soccer with Owen.  Emelie and I rode to and along the Lover's Path which goes through a forest and looked at pretty wildflowers and ivy and chatted and had a very nice afternoon. 

So that's the week in review, hope all's well with all you guys, we're still having a great time.  Thanks for all your comments on the last blog, keep them coming!


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Jan Lyall on

Wow - what a fantastic experience you are both having! I have just finished reading all 17 of your postings. I am really envious of all of that fun you had in the snow. It really is a magical experience the first time but after a while we Australians hanker for the beach in sunshine. Keep up your excellent baking Myf. I love your great photos.

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