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From stressful morning to evening walk in Visby


View Gotland 2021 on bejjan's travel map.

The alarm was set EARLY this morning. Packed up the car entirely and left just after 7.30 am. A little nervous though, my first vacation with my guinea pig girls. I arrived in Nynäshamn around 9.30 am, just as the gates opened up. Because I had my piggies with me, I got a note to put visibly in the front windshield that indicated that there were animals in the car. That is because all cars with animals are parked within a certain area on the upper car deck (deck 5). If you leave the animal in the car during the boat trip, permission is given to check on the animal once during the journey. You can also book a seat in the animal lounge if you wish to bring the animal on the passenger deck. If you want the luxury, you can book an entire animal cabin, but these aren’t available on all ferries operating Nynäshamn – Visby. Of Course, I had made sure to tickets on m/s Visborg, the largest ferry that Destination Gotland is operating Gotland with and there are animal cabins are available. And now during the pandemic you book an entire cabin for yourself – totally fine!

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m/s Visborg

m/s Visborg docked at the port at 10.10 am. Out at sea, the ferry does not look big to the world, but now when it sailed into the harbor and turned 180°, it looked gigantic. The caravan of vehicles driving off the ferry never wanted to end. Cars, campers, trailers, motorbikes and every now and then a bus. Finally, waiting cars were allowed to drive on board. We, with animals in the cars, had our own queue and had to wait quite late to board the ferry. But when it was time, I ended up at the front of all cars on car deck 5, which would mean I would drive off the ferry among the first in Visby – nice!

Once on board, it was a matter of finding the cabin. But for those who want to plan in advance, there are maps available at Destination Gotland’s website, for each ferry, so you don’t have to wander around. All cars with animals are parked closest to the stairway leading straight up to the animal lounges/cabins, so it was easy to find. The key card for the cabin was already in the lock. That was yet another arrangement in place by Destination Gotland, to avoid crowds and queues at the cabin key machine. So, it was just to go inside. So heavenly nice with my own cabin. Not a lot of people around you, especially now in pandemic times. But above all, no running loud kids. My piggies would have been so terrified.

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Slowly, the ferry started to move out of the harbor on time at 11.15 am and the captain announced a welcome speech in the speaker. Thus, some people just can’t talk into a microphone. It was noisy and slurring, so it was difficult to hear what was being said. But I could tell that there were 1299 passengers on board. I don’t know what Destination Gotland has for a limited maximum number on board the ferries now during the pandemic, but I can imagine that it was basically the maximum number. m/s Visborg is also called SF1650, where the figures indicate the maximum number of passengers allowed, i.e. 1650 people. After a while, my stomach started to rumble. I just had to get out there to any of the restaurants and get something to eat. It was people everywhere and kids running around. I grabbed a Chicken Wrap, paid and quickly went back to my cabin. There, it was so calm, so quiet. I even had a little nap before the ferry docked in Visby at 2.45 pm.

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My apartment for the week.

As said, I was one of the first cars to drive off the ferry. It took barely 10 minutes to drive to the apartment. I checked in, carried all the things up-stairs; bags, stuff, cage and guinea pigs. And why had I booked an apartment upstairs, you might wonder? Well, to be able to have windows and perhaps the balcony door opened at night if it was too warm (without worrying about “visitors”), but also to be able to leave the windows open during the day if it got too hot for the piggies. So, I just had to carry everything. I made the cage for the piggies ang gave them a lot of vegetables and hay. Then I rushed off to ICA Maxi to buy food etc. I took about 3 minutes to drive. Close and comfy. Unfortunately, there were no walkways so you just had to take the car.

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The Easter Gate

Once back in the apartment, I ate the chicken salad I just bought and made myself ready for an evening walk in Visby. The sun was shining, it was +27 °C outside. I walked towards Easter Gate, which took about 12 minutes in a leisurely pace. I felt very calm, almost no people out on the streets. Nice!

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Walk along the ring wall in Easter Trench

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Walk along the ring wall in Easter Trench

I turned right (north) and walked along the outside of the ring wall. The dry grass rustled. The sun was shining. I wouldn’t have made it without my sunhat. I should come to the Well Gate that is north of Easter Gate. It cannot be that difficult.

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North Gate

But obviously I missed it, because suddenly I had come to North Gate. Not to be underrated, a beautiful gate. It is also the best-preserved gate in the ring wall and was built in 1280. Then, as now, North Gate serves as a main route into Visby for travelers from the north. Just inside the gate is Rackarbacken (“the Hangman’s Hill”). It is a pretty steep slope and along the slope, in the ring wall, is the so-called Mint House. It was built even before the ring wall was built and functioned as a warehouse. There may have been a mint house here during the Middle Ages that gave this house its name, but there is no evidence of this story.

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The Hangman's Hill

The Hangman’s Hill was at one time almost a slum area, and in the beginning of 19th Century the hangman lived closest to North Gate. But it was the hangman’s neighbor and helper, that lived up in the Hangman’s Hill, who generated the expression the Nightman’s yard. The neighbor, “Rackaren”, or the Nightman, was named Jacob Tingstedt and worked during the day with for instance whipping convicted criminals bloody, taking care of corpses from the Gallows Hill and slaughtering dogs ang horses. When darkness fell, Jacob took care of chores that could not be seen in daylight as emptying the latrine barrels among the upper-class houses in Visby. Despite his chores, Jacob got married to Kajsa Maja and the couple had children. Jacob managed to change career and eventually became a police officer. But in the summer of 1850, Jacob suffered a stroke during a swimming class and passed away.

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Via Hangman’s Hill you then come to Norra Murgatan. The already beautiful stone and wooden houses were adorned with even more beautiful roses.

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The warm colors of the evening sun and the color cascades of flowers never ended.

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The Well Gate

After about 100 meters I found it – the Well Gate. The gate was erected as alate as the end of 1860s, in the shape of an arcade arch. The reason was that the residents of Klinten were short of water and needed access to the water well that was on the other side of the wall. The houses directly adjacent to the gate were demolished during the construction. The tower resting above the Well Gate is one of the most preserved saddle towers. One hundred years later, in 1968 – 1969), the gate had its moment of fame through the TV series Pippi Longstocking, with Inger Nilsson in the lead role, which was filmed in Visby. Pippi rides along the wall and in through the Well Gate several times during the series. For those who are a real avid fan of Pippi or interested in visiting several filming locations, Gotland Tourist Office has made a Pippi map with most filming location marked.

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The Well Gate and Norra Murgatan

But something felt off as I stood there and tried to compare the surrounding with the scenes in Pippi. Maybe it was because the fence was repainted in a different color? Maybe it was because the trees and bushes grew up and the gate felt very small?

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Klinttorget

I walked further south along Norra Murgatan and arrived at Klinttorget. The square is located on Visby’s highest plateau, called Klinten (Eng. The Cliff). It used to be an old marketplace for selling firewood, straw and hay. Nowadays, it’s considered classy to own a home in Klinten area in Visby. Despite the tiny homes, the housing prices are sky high and perhaps the view of Visby and the sea can justify the price war? But it hasn’t always been that way.

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Skampålen (Pole of Shame)

During 18th Century, the cruel torture was moved from the Main Square to Klinttorget and one day a week it wasn’t the market that was in focus. At Wednesdays, the sentences were executed in public by the scaffolding and pole of shame, in the square that came to be called Spötorget (Eng. Flogging Square). The sentences were done by the executioner and his cliff thug. In memory of this horrifying time, a replica of the 1790’s pole of shame has been erected on Klinttorget. Only one hundred years ago, it was the poor’s neighborhood with outhouses, water collection and the lice ravaged here. To be called “Klintunge” (Eng. Cliff Kid) was derogatory and the closer to the North Gate you lived, the worse the reputation.

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Old beautiful fire station

Here, I also found the old beautifully preserved fire station.

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Then I walked towards the Cathedral and passed both Övre Finngränd and Kyrktrappan (Eng. Church Stairs) with magnificent views over the ruins of Visby and the sea.

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The Painter's House

Looking out over Visby from the Church Stairs, gives a fantastic view. Closest in view is the Painter’s House from 13th Century. The house consists of two adjoining houses; a tower house with barrel vaults above the ground floor and two upper floors as well as a lower building consisting of two rooms and cross-vaults on the ground floor and an attic. Its name, Painter’s House, originated in the 17th Century as the owner’s name was Johan Bartsch, called Johan Painter. Johan was a skilled and experienced décor painter who, among other things, painted in the medieval churches, but also in the Burmeister House and the Old Residence. Although the whole house is called the Painter’s House, Johan lived only in the higher tower part of the house. The lower part was owned and inhabited by someone else. During 19th Century, the Painter’s House belonged to Cedergren’s Tile Stove Factory. Recently, it has also functioned as an inn with accommodations.

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Saint Mary's Cathedral

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Saint Mary's Cathedral

As mentioned, next to the lookout point is Saint Mary’s Cathedral which proudly displays its church towers and looks out over both the sea and the city of Visby. The church, that during Middle Age was called “Our Dear Lady’s Church - “Our Lady’s Church”, we nowadays know as Visby Saint Mary’s Cathedral. The Church was built in its entirety during Middle Age as a guest church to German traders who were excluded by the resident Germans from S:t Peters Church (German parish church at the time). During winters, the German trading business Peterhof’s cashbox was kept in Our Lady’s Church. Four different keys were required to unlock the box and these keys were available from representatives in the cities; Dortmund, Lübeck, Soest and Visby. At the opening of the box, all four representatives were required to be present, with their respective key.

Saint Mary’s Church was expanded in stages and was consecrated July 27, 1225, as a parish church with two pastors. One pastor for the German congregation and the other pastor for the Gotlandic congregation. The church ought to be seen as German-Gotlandic with two separate congregations. But during 1429, decision was made to have only one pastor. By the late Middle Ages, the church was one of the most important ones and the second largest church of Visby. In year 1572, the church was designated as Visby Saint Mary’s Cathedral. Today, Visby Saint Mary’s Cathedral is the only medieval church Visby still in use. The twelve other churches in town are only preserved as ruins.

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Fiskargränd

From the Cathedral it was not far to Fiskargränd. One of the most famous and most photographed alleys in Visby, no doubt. The narrow alley was full of roses in bright colors. Here, too, it was empty of people. I could take pictures in peace and quiet, without other people coming in the pictures.

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Sunset in Visby

The sun begun to set at sea. It was almost cloud free, so the sunset was going to be amazing tonight. I slowly made my way back to the Cathedral and the famous lookout point. The view was amazing. The warm play of colors over the horizon was eventually replaced by colder colors, after the sunset. The time was after 10 pm when I got back to the apartment again.

Posted by bejjan 11:26 Archived in Sweden Tagged ferry visby gotland Comments (0)

Fårö in six hours? - Sure!


View Gotland 2021 on bejjan's travel map.

Once at Gotland – Fårö is a must!

It is Sweden’s eighth largest island with its 114 square kilometers. Only about 500 people live permanently on Fårö, but during the summer months the number of visitors can reach about 10,000. Today, tourism together with agriculture is the most important industry on the island. There is no bridge, so to visit Fårö you have to take one of the road ferries over the Fårösund Strait, which is free of charge. During high season, several ferries operate Fårösund – Fårö, round-trip, with a capacity of about 50 cars per ferry and departures up to every 10 minutes (only during high season). There are only villages on Fårö, i.e. no cities.

For an optimal experience, you should plan your trip to Fårö, at least during high season (July and August) if you want to avoid queues to the ferry or crowds of people at the rauks or the other tourist attractions. If there are long queues, you could be force to wait up to 90 minutes just to drive on board the road ferry. Because I hate queues, I planned to catch an early ferry and left Visby just a few minutes after 7 am. It took about 45 minutes to drive to Fårösund, which meant I made the 8 am ferry and did not have to wait in any queue – what so ever.

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The boat ride didn’t even take 10 minutes. A tip for those who want to visit Ryssnäs Nature Reserve is to do so first thing after you drive off the ferry. The reason is, the exit to the reserve is very close to the ferry and if you would like to visit the reserve later during the day, there is a chance that the car queue for the road ferry will impede access to the exit. So Ryssnäs Nature Reserve – right after the ferry! I exited the road onto a narrow, paved road.

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After about one kilometer, the road turned into a grey gravel road- classic view on Fårö. With the help of small road signs, I managed to meander along the gravel roads to the parking space at Ryssnäs Nature Reserve.

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The first thing that catches your eye is one of all the small cozy Gutnish Sheep Houses, that stores feed in the attic. The Sheep House also function as protection from rain, snow and wind for the lambs that go out all year round. If you walk past the Sheep House, you will soon arrive at the English Cemetery is surrounded by granite blocks linked by chains.

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English Cemetary

About twenty people are buried here, including lieutenant Hannant from the English Marine Corps. Everyone who is buried here died from cholera in 1854 during Crimean War (1853-1856). On the tombstones (memorial stones?) the text begins to disappear, but the word cholera is still legible. Despite this, Ryssnäs is a beautiful area with unique nature, pebble beaches and alvar land. If one is interested in birds, this is the place to visit.

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I walked along the pebble beach and saw three sheep that managed to find something to graze on, among the rocks.

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A little further away was a small area with rauks that made the perfect opportunity for photos and reflection.
One can easily believe that Fårö got its name from the sheep graze here (Swedish word “får” means Sheep and the Swedish word “ö” means island), but not. Sheep is actually called “Lamb” in Gutnish. As early as the 14th Century, the island was referred to as Farøø, and a century later the island is mentioned as Faroyna. So, the name Fårö originates from the Gutnish word “fara” (Eng. “go to”), and the word “ö” (Eng. Island). Fårö means roughly “go-to island” in English.

Fårö differs from the fertile Gotland with its flat barren nature, consisting mostly of moraine. Fårö is basically one single limestone cliff and the island’s characteristic landscape consists of low windswept pine forests, lakes, boglands and karstic rock formations known as “rauks” or sea stacks, shaped by the forces of nature. Eastern Fårö consists of powdery sand while western Fårö has barren rocky terrain, cultivated land and shallow lakes. For the bath-loving is Sudersand, a vacation paradise with a shallow water.

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Fårö Church

I went back to my car and drove the same way back to Broa, and set my heading towards Fårö Church.
Fårö Church is geographically located almost in the middle of Fårö, next to the main road that runs between Broa and Fårö Lighthouse. While Gotland is known for its well-preserved medieval churches, Fårö Church is a church that has changed since its construction in the early 14th Century. By the middle of 18th Century, lightning struck and damaged the church tower so bad it had to be re-built. When the population of Fårö increased in the middle of the 19th Century, the church was expanded with transept to both north and south. One of the perhaps most visited graves at Fårö Church’s Cemetery ought to be Ingemar Bergman’s resting place since his passing in 2007.
After a photo of the Church and studying the map one more time, I drove towards Gamla Hamn.

Gamla Hamn (Eng. Old Harbor) is a well-visited nature reserve in northwestern Fårö which was established in 1930. There are not only ancient monuments, there are also plenty of rauks, sea stacks, especially at the rocky cape at the southern end of Lautervik. To get to the parking space next to Gamla Hamn, you must drive along a very narrow dirt road. It felt narrow even though I was driving alone along the road. Because Gamla Hamn is such a popular tourist attraction, maybe you could wish for some better road conditions? It was bumpy and winding and there were few places available to meet another car. It was just luck that I did not meet a wide camper or so. Once you are parked in the parking space, you must walk for about 500 meters to reach the actual rauk area.

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The trail started in a shady forest and passed a pebble stone area with grave fields that was probably erected during the Viking Age. During this time there was a harbor here, hence the name Gamla Hamn. To the east of the grave field one can see a small water collection just inside the forest edge, where the harbor once was. Over the Centuries, the land uplift has raised the inlet to the harbor above the waterline and it is estimated that this occurred as early as the 14th Century.

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Remains of Saint Olav's Church

South of the old harbor, one can see old ruins of a chapel and its cemetery with superficial stone coffins. The chapel is believed to have originated from the 1000s during that time when Saint Olav visited Gotland, which is why the chapel is called Saint Olav’s Church.

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Once I reached the pebble beach, the rauks were in sight. The sun was merciless high up in the clear blue sky. So hot. So bright. Even though it was a bit windy out at sea, it was calm and windless here.

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The rauk Coffe Pot, also known as the Dog

There were a lot of rauks, but the one that stood out was of course Fårö’s most famous rauk stands proud; Kaffepannan (Eng. Coffee Pot). Or Hunden (Eng. The Dog), or Saint Ole’s Door. A beloved child has many names. They are all names of one and the same rauk. A tip to avoid the hustle and bustle of the worst horde of visitors, you can visit the rauks, sea stacks, on two occasions; early in the morning and a while before sunset. Seeing the sun set behind the rauks standing out in the sea, is supposed to be magical.

After some pictures, I went back to the car. I drove back the same lonely and rugged road I once arrived on. Then I continued, on comfortable paved road, north towards the next nature reserve – Digerhuvud. Digerhuvud’s Nature Reserve is located along Fårö’s northwest coast. The reserve stretches 3.5 km from Lauterhorn in the southwest to Helgumannen’s Fishing Station in the northeast. Digerhuvud’s various areas are easily reached thanks to the road through the reserve. As Sweden’s largest rauk area, or sea stack field, there are often a lot of visitors right here. There are several designated parking spaces that you can stop at. But I was looking for the most famous rauks and places, so I continued to drive for a while into the reserve. There are hundreds of sea stacks, ranging from one- to eight-meter high rauks can be viewed, climbed or just enjoyed. Out at sea, are the outermost rauks, which are still shaped by the waves of the sea, although slowly. Because I could not see any rauk that changed shape the moment I saw them. Along the way, there were more and more cars and people. But luckily, there were not as much people at my first stop – Helgumannen’s Fishing Station.

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Helgumannen's Fishing Station

On Fårö, as the rest of Gotland, there are plenty of fishing stations. Perhaps Helgumannen is the most famous fishing station? In any case, it was Fårö’s most significant fishing station during 18th Century and up to the 20th Century and is the best preserved. If you are lucky, as I was, to experience these old fishing huts with no people around, is almost magical itself. Calm. Quiet. Only the waves roll in towards the pebble beach. I took a walk down to the fishing station.

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Helgumannen's Fishing Station

The huts are dense and are built of wood and wooden roofs of wood or chipboard, or stacked stone. Even today, the clapboard fishing hut village’s own well remain with spring water from the mountain, and there is plenty of water, it is said. There have been many stories of people fishing here, unfortunately many have been forgotten or simply not written down. If the person was born from a simpler family, the story has simply not been documented. But there are exceptions such as Båta-Bol, or Bodilla Jacobsdotter as her real name was. Bodilla was born in 1765 at the farm Båta. Eric Fröberg has in the book “Saga and legends from Fårö” described Båta-Bol as follows: “She was a real Viking daughter, a real fighting figure, big and strong as a man, golden-haired and red-cheeked with a strong beak nose between a pair of blue eyes.”

The story goes that she was unmarried with no children, which is not true. In 1789, she gave birth to a son outside marriage. The father was unknown, which was catastrophic for a farmer’s daughter at the time. But she married a widower named Hans Mulen in 1791.He was 66 years old at the time of the wedding, a former boatman, survived two wives and already had two children who were older than Bodilla herself. Bodilla was 26 years old when the marriage took place and should have been a way for her to survive rather than true love. The husband died of a stroke the following year and Bodilla was alone again. She moved back to her parents’ house, but had a house built out in the yard to live with her son. One can only speculate, but Bodilla was probably a bit of a burden for the family with her bastard son. Over the years, she became more independent, fearless and went her own way. She did not give in and did not behave as a woman in her situation should do, but showed people around her that she could support herself.

Bodilla got a boat and walked the 7 kilometers to Helgumannen’s Fishing Station to fish and as the only woman in the fishing station, she often got on edge with the men. But as a tough and independent woman as she was, they had to regret their actions. She carried the fish back home and sailed to Visby to sell her fish. Bodilla’s son, Lars Boberg, eventually got married and had two children, a son and a daughter. Bodilla lived a hard life but became 79 years old.

Back in the car, I continued on towards the next nature reserve – Langhammars. A narrower paved road meandered through the barren landscape with windswept trees and bushes. I parked the car at the designated parking lot and walked towards the pebble beach. The rauks caught your eyes immediately. Majestic, some up to 8 meters high, boasting along the beach and some out at sea.

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Rauk looking like a grumpy old man?

One of the perhaps most photographed rauks of them all, is the one which could be compared to a grumpy old man. Or what do you think?
Time had struck lunchtime, and I needed to find a restaurant to eat. Even though I had munched on packed sandwiches and cookies during the morning, I was really hungry now. You should remember that there are no cities on Fårö – only villages. There is a grocery store in Eke and right next door is the holiday resort Sudersand with several restaurants. With the help of road signs, I got to Ebbas Mat & Kaffe, where they served lunch. A well-needed Pasta and Bolognese had to do. After a mini break, it was off to the northeast and Fårö Lighthouse.

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Fårö Lighthouse

Fårö Lighthouse stand proud on Fårö’s northeastern cape, Holmudden, and warns of the treacherous sandbanks in the North, between Fårö and Gotska Sandön. The lighthouse was inaugurated in October 21st, 1847 and almost 100 years later electricity was drawn into Fårö Lighthouse, at the same time as the tower was painted white. Today, the lighthouse is owned and maintained by the Swedish Maritime Administration and is still in operation. Fårö Lighthouse was previously a closed area, but is today open to public and nice place for excursions. What few people think of is that at Fårö Lighthouse it is actually closer to the Baltic than the Swedish mainland. Think about that!

Once in the parking lot, it turned out to cost 30 SEK to park the car. It may seem expensive, I just wanted to look at the lighthouse. But I can imagine they earn some money every day, as there are two popular beaches nearby; Norsta Auren and Skalasand. A trail led to the lighthouse and the rocky beach below. The sea winds cooled well in the otherwise warm air. After a couple of pictures, I went back to the car. Oh well, a little feeling of -been there, done that! Now I had only two stops left on my carefully planned Fårö trip. Ava the Oak and last but not least Ulla Hau.
Grandpa, mom, me and my sister went to Gotland in 1996. That’s a long time ago and I don’t remember much from that trip. I have somewhat blurry photos in an album and, even though I don’t remember, I was on Fårö then. A photo of Ava the Oak proves this.
So, then. A few kilometers east of Sudersand, stands a very old oak.

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Ava the Oak

Visitors are welcome by foot to look at the oak, even though it stands on private property. No one really knows how old it is, it could be 1000 years old. Carl Linnaeus writes about Ava the Oak in his Gotland Journey in 1741, as he cooled off in the shade from the scorching heat. It is a huge oak and the actual trunk measures around 6.4 meters in circumference. It is said that the inside of Ava the Oak was carved out during 1960s and then filled with concrete. The tree branches are supported by metal constructions and draining pipes preventing rot. But to find a reliable source of this information is difficult which is why it must be taken with a pinch of salt. Even though it was “just” a tree, it was still important for me to visit, given the photo evidence. Fun to have and compare with. From Ava the Oak, it was not far to Ulla Hau – the last stop.

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Ulla Hau

Ulla Hau is a large wooded sand area. It is a large migrating sand field consisting of feldspar and quartz spar. Ulla Hau, Gotland’s mini-Sahara, is an approximately 300-meter-wide sand dune which since 1966 is a nature reserve and is located on Avanäset in northeastern Fårö. The sand dune encloses a wide sandy plain which, with the help of the wind, built up the surrounding horseshoe-shaped dune that we today call Ulla Hau. Ulla Hau began to form as late as the 18th Century and is therefore seen as a young migrating sand field. The dune then migrated at about 3 meters per year, so during 19th Century trees and marram grass were planted to slow down the migration. The plantings gave a good effect and in the beginning of the 20th Century the dune had stopped migrating. Today, Ulla Hau is for the most part overgrown with windswept pine. Unlike the rest of Fårö, there is no lime here.

It was a very beautiful area, with white sand dunes surrounded by pines. But the temperature was unbearable to say at least, i.e. very scorching hot and windless, and the sand really didn’t make it any cooler. If you didn’t stand directly in the shade of a tree, you completely sweated. But what wouldn’t you do just to get an extra pic or two, for the blog?
When I got back to the car, I was extremely happy about firing up the air-conditioning. It cooled nicely after that Savannah-like tour I just made. I felt finished with Fårö for this time. Sudersand may be another time. I’m not a bathing or beach person and felt that the crowd, that probably was there today in this nice warm weather, I could manage without now especially in these crazy pandemic times. Now I headed for Broa and the road ferry again, to get back to Gotland. When I reached the ferry terminal, I just missed the ferry, but the next ferry would depart in about 10 minutes, so it did nothing.

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Once back in Fårösund, I started my journey back towards Visby along road 148. Along this road, the historic churches line up like a string of pearls, so I had to stop at some of them. Of the around 100 churches that were built in Gotland during the Late Viking Age/Early Medieval Ages, there are 92 left today still active, one in each parish. Gotland is thus Sweden’s most church dense municipally and it’s less than a 10-minute-drive between two churches. Why so many churches were built on the island, no one knows.
The reason should, according to Gutasaga, be: “þy et menn gierþu sir kirchiur at mairu maki”. The word “maki” translate to convenience. If there were several farms that considered it too far to the church, they went together and built their own. It is estimated that 10-15 farms were needed to build a church, provide the priest with house and land and pay tithes to church. Tithing was the tax of the time to the church, which corresponded to 1/10 of the farm’s production and was often paid in the form of products from the farm.

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Bunge Church

The first church turning up in Fårösund is Bunge Church. Bunge Church is one of few war churches on the island. The tower of the medieval church is crenellated, i.e. it has loopholes at the top, as well as its surrounding stone wall.

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Rute Church

After a short car ride, you arrive at Rute Church. The church was erected by Lafrans Botvidarson during 13th Century.

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Lärbro Church
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Lärbro Church

The third church in order is Lärbro Church. The church is from the 14th Century and has a unique octagonal tower. Though, the tower has been higher than it is today. Due to a severe storm in 1522, the highest part of the tower was destroyed and they had to take the top floor down. The defense tower west of the church, is from the 12th Century and function as a clock tower today.

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Tingstäde Church

The fourth church along road 148 is Tingstäde Church. It was erected between the mid-13th Century and the 14th Century with clear Romanic influences and is one of the largest churches on Gotland’s countryside. Thanks to its 55-meter-high tower, the tower is seen from far away and once served as a navigation mark at sea. This, despite the fact the church is located 10 kilometers from the nearest coast. Tingstäde Church once functioned as one out of three asylum churches. A killer could receive protection for 40 days while the victim’s and perpetrator’s families agreed on a settlement and the amount of fine. The asylum churches are believed to have sprung up to avoid retaliation on the island.

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Bro Church

The last stop had to be the medieval Bro Church and perhaps the most interesting. The church was erected in the 12th Century in Romanic style. In addition, both choir and longhouse were built in Gothic style. During the Middle Ages, Bro Church was a pilgrim church, when it held a chip of Christ’s Cross.

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Picture stone in Bro Church's wall

Walled in the south wall of the church is a picture stone that is dated to around 500 AD. However, the stone has been laid on the side, to fit more easily into the church wall. Its motifs have generated countless of theories as to what its symbols mean. The vortex could stand for sun, moon, life or maybe death? During the Middle Age, Bro Church was a famous sacrificial church and is said to have been built on top of an old place of worship. Considering the role of a sacrificial church, could the picture stone’s vortexes be shields to protect from the evil?

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Stones in Bro Church

But most impressive are probably the picture stones from the 400s that are in the church’s two chambers.

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Inside Bro Church

Inside the church there are magnificent paintings on walls and ceilings.

After a busy day on Fårö, it was nice to come back to the apartment and take care of my piggies and eat something. Time was after all not that much after I finished my chores, so it had to be yet another evening walk in Visby. Put on my shoes and sunhat and walked down to Easter Port.

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School Gate

But instead of going right, like yesterday, I took left and came after a while to the School Gate. The gate wasn’t bored into the wall until 1891, as a new school was built outside the wall and the gate got its suitable name School Gate. The name still holds true today as the gate is passed daily by the inner-city school children. I continued a bit further along the wall and arrived at Kajsar Tower and the Kajsar Gate, but more about this tower later in blog. Here I passed through the gate and went west down to the harbor.

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Model of Visborg Castle

Here is a model of Visborg Castle, as it once was built. Eric of Pomerania, the Kalmar Union King, begun construction in the early of 15th Century. After being deposed as king, Eric settled at Visborg and engaged in piracy for 12 years. After that, Visborg was one of the strongest strongholds of the Baltic Sea. The Danish occupied Visborg in the end of 1670s, but chose to demolish the castle when they realized that the battle was lost – all so as not to give the enemy Sweden a fully war-equipped castle. The remaining ruin was used during the next three decades for as lime kiln in the process of calcination of limestone and the reconstruction of Stockholm Palace.

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Today, only a small part of Visborg Castle remains. It’s just not something you just happen to stumble upon, but I really had to look to find it. It is hidden away under large trees, lush bushes and tall grass. But it’s there for those who want to find it.

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The old Visby Prison, today a hostel

Right next to the remaining ruin of Visborg Castle, is Visby Prison. The prison was built in 1857 and opened in 1859.
With the seven chimneys, well visible to incoming ships, the prison quickly got the name “the Seven Masts”. The stay in prison was often just a waiting time for the real punishment. Public humiliation, getting body parts cut off or whipped in public must be seen as the “better” punishments compared to the more horrifying punishments like beheading, hanging, burned or buried alive. The notorious convict Konrad Tektor Lundqvist spent his last days in Visby Prison and was sentenced to death for robbery-murder and theft. By the last public execution in Sweden, Tektor was beheaded on May 18th, 1876. Until the mid-1990s, the prison was a penitentiary, but is a hostel today.

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Still looking like a prison

Given its history, I probably wouldn’t want to spend a single night at this hostel. Just look at the latticed windows and barbed wire on the fence/wall. My journey continued north through Visby’s narrow alleys and passed old beautiful houses like...

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...Burmeister House...

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... and the Old Pharmacy.

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I sat down on a bench by the quay for a while and gathered myself before continuing along the wall towards the church ruins of Saint George.

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Saint George church ruin

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Saint George church ruin

This church was built next to a hospital for Leprosy during the 13th Century, outside the ring wall. S:t George was a patron saint and was considered to help in case of illness and accidents. Today, only the ruin of S:t George Church can be seen, nothing from the hospital remains – thank goodness!

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The three stone pillars on Gallow Hill

The goal was now set on the Gallow Hill, not far from S:t George ruin. It went a little uphill and at the top of a plateau I found the three stone pillars. The area is still called the Gallow and was one of all execution sites where the convicts were allowed to hang until the birds took their bodies.

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Illustration of how it could have looked like

The purpose was to scare and because the Gallow Hill was so high, the bodies were visible from both the sea and Visby. It was kind of eerie to stand there, aware of what had happened in this particular place, although hundreds of years ago.

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Gallow Hill today

Suffering. Death. Just the smell of rotten bodies should have deterred anyone.

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The sun had started to set a while ago, so it was a brisk walk back to Visby town. I just made it to the lookout point next to the Cathedral Saint Mary to view yet another amazing sunset over the sea

Posted by bejjan 12:47 Archived in Sweden Tagged churches faro gotland rauks Comments (0)

Stora Karlsö – a paradise in the middle of Baltic Sea?


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If you are looking for a different experience, you should visit Stora Karlsö, with a memorable nature, rich bird life, flowering alvar meadows along with a rich history. The island lies about 6 km southeast of Gotland and is reached by ferry from Klintehamn. The ferry m/s Stora Karlsö started operating the route in 1999 and a one-way trip takes about 30 minutes. The total number of passengers is 120. And the car? Well, one has to leave it behind in Klintehamn. It took about 40 minutes to drive from Visby to Klintehamn. When I arrived at the quay, the check-in was already open and I got my ticket with a specific seat number. This is of course due to Covid-19. The closer to departure, the more people showed up.

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m/s Stora Karlsö

The boat was already in the harbor and the staff were preparing for the first trip of the day. 10 minutes before departure we were allowed to board. Thank goodness I had a seat in the boat’s direction of travel. But I had prepared myself with a motion sickness pill, just in case. Seasickness will not ruin my day on Stora Karlsö. We left Klintehamn at 9.30 am. It was a calm sea and the boat ride was comfy. We passed by Lilla Karlsö on our way. It is possible to visit Lilla Karlsö, with guiding. Booking is made separately, as well as the boat trip out there. There are no food services, so packed food is a must. It is possible to stay the night in a smaller house if you want.

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As we went ashore on Stora Karlsö, there was a gathering directly at the flagpole in Norderhamn. Torbjörn, the island supervisor, welcomed us and briefly walked us through the day. If you wanted to order food in the only restaurant on the island, you had to do it before the guided tour began. I ordered KIDDO menu – Pancakes (of course).

The guided tour begun at 10.45 am. We had to divide into two groups, each with a guide. I ended up in Frida’s group. A really nice girl who spoke real Gotlandic. It was a joy to listen to her. She started by telling us the history of the island. Stora Karlsö has a unique history and remnants from the early Stone Age to present. 9000 years ago, seal hunters used the island for hunting and many remains (about 7000!) from Stone Age have been found in the large cave Stora Förvar. Early remains of Gotlandsruss (a Gotlandic pony) have also been found. Frida said that they are the oldest findings of the pony and it should perhaps be called Stora Karlsö-russet instead. But the question is, wasn’t the Gotlandsrusset brought to the island by boat? I Don’t think the pony just originated on the island by itself. During the Middle Ages, quarrying took place on the southern part of the island of the so called “Karlsö Marble”, which was pink and wanted for the Gotland church buildings. Even though it was around 800 years since the quarry ceased, the quarries remain – untouched – just like when the last worker left.

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The rauk gate "Hesselby läde"

We continued the tour a bit uphill and came to a large rauk gate. It’s called Hesselby läde. It is said that if you walk through this gate – in the right direction, at a certain time of day – you will be 10 years younger. If you walk the “wrong” way, you age 10 years. Well, I didn’t feel younger or older just by walking through that gate. No one else in the group either ;)

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The group walked on and came up to the flat height that Stora Karlsö mainly consists of. The island is simply a flat rock. From here you could basically see the entire island in a 360° panoramic view. Frida pointed away and wondered if we could see the slightly higher tree far, far away? Yeah, kind of… ish. I thought. There were some trees to choose from, but one seemed a little higher than the others. The tree stands on top of a cairn and was mentioned already by Carl von Linné in 1741, during his Öland and Gotland journey. In his book, Linné describes a Bronze Age cairn with a solitary tree located at top of Röisu haid (also Stora Karlsö’s highest point of 51,6 meters above sea level). The tree, which is a common ash, was later named Linneaus' Ash). The ash is probably very old as it has not grown bigger since then. The ash is believed to have taken root in the mound of stones during the late 16th Century. Frida told us that the tree, due to rot, had been cut out and filled with cement. Despite this, it seems to thrive on its stone cairn, even if the tree doesn’t grow bigger. Hmm, well. If time is left after lunch, I might have some time to go up there and look closer at that tree. We followed Frida a bit more who told us about the importance of sheep for Stora Karlsö.

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The sheep have been of importance to the landscape on Stora Karlsö and already 6000 years ago (the Neolithic) the sheep grazed on the island’s heathlands. But in 1887, the Hunting and Animal Protection Association introduced rabbit hunting and the competition for the grass caused the sheep to be moved from the island. They planted trees and bushes in the island which grew stronger at the same time as the auks recovered more and more. During a hundred years, the island had overgrown and the opened heathlands with orchids were overgrown by bushes and shrubs. So, in 1995 after 108 years, clearing of Stora Karlsö began and parts of the island introduced sheep grazing again. The grazing beneficial flowers and orchids grow again on most of the island in the open heathlands.

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Common Murres on the cliffs

We walked on to the cliffs where the Common Murre live. There is a fenced viewing point from which we were allowed to observe them. Frida told enthusiastically about the Common Murre’s life here on the island. The Common Murre live with the same partner in large colonies. The arrive at Stora Karlsö to breed in May. Both the female and male take turn on incubating the egg and “talk” to their baby. The egg is shaped like a pear so it doesn’t fall off the cliff. After 4 weeks, the egg hatches. The chick stays for another 4 weeks on the cliff and is fed with fish by its parents. Then it is time for the chick to “leave” the nest. The male flies down into the sea and lies in the waves and calling for his chick. The chick recognizes his dads “voice” since being in the egg. The female flies back and forward between the nest and the water to show the chick how it’s done. When the chick has gotten enough courage, he throws himself off the cliff and falls helpless 30-40 meters straight down to the ground. All fat fish the parents have been feeding the chick with during the 4-week-period of time have been stored as a fatty pillow in front of the chest and under the belly. This “air-bag” now protects the chick from an otherwise certain death. Thanks to the fatty depot, only 1% of the chicks actually die after throwing themselves off the cliffs. The chick then finds his way out in the water and his dad, with the help of the father’s allure. The chick and the father then swim south to stay the winter in Poland. The mother stays at the cliff for another 4 weeks to guard the nest, before she does the same journey to Poland and finds her male again.

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During 2020, the first summer during the Corona pandemic, all tourist travelling to and from Stora Karlsö were stopped. One might think that would actually favor the Common Murre even more, not being disturbed by curios tourists. But on the contrary! The lack of people in motion around the cliffs where the Common Murre’s hatches contributed to a smaller colony during 2020 than usual, which has never been seen before. This is when the White-Tailed Eagles saw their chance and scared the Murre’s. So, when the decision was made to allow tourists again in the summer of 2021, the size of the colony has returned to normal, again. Fascinating! Normally, the Murre-jumping takes place in end of June, i.e. I should have seen it. But this year the birds came 2 weeks later due to cold weather. So unfortunately, even though I booked tickets during the optimal time for the Murre jumping, I missed it…

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Stora Karlsö Lighthouse

We walked on and came to the lighthouse. After all the sinkings throughout history, i.e. Valdemar Atterdag’s ship in 1361, a lighthouse was finally built on Stora Karlsö which was completed in 1887. The lighthouse is 18 meters high and built of limestone from the island. Stora Karlsö thus had a resident population, although only four families. As late as 1974, electricity was drawn out to the island, whereby the lighthouse could be automated. The lighthouse is owned by the Swedish Maritime Administration, but Karlsö Hunting and Animal Protection Association rents the building. More than fifty years later, a lighthouse keeper’s house was built, which today has been converted into a hostel with about 40 beds and 10 beds in the lighthouse itself. So, there is overnight accommodation options for those who wants to sleep over on the island. It can probably be an experience in itself. But I think I would feel pretty restless. Because there is not much to do on the island apart from visiting the restaurant and bath swimming in designated places. Most of the coastal area around the island is a protected bird sanctuary with no access during March to August. A day tour is enough to see the island.

Now, we walked down towards Hien and Norderhamn again. We passed by some of the remaining fishing huts. The good fishing contributed to Stora Karlsö being a well-visited island during the 19th Century and in the northern part of the island there was a large fishing station with about 80 fishing huts. Only two of them remain today. During the later 18th Century, aggressive bird hunting and grazing took place on Stora Karlsö. The hunt was conducted for fun and continued during breeding season, even their nests were plundered on eggs to eat. Thanks to Willy Wörner, the man behind Karlsö Hunting and Animal Protection Association, the Common Murres were saved from an otherwise certain extinction during the 19th Century. Willy financed this by offering affluent people to buy shares for an animal and nature conservation purpose. Eventually, Willy Wörner had managed to buy up all the land on Stora Karlsö, which thus became the second oldest nature reserve in the world (after Yellowstone National Park in the US).

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Back in Norderhamn, I went straight to the restaurant and the waiting pancake. I was so hungry! And pancake is never wrong. Yummy!

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Tha cave Stora Förvar

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Linneaus' Ash

After lunch, I went on my own to the cave Stora Förvar and Linneaus' Ash. Not many of the others did this, so I could go and take some pictures as I wanted. It was warm and sunny.

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Not many trees that can provide shade once you reach the plateau. And it was barely any wind and if there was any gust of wind, it was hot.

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View of Lilla Karlsö

Back in Norderhamn, I found a bench in the shade and rested before the boat arrived, which would take us back to Klintehamn. It was important not to miss the boat at 3 pm, because there was no more departure to choose from. Then you just had to accept the fact to stay the night in the island and take the boat the day after. The boat ride back to Klintehamn was bumpy. Tired as I was, I still managed to fall asleep every now and then. Once ashore, I went to the car. It was boiling hot when I opened the door. I opened all doors to let the terrible heat out. As I got closer to Visby, the traffic got more intense and I realized I got stuck in the rush hour. Oh well, I had nowhere to be anyway. It had to be an early evening because of the early dawn ride tomorrow morning, or rather tonight.

Posted by bejjan 13:17 Archived in Sweden Tagged gotland stora_karlsö Comments (0)

A magic daybreak ride


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I booked this activity rather late (the week before), compared to all other activities during this trip. On one hand, I was not sure I would manage but on the other hand to have an idea about the weather. It is NOT fun to ride in heavy rain or storm. And definitely not an early morning. I managed to get about 4,5 hours of sleep before I had to get up around midnight. Eat some breakfast, put on equestrian clothes, pack down the helmet, short chaps and so on. But also, to pack down regular clothing to change into after the ride and packing lunch for the rest of the day that I had plans for. The guinea pig girls watched me wandered around in the middle of the night, with big eyes. But just as happy when they got some food. I got in the car at 1 am and drove the almost one-hour long road to Lau Bönde, Ljugarn. I did not meet many cars, that’s for sure. But on the other hand, I saw several deer and rabbits along the way. It was still relatively dark, to be a summer night, as I turned into the yard.

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But the light and activities in the stable were fully on despite being “just” 2 am. I knew it could only be maximum five riders in total. I met Lisa in the stable, the owner and leader that would guide us to the sea. There were three other riders and Idun, a girl that I perceived to be Lisa’s helper with the tours.

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My horse was Sivan. A beautiful grey Icelandic horse with light mane and tail. She was munching on the hay as I went in the box to groom her. Idun then came to saddle her, I had to bridle her myself. We all had a cheese sandwich, yoghurt, tea or coffee and chocolate to pack down in our saddle bags.

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We led our horses out in the yard, mounted them and rode off. Time was around 2.30 am and it was still pretty dark outside, which was why we had reflective vests on. We walked for a long while.

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Passed misty fields and cultivated fields. As time passed by, the brighter the sky became.

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Now you could guess where the sun would meet the sky. We tölted some and then had to dismount and lead the horse down a pretty steep hill.

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Now it had gotten so bright that we could take our reflective vest off. We had to be close to the sea, the sun was almost rising above the horizon now. The horses seemed to know as well, as they were obviously more energetic. At the beach, were some pastures with heifers that looked at us as if we were nuts. Up, this early?

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Suddenly the beach just appeared in front of us. The shallow bay was inviting and the horses walked straight out in the water.

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We rode in the water, Lisa took pictures. Both one and one and in group.

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It was close to magical to see the pics afterwards. So beautiful!
The horses knew that it was soon time to munch on some grass along the beach, while we riders ate our packed breakfast. You had wet feet after riding in the water. You could canter along the water if you wanted to, but I didn’t feel like getting cold and wet.

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But the warm tea warmed well. When it was time to ride back to the stable, we were tölting a lot more.

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We were back in the stable in an hour. The horses were untacked and we said our goodbyes.
I changed my clothes and kept on with my planned rout for today.

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När Church

First halt was När Church. A medieval church, built in 12th Century with further buildings built in 12th and the 13th Centuries. The pink tower from the 13th Century has most likely been used as a defense facility and stands out with its crenelation. När Church is probably the lowest located church in Gotland, with its 6 meter above sea level. I headed towards Närsholmen which is a bare peninsula with rows of seawalls and open pastures, closest to a deserted place. The closer I got, the narrower the paved road got. I passed by red beautiful poppy fields, which I was going to photograph on the way back.

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När Lighthouse

Eventually, the road turned into a graveled road and soon thereafter I could spot the polka-dot-colored lighthouse När.
In the end of June, Blueweed is blooming and at the right time also the Elder-flowered Orchid can be seen. Even though I was there in the end of June I wasn’t able to see that much Blueweed. And the Elder-flowered Orchid had been blooming a while ago. The lighthouse is located on the bare outer part called Stångudden (Eng. Rod Cape). The name comes from the navigation mark that once was there in the shape of a rod. Along Gotland’s eastern coastline are deceptive currents and the lighthouse was intended to guide boats and save lives. När lighthouse was built in 1872 and the very same night the lighthouse was put in use, a ship got stranded. The skipper, on his way from Riga to Rotterdam, thought it was Hoburg lighthouse (standing on Gotland’s south end), changed his course and surprisingly got stranded as he actually was at När lighthouse.
It was pretty windy out on the cape. Warm winds though. The sun shined well. There is a hostel in the lighthouse keeper’s house, just next the lighthouse, where you can rent a room via Swedish Tourist Association. I’m sure it would be really cozy, if you know it will be wind free. I walked back to the car.

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Red Poppy Field

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Folhammar Nature Reserve

Drove north to Ljugarn and the Nature Reserve Folhammar. Here is an easily accessible minor rauk area. All around are pebble beaches that eventually turn into sand beaches.

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Rauks at Folhammar

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Rauks at Folhammar

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Rauks at Folhammar

The area wasn’t that impressive and no outstanding or famous rauk is here to see. But a moment for reflection and just taking things slow is just fine. In the beginning of the nature reserve is Vitvär Fishing Station.

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Vitvär Fishing Station

There are very few facts about Vitvär Fishing Station’s history. Today, it consists of about 20 wooden fishing huts built between the 18th and 2000 Centuries. The oldest are built with stone and tile roof and are believed to be from the 12th Century, but a source to this does not exist. The wooden huts have been restored and are today used as holiday homes.

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Vitvär Fishing Station

There is a long high pole that stands in front of Vitvär’s Fishing Station and should have existed in most fishing stations. “The Lighter”, often an older fisherman, was the man taking care of the pole. At the top was an iron basket that the Lighter made fire in, as the darkness began to fall so that the fishermen would find their way back home after a long day at sea.

Then I had an idea and sat course to the south, with Hoburgen as goal. A famous rauk that looks like an old man and it is also called Old Hoburg Man. It does not look much to the world and rauk has been marked with a sign, as it is not very easy to find otherwise. It is at the top of a 35-meter-high cliff.

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The rauk Hoburgen

Unfortunately, someone had vandalized the rauk and painted the nose pink. It’s such shame things can’t be left alone! Hoburg is as far south you can get on Gotland. It is a restaurant Majstregården if you get hungry.

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Hoburg Lighthouse

On the way to and from Hoburgen, I passed by Burgsvik. Here is the famous guesthouse Grå Gåsen (Eng. Grey Goose), known from the Swedish tv-series “Så mycket bättre”. Although it would have been fun to stop by, but it was way too many people. So many cars they had opened up a parking lot in a nearby field, so that anyone that wanted to could stay and visit the guesthouse. So, there was no way I was going to stop here.

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Instead, I chugged further north towards Visby. I took a full 1 hour and 45 minutes and the fatigue were starting to show, after the short sleep I had last night. So, it was straight to bed and rest for an hour or so as soon as I entered the apartment.
I took it easy for the rest of the day. A weather change had occurred and it rained a lot during the afternoon. So, I spent some time with my guinea pig girls and went to bed extra early that evening.

Posted by bejjan 08:33 Archived in Sweden Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises churches horseback_riding gotland rauks Comments (0)

Lummelunda Cave and Pippi Longstocking


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After a long night of good sleep, I woke up and had a calm morning ahead of me. The day started off with a visit in the Lummelunda Cave at 9.30 am. The cave is located north of Visby, about a 20-minute-drive by car. There are a lot of parking lots. You are welcome to arrive a little earlier than your booked time to visit the museum and watch a short movie about the Lummelunda Cave. Since the rain last evening and during the night, it was incredibly humid outside. So, it would be very nice to enter the cave. I really recommend a warm sweater during your visit in the cave, as it is constantly colder than +10 °C down there.

Lummelunda Cave is a huge tourist attraction in Gotland and has about 90,000 visitor each year. Since the start in 1960, when the first tour took place, 4.5 million visitors are said to have walked down the cave. Gotland’s bedrock consists of limestone, which contributes to an ultimate environment for the formation of cavities. It has taken at least 10,000 years for the water to penetrate into the bedrock and form the cavities we now call Lummelunda Cave. Carl von Linné visited the cave during his journey to Gotland in 1741, when he wrote down the water’s way to and into the cave and how the water then reappeared below the cliff at Lummelunda’s Mill. That is the first ever written depiction of the Lummelunda Cave.

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We gathered outside the manmade entrance to the cave. It has been blown up afterwards, to make it easier for visitors to get down into the cave. About 25 people in total had signed up for the tour at 9.30 am. There are multiple tours to choose from, I had chosen the regular one. If you like spending money or are incredibly interested in caves, you can get a lot further into the cave. But it can be very narrow passages and water you need to ride a boat on or walk through. So, in other words, not for those with claustrophobia.

About 4 km of cave has been explored and mapped, but new areas are discovered every year. How big Lummelunda Cave really is, no one knows today. The interest in exploring the cave further has always been huge, but there were three boys from Visby who, in 1948, discovered the cave and managed to pass through a narrow passage and into the area we now call The Mountain King’s Hall. The boys’ achievement was not made public until five years later, when the founder of Swedish Cave Association Leander Tell among others, took over and continued research. Annually, the week after midsummer (i.e. just this week), the up until now 4 km long cave is explored, mapped and inspected. In 1089, the cave became part of a nature reserve. Due to its sensitive nature, with fragile stalactites, you are not allowed to touch anything during the guided tour in the Lummelunda Cave. The constant cool temperature has meant that the local people have stored perishable goods in the outer parts of the cave for Centuries.

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Directly inside the door down to the cage, a concrete staircase leads down to the Mountain King’s Hall.

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Here, the guide told the story about the cave and how the many different stalactites are formed in the cave. Stalactites are formed from the cave ceiling, often narrow and long or possibly cone-shaped.

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We walked further into the cave through a narrow passage and we had to crouch down to get through. It is almost impossible for me to keep walking as a crouch. Would be nice with a painful lumbago right now!
We had arrived at the Chapel. Here, baptism, weddings and other church services had been held. White long narrow formation runs along the cave wall – unfortunately forgot the name.

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Now, you can’t get further with the regular tour. You can of course book a tour further into the cave, but you then have to continue on a raft, with waders, helmet and flash light. Thanks, but no thanks. The regular tour is enough. As we walked up the concrete stairs into the fresh air again, the glasses got misted. Not weird considering the chilly temperature and high humidity in the cave.
Outside the Lummelunda Cave’s exit, is the start of a 1 km long geological path. I take about 20-30 minutes to walk and the path ends at the cave’s original entrance. The path meandering its way up the cliff, above the cave with information boards describing the surroundings. I started to walk along the narrow path with the aim to get to and see the rauk Gamle Patron (Eng. Old Squire). If I had done a thorough research, I wouldn’t have had to walk the entire path.

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Because both the rauk and original entrance to the Lummelunda Cave is in the very end of the path, which turned out to be about 50 meters from the visitor center where the tour started. So instead of walking the entire path, I could have walked straight to the end of the path. Anyway.

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Old Squire hid high upon a cliff behind some trees. A sign marked where it was. Thank goodness for that. Otherwise, I had missed it completely. A pigeon sat on the “nose”, but flew away after a while.

I drove back to Visby, ate lunch and packed my bag for an afternoon in Visby – in Pippi Longstocking’s footsteps. It should be no secret that Pippi Longstocking was filmed in Visby. Gotland and especially Visby became strongly associated with Pippi Longstocking during the end of 1960s, when the tv-series with Inger Nilsson in the lead role was filmed. I easily walked down to Easter Gate and turned right and followed the pathway along Easter Trench.

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

Here, Pippi Longstocking rides by on her horse (Lilla Gubben), several times. I managed roughly to identified where the scenes had been shot. It was not easy to find the exact angle because both trees and bushes have been removed or grown up since that time. But roughly.

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

Also a few pictures of the Well gate and Norra Murgatan, that frequently appears in the tv-series of Pippi.

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

I strolled my way through the narrow alleys and came to Kyrkberget right next to the Cathedral, with even more houses and streets from different scenes.

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

Along Nygatan are many houses from different angles that appears in the tv-series.

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

Even the stairs where Pippi, Tommy and Annika sit and mix the medicine.

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

The Candy Store is located on Fiskargränd. The small candy store which Tommy and Annica always stopped at on the way to or from school, where Pippi later bought kilograms of candies for the children.

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

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Blue equals THEN, green equals NOW

Next to the ruin of Saint Nicholai is the playground where Prussiluskan played with all the small kind children and tried to teach them to sing “We come from Riara”. It has been done a lot here. Trees have been removed and new trees have grown up. Bushes and fences have changed. The playground has been made over. But with a little imagination you can still recognize it.

Alright, let’s just get nostalgic for a moment about the immensely popular tv-series. I can’t help it ;) Some scenes, such as walking high up on a rope, cycling in the air or carrying Lilla Gubben (her horse), were filmed in a studio with so called blue screen. At that time, they had a blue screen (why the actors couldn’t wear blue clothes), because trick filming new and difficult at this time. Today’s green screen and computerized world has revolutionized and made the world of filming without limits. It is being told that Inger (Pippi) and Maria (Annica) did not always get along. Maria had also applied for the role of Pippi and thought Inger did not fit at all. They did, at times, not get along and it is once said that it ended up with a swollen lip (which of the two got the swollen lip is not known however).
Pär, who played Tommy, was from Scania (southern part of Sweden) and got to practice speaking standard Swedish before the filming. But it sounded more like a southern dialect, which is why Öllegård (playing Tommy and Annica’s mom) had to practice a southern dialect to make it more believable. Pär (Tommy) was also the one to stand in for Ingen Nilsson (Pippi) when she didn’t dare to perform certain scenes. For an example, when “Pippi” is holding a python snake, or when “Pippi” is standing up on Lilla Gubben’s (the horse) back. That’s why these scenes are shot from behind, so that you do not see that it is actually Pär under that red wig.

But nothing is as strongly associated with Pippi as Villa Villekulla, this despite the fact that the house was one of the last “exteriors” not yet found just one month before filming was due to begin. Originally, an administrator’s house built in 1902 in Gotland’s regiment P18 just south of Visby, became the perfect house for Villa Villekulla. No indoor scenes were shot in the house, they were all filmed in a big studio in Solna, Stockholm. After the recordings of the tv-series and the first film, in winter 1969-1970, Villa Villekulla was moved – in one piece – with help of giant iron sleds to Kneippbyn, where the house still stands today for the public to see. The winter scenes were filmed in Norway. When Herr Nilsson (the monkey) is in the winter scenes, it is actually a stuffed monkey you see, because the real Herr Nilsson did not like snow or cold.

In the book about Pippi, her horse just goes by “horse”. Not until the filming started with Inger Nilsson in the lead role, the horse got its name “Lilla Gubben”. Once, Inger Nilsson gave him ginger cookies and said: Oh well, Lilla Gubben (Eng. Little Man), and the name was given. Lilla Gubben was a warmblooded gelding and lend out from Solna Equestrian School. He was the most popular horse to ride at the equestrian school despite his original name – Illbatting (Eng. Hoodlum) (born 1961 – dead 1986), but he was more known as Bunting, called by Butte. His mane and tale were colored before the filming and all the dots were painted on his body. After the filming, Butte was moved to another equestrian school but did not fit as an equestrian school horse anymore due to being spoiled during the filming. He had to move to a private stable in Vallentuna and spend his last years there. Butte became almost 25 years old.

The afternoon invited to a visit to the Gotland Museum. Are you interested in Swedish history, especially Gotland history, this is the place to visit. There are also a museum shop and restaurant. On ground level is their display of picture stones.

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A large number of unique picture stones have been found on Gotland, which have been dated back to the Early Irone Age, i.e. around 700s. The picture stones have been come to known as ancient comic books, as they often show the worldview of the time with, among other things, sailing boats with battle-ready crews and constitute an important source of information for the Nordic countries’ myths and pre-Christian religion. The picture stones consist almost entirely of limestone, which make them very sensitive to sun, wind and water, which easily erodes away the superficial décor.

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The stone was usually mushroom-shaped and divided in different fields with image motifs. The picture stones were mostly placed along roads and well-visited gathering places and recent research shows that they probably were important boundary markers. Today, however, most of the picture stones do not remain in their original places but have been built into churches, placed on grave fields or preserved at museums. The picture stones that have remained in nature and whose décor has been eroded away, are usually called blind picture stones.

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Hunningen Stone in Gotland Museum

An example is Hunninge Stones, which consist of four picture stones. The best-preserved stone, Hunninge Stone, was found during agriculture work in 1860 and can be seen at the Gotland Museum. The stone is enclosed by a braided pattern and the pictures are divided into two fields; one upper and one lower. The upper picture describes a battle and welcome scene where a rider, surrounded by several warriors on foot, gets a drinking horn from a woman. The lower picture shows several different scenes. At the top is a large longship. Underneath this, Gunnar Gjukason’s death in the snake pit, a scene from the story of Sigurd Fafnesbane. At the very bottom of the Hunninge Stone, two men are seen with bow and arrow, defending their house and tied-up cow.

It would have been nice to have some kind of map over the museum. Because it was definitely not easy to find your way around. It was three (or was it four?) floors in different houses with corridors in between. Eventually, I had no idea where I had been or if I had missed something. Or, perhaps that was the purpose of all this. To wander around, slightly confused, and search one’s way?

An entire exhibition was about Valdemar Atterdag’s invasion of Visby in 1361. When Denmark overtook the Scanian landscape in 1360, the Danish king wanted the wealthy rich people in the Hanseatic Cities (where Visby was included) to pay for and renew their trade privileges. When the Danish, then modernly, armored professional soldiers disembarked on southern Gotland, the peasants’ defenses were easily defeated. On July 27th 1361, Danish troops attacked Visby resulting in a bloody massacre, the Battle at Crucifixion, with more than 2000 fallen Danish soldiers and Gutes that were buried in mass graves still in their armor, barely 1 km outside the ring wall. The battle was short-lived and two days later, the city recognized Valdemar Atterdag as new ruler of Visby, in exchange for “all the rights and freedoms it has long held”. But in this case the word Gute can be replaced for peasants, since only farmers were killed outside the ring wall in the end of July in 1361. The townspeople had closed every gateway and shut out the peasants and sat pending on the inside of the ring wall during the attack.

Shortly thereafter, in Mästerby, a ring cross was erected at the site of the massacre with the inscription: “In Lord’s year in 1361 on July 27, outside Visby gates, these buried Gutes fell into Danish hands: pray for them”. Who erected the ring cross? Could it have been Danish Valdemar, without mentioning the fallen compatriots and without the text to also pray for them? Could it have been the townspeople of Visby themselves, who witnessed the slaughter of the peasants outside the ring wall, but without mentioning the loss of their own when Atterdag finally entered Visby?

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The ring cross in Mästerby

The ring cross in Mästerby still stands in its original place in Mästerby Änge. I drove by during the afternoon but it was first of all no easy to find. Not a single sign posted how to find it. Second, once you found the cross, it stands on private land and in the middle of a field. Third, I had no my big camera with me and had a hard time getting a good picture with my cell phone. So, is it a place worth visit? No!

The king of Sweden at the time, Magnus Eriksson, knew Valdemar Atterdag would attack Gotland. As early as May 31 in 1361, he warned the townspeople of Visby by letter to keep the ring wall and harbor under surveillance, both day and night. Whether that information was communicated to the Gutes (farmers), we will probably never know. But as the peasants’ defense was easily defeated and the action of the city towards the peasants lead all conclusions in one direction. In a letter Valdemar Atterdag sent shortly afterwards to the other Hansa cities, he wrote that the Hansa’s goods in the city had been saved through payment, which should have caused some kind of plundering. Denmark’s attack on Visby therefore caused conflict between Hanseatic League and Denmark, as the Hansa considered Visby as their city. Valdemar Atterdag should have received no less than 77 declarations of war from the Hanseatic League, for taking over Gotland but also because Valdemar taxed the herring fishery in Øresund.

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According to legend, the alleged fire plundering was paid for when the townspeople had filled up three building containers with gold, silver and other valuables. During the journey back to Denmark, one of Valdemar’s ships is said to have sunk just off the Karlsö Islands, with precious goods taken from the island’s churches, cathedrals and city dwellers.

Only a few people know that the following year, i.e. 1362, Visby was actually burned down. This is stated in the Visby Franciscans’ book, translated by the Latin professor Eva Odelman: “In the Lord’s year 1361, king Valdemar of Denmark, Gotland and Visby, where he killed about one thousand eight hundred peasants in a battle before St James the Great day. After receiving a greater treasure from the city and country, he returned home with his people, and the following year the city was turned into ashes and the towers of the Holy Maiden Church with its bells were destroyed by the fire”. The fact that the city was “turned into ashes” indicates someone intentionally started a fire. But the question is, who did it? Could Valdemar himself have done it? Or was it the peasants who avenged the city dwellers for intentionally, in cold blood, have watched the peasants being slaughtered by Valdemar’s armies, the year before? However, there is very few historical evidences of fire in Visby in 1632 and who the alleged culprit would be.

After a warm and sweaty hour in Gotland Museum, it was almost comfortable getting out in the “heat” along Visby’s alleys again. I wandered around and photographed some on the old church ruins, around the city. The churches of Visby were built in the beginning of 13th Century when Visby was one of the largest cities in Europe. Visby was not only wealthy but also famous and had authority. From these glory days, only the Cathedral remain intact today. Ten church ruins remain inside the ring wall dotted here, there and everywhere.

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S:t Peter and S:t Hans Church ruin

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S:t Peter and S:t Hans Church ruin

Saint Peter and Saint Hans Church ruin. Once, these two churches were together the biggest church in Visby. Saint Peters Church was built during the 12th Century and during the 13th Century a new church (Saint Hans) was built because Saint Peter had become too small. They shared a wall and was in that way partially together, which was unusual. Though, after the Reformation during the 16th Century the churches degraded and was used as a quarry during the 18th Century.

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S:t Olof Church ruin

Almost completely covered with ivy is S:t Olof Church ruin, also this one, just outside the Botanical Garden. The church was in this time one of the largest in Visby and most lavished church from the 13th Century.

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S:t Olof Church ruin

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S:t Olof Church ruin

Today, only parts from the west tower remain to be seen above ground, because the church was used as quarry for other buildings. Inside the gates one can see the beautiful ceiling. The name come from the national Saint Olaf II of Norway. It’s said that he must have contributed Gotland becoming a Christian and that’s why his image is found in many Gotland churches.
Olav II of Norway was anything but a saint during his days as a Viking and forays. After he became a Christian, he used quite cruel methods to convert people in Norway, among other places. If Christianity was not adopted, the farms were burned down and the people were mutilated or brutally killed. One cannot help but think about how someone so bestial could have been canonized.

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S:t Clement Church ruin

With its mighty arches and columns, S:t Clement is one of all old church ruins in Visy and is close to the Botanical Garden. Next to the ruin is a hotel with the same name that both owns and manages the ruin today.

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S:t Clement Church ruin

The ruin can be rented for events like parties and weddings, for those who wish. To enter the ruin, you walk through the hotel reception. The name comes from Pope Clement I, who lived around 50ies after Christ. S:t Clement’s big mission converting people to Christianity was little appreciated and ended in martyrdom. With an anchor around his neck, he was sunk in the sea. After his tragical death, S:t Clement has become the patron of seafarers.

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S:t Clement Church ruin

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S:t Clement Church ruin

There is a story about the Clement Church that goes about a golden goose. Not to be confused with the Grimm Brothers’ saga Golden Goose! During the 17th Century, a cobbler trainee by the name of Hans Turitz from Germany, sat in an inn in Italy. He then happened to over-hear two Gotlandic monks talking about a treasure walled in S:t Clement Church in Gotland. The treasure consisted of a goose and 24 goslings in pure gold. Said and done, Hans traveled to Gotland and found the walled in goose and its goslings in the church wall. The cobble trainee now became a rich man who stayed in Visby and got married and was eventually elected mayor of Visby. How much of this story is true? Well, there has been a mayor in Visby by that name. And yes, many of the church’s treasures were hidden away from the Reformation. But how could the German man understand the Gutes? One must assume they spoke Gotlandic to each other. Because it sounds incredible if the Gotlandic monks would speak German to each other during a trip to Italy.

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Kajsar Tower

I walked back towards the Easter Gate again. I then turned south along Södra Murgatan and stopped at Kajsar Tower.
The Kajsar Tower is one of the oldest ground towers included in the ring wall. It was more than five floors high and its primarily function was storage and defense. The name is known since the 1750s and comes from the Swedish word for Emperor.

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With 2.6 meters thick walls and unusual height, it was the strongest tower in the east part of the wall. On July 28 in 1681, the Kajsar Tower was chosen to be county prison and was thought as a backup prison until a new prison had been built. However, it would not be until 1859 (180 years!) before that happened. The prison was built together with Kajsar Tower from the outside, but was demolished only seven years later. While the prisoners were held in Kajsar Tower awaiting their sentences, which could take several months, some died and sometimes even gave birth to children in captivity. For those who died, their corpses began to rot before a decision was made as to whether the corpses would be buried at the Gallows Hill or in holy ground. One of the women in captivity here, was Brita Biörn, accused of witchcraft and cunning.
At the bottom floor of Kajsar Tower was the dark arrest, completely without light. Here totally isolated, sat the soon 80-year-old “Little Ingeborg” (Ingeborg Jonasdotter) in complete darkness during winter of 1705. Another woman had accused Little Ingeborg of witchcraft and sorcery. During the trial against Ingeborg was going on, she was tortured with a thumbscrew to force her confession. On New Year’s Eve, she was transferred to Gunpowder Tower where she died shortly thereafter. Today, Kajsar Tower houses a prison museum. But it costs 50 SEK to enter. Was it worth the money? Nah, not really. I actually expected more.

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The forbidden broad lace

The story about Catharina Nilsdotter Eke touched me a little extra. She was locked in the Kajsar Tower between June 11th and July 5th, 1746, on bread and water. Her crime? Well, she had been wearing forbidden broad lace.

I decided to take the care and drive to Roma Royal Demesne that is about 30 minutes away from Visby. On the way you pass by Roma Church.

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Roma Church

Roma Church was finished in the middle of the 13th Century. It is one of Gotland countryside’s largest churches.

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Roma Church's bell tower

The bell tower was brought from Ukraine in 1929. Roma Church is somewhat different from most other churches as it lacks a tower. The western gable of the longhouse is instead crowned by an octagonal spire with a bell floor.

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If you keep on going a few kilometers further, you reach Roma Royal Demesne. A beautiful tree avenue leads up to the estate surrounded by cultured fields. Parking is free of charge.

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Roma Royal Demesne

The Roma Royal Demesne now have a coffee shop, art gallery, handcraft and exhibitions.

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Roma Monastery

But perhaps most known for the nearby Abbey ruins, Roma Monastery. The monastery was founded in 1164 by a catholic monastic order, originally from France. At the time, the Gutnic Althing (Gutnaltinget) had its annual meeting here. Perhaps it was during such meeting that it was decided to give land to the monastery? The monastery got the name Saint Mary de Gutnalia and consisted of, apart from the actual monastery, also a house with a kitchen and dining area, housing for monks and a church. The monastery was active until the Reformation during 1530s and it was closed as the king claimed the property.

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Roma Monastery

Roma became Royal Demesne and material from the monastery ruins were used to expand the Royal Demesne with more buildings. The Abbey ruins are easy to photograph in several angles.

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Roma Monastery

Today, the monastery ruin is used for theatrical performances during summer, among other things.
After some pictures, I went back to my car and kept on driving towards Buttle. In Buttle Änge are, still today, two picture stones in their original places. They were erected sometimes during the Viking Age (probably during 700s to 800s). Thank goodness for road signs, I’ll tell you! Otherwise, it would not have been easy to find. You have to travel on a bumpy narrow dirt road before arriving at the parking space. From here, you must walk around some houses to get to the stones.

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Buttle Änge Picture Stones

The bigger one is about 3.8 meters high and is Gotland’s largest. The motifs have been eroded away by weather and wind during the years – so no matter how much I looked at the stones, I could not distinguish anything.
It was not much more to see here. So, I turned around and went back to the car. But instead of going straight back to Visby, I took a detour too Dalhem Church.

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Dalhem Church

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Dalhem Church

Dalhem Church was built in the 13th Century but has been restored during the 20th Century. Its tower is 50 meters high. Out of all Gotlandic churches, Dalhem Church is one of few to receive a star in Guide Michelins Green Book with attractions. In the beginning of 20th Century, A.H Hägg and C.W Pettersson created a fantastic painting covering almost all walls and ceiling. The renovation made Dalhem Church referred to as Gotland’s natural shrine.

Now it was time to drive back to Visby. I was tired both physically and mentally. In fact, I had plans for a tour with the old steam locomotive today. But since the old and beautiful steam locomotive was till in service during 2021, so it got to be. They used an old service locomotive instead. No thank you. Should it be, then it should be… nothing else. Roma was the junction of all rail traffic during the mid-19th Century until the mid-20th Century. In 1960, all railroad activities stopped on Gotland and is today the only part of Sweden that does not have an official railroad. But thanks to a non-profit organization, Gotlandståget, they managed to save a few locomotives and parts of the railroad from being destroyed. Until today, the railroad has expanded in stages and nowadays runs between Hesselby (Dalhem) and Roma Royal Demesne.

Posted by bejjan 09:07 Archived in Sweden Tagged gotland lummelunda_cave pippi pippi_longstocking Comments (0)

Rauk'n'Roll


View Gotland 2021 on bejjan's travel map.

Today, it would unfortunately be windy, but hot. Well, what can you do? Up and away at 8 am with aim for Fårösund, but just before turn left and rive towards the well-visited Blue Lagoon. One might think it should be signposted to such popular place, but no. Either you turn off already in Rute, towards Fleringe. Or, you go closer to Fårösund and take off towards Hau.
I drove and drove, the terrain around me became more and more flat and the trees lower and lower. You could tell I was close to the sea now. Gotland’s largest lake, Bästeträsk, eventually showed up by my side. But oh my God, wasn’t I there yet? Had I missed to turn? Suddenly, when I was thinking about turning around, a sign “Blå Lagunen” (Blue Lagoon) showed up. I was immediately met by a large sign saying it cost 30 SEK to park during the day and that the money went to a local socker team that took care of the cleaning in the area. Well, why not? The money went to something good. I easily paid the amount with the Swish-app and showed it to the parking attendant. The reception here was really bad, I had to walk out of the car and put up the cell phone in the air to get connection.

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There were barely 15 cars in the parking lot as I arrived, at 9.20 am. Blue Lagoon has been an old limestone quarry where stones have been quarried for hundreds of years. Today, the quarry is filled with clear blue water and is an immensely popular bathing place. Here is a short sand beach with pretty shallow water, great for kids. The beach quickly became full with bathing guests. If you are willing to walk for some distance around the quarry, there are other places to access the water. But often it gets deep quickly, so please think about that. It took about half an hour to walk around the quarry and as I got back to the parking lot around 10 am, the parking lot was basically full.

I got in the car and started driving towards the east coast and many of the rauk areas located there. So why not dig into the world of rauks? Gotland’s bedrock is one of the best-preserved Silurian reefs in the world and started building about 430 million years ago during the 24 million year-long Silurian Age. The island was then just south of the equator and in the warm and sunny climate, corals and stromatoporoids built up the coral reefs that mostly consists of. Gotland’s reef formations are described as a fossil barrier reef and the great variation in the composition among the reef forming organisms depicts the island’s geological position during the continental drift. In between of all these fossil layers of reefs are both limestone and marl. About 10,000 years ago, after the last ice age, Gotland was completely covered with water. Thanks to the land uplift, sea and land could meet and the easy eroded limestone and marl were worn away be the waves, and leaving a solid aged limestone – that we today call rauks.

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Rauks in Lergrav Nature Reserve

I first arrived at the nature reserve Lergravsviken. The reserve stretches along a cliff with more than fifty rauks in the slope below the cliff.

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The rauk Lergrav Gate

You easily find the well-known Lergravsporten (Eng. Lergrav Gate), which is just as it sounds – a rauk with a hole (port) in it which you can go through.

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Furillen

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Furillen

From here, it was not far to Furillen. I still don’t get why this area I so immensely popular. Yes, it is an island with old buildings left from the former limestone industry that was operated here until 1970s. Nowadays, hotel operations and conferences are now conducted in the old factory premises. But it was no more than that. Well-well, I took some pictures. The island is owned, today, by a photographer and many pictures for commercials, music and fashion are taken here.

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Rauks in Kyllaj Nature Reserve

With only a few-minute-car-ride, I reached the Rature Reserve Malms- Kyllaj. The reserve includes about 50 rauks. I really don’t know why I went here. I was just in the neighborhood, so to say. It definitely did not impress me, in any way.

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Rauks in Kyllaj Nature Reserve

There are no famous rauks here. No service at all. So. If you are wondering if it is worth the trip here… if I say it like this, don’t travel here just to visit only these rauks.

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Asunden

Now it was time for a visit to Asunden, something I had researched about long before this trip. I knew it would be hard to find – my research had already revealed that to me. But shame on he who gives up. Eventually, I ended up on the right dirt road with small road signs named Asunden.
Outside Slite, on northeastern Gotland, lies Asunden with its barren moorland and memorable sea stack field. The island is about 2 x 1 km and was until the end of the 1990ies a protected military area and exercise field. Today, Asunden is free to visit which can be reached by foot or by car via a narrow road bridge, but deviating from the road (for example to park) is not recommended as it is an old military area and old remaining grenades can remain in the ground. The northwest part of the island is part of Natura 2000 and has a rich bird life on the beach meadows. Today, the eastern side of Asunden is a nature reserve with a large number of rauks (sea stacks).

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Rauks in Asunden

Many rauks are over 2 meters high and one of Gotland’s largest rauks is here with its 9 meter in height. Many believe that Asunden may be the new peninsula Furillen, with Slite’s lime white industrial buildings in the background. Asunden is popular with fishermen and fishermen stroll around in waterproof fishing pants at the water’s edge – large and good sea trout can be found here.
The wind had not made much of a fuss, so far... but gosh – now it was almost full-blown storm! Heavy wind and waves hitting the pebble beaches. Although, it was warm winds, you had to fight your way through. I had to hold on to my sunhat, or it would have been gone with the wind. To reach the rauk area, you must go through a sheep pasture. The rauks got higher and higher the closer I got. There were no other people at that point, so I had great pictures. Even though it doesn’t really show in the pictures, it was really wind at the rauks as well. As I turned around and went back, several families with kids had just reached the rauk area. The kids were running around and played, some even had their dogs with them.

Back in the car, I realized my packed snack and sandwiches were out and I started to get hungry. Slite was just a few kilometers away, it must be some kind of restaurant. I programmed my GPS and arrived at a restaurant at the seaside resort. But there was hardly any parking and they wanted money for the parking. No, I drove further and ended up in Åminne Leisure & Seaside Resort. Here, they had a restaurant with free parking and also parking in the shadow. Perfect! It had to be a Åminne Burger. Delicious! If you must be critical, the fries could have been a little more fried.

Full of food, I drove to Tofta Gnisvärd Fishing Station. It surprised me that the roads that runs east-west direction are very narrow and not at all as wide and great as the north-south roads. So, it took its time to get from the east coast to the west coast. It felt like I passed by and turned at every mailbox there was. But shame on he who gives up.

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Gnisvärd Fishing Station

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Gnisvärd Fishing Station

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Gnisvärd Fishing Station

A very beautiful fishing station with well-preserved fishing huts. Totally worth the trip. Time was around half past four and the rush-hour and tourists from Tofta Camping Resort made it difficult to got on the bigger road towards Visby again.

Posted by bejjan 10:25 Archived in Sweden Tagged blue_lagoon gotland rauks Comments (0)

History, flowers and ruins…


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You cannot visit Visby without making it about history. Being a World Heritage and all. I have, already, mentioned several things earlier in this blog, so here comes a short re-cap…

Gotland has strongly been influenced by its location in the middle of Baltic Sea, mainly in trading. In the very beginning when the inland ice retracted from the Baltic Sea (about 10,000 years ago), Gotland was still submerged under sea surface. During Stone Age, the sea surface had sunk so much that Gotland then consisted of several islands covered with pine and deciduous forests and open heathlands. Fishermen and seal hunters inhabited the islands and several settlements have recently been found in several places around Gotland with remains up to 9000 years old. Shipwrecks and grave fields from the Bronze and Iron Ages have also been discovered. Around year 1000, the Gotlandic tradition of erected picture stones passed into the era of runestones when the rune loops made their entrance.

Except between the years 1676-1679 (when Denmark recaptured the island), Gotland has been Swedish since the Treaty of Brömsebro, in 1645. Before that, Gotland had belonged to numerous alliances and countries for almost 300 years. The governor and merchants settled down in Visby, but despite this, the business community was slowed down by high taxes and Gotland was repeatedly hit by plague, hunger and war. In 1720, there were only 1186 people registered in Visby and with all the church ruins and dilapidated houses, the city was more reminiscent of a ruined city than ever.

Despite that, Visby had an upswing in the middle of 18th Century and house constructions started. By 1780, there were over 5000 inhabitants in the city. During 19th Century, the population continued to increase and the city became densely populated. Schools of various kinds, hospitals, hotels and restaurants were built to stimulate tourism and a prison was built south of Visby harbor. New communications were established during late 19th Century through the railway and a harbor built for steamboats. Now, the inhabitants no longer had space inside the ring wall and more and more areas outside the wall were set up for residential living. The cultural significance and interest of the inner city was stimulated and tourism has since coming to the island, year after year. In 1995, the ring wall was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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Easter Gate

Woke up pretty early, for being a Saturday. It was hard to sleep as the sun shined through the windows. After breakfast, I walked down to Easter Gate and zig-zagged my way through the beautiful rose-covered alleys of Visby. There was not much happening at this hour. But the central town was waking up.

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A few cafes started to bring out chairs and tables, and swept along the street.

The plan was to spend the morning in the Botanical Garden in the northern part of Visby. It was founded in 1855 and plants, that should hate the climate here, are thriving thanks to Visby being in cultivation zone 1. There are multiple entries to the partly leafy garden. No matter which one you choose, you eventually get to the Solvisarplan (the Sundial), the heart of the garden.

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The Sundial

The stoned half circle with perennials encloses the sundial, surrounded by a pergola with stone pillars and fragrant clematis and roses. I was here at the right time because the sun was basically shining in front of Solvisarplanen and gave almost the perfect light.

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Rosariet

Next is the Rosariet with roses in rows blooming well into late autumn. The roses had just been watered, so the waterdrops on the rose petals shimmered beautifully in the sun light.

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The Gazebo

The beautiful gazebo stands on top of Temple Hill, surrounded by flowers and plants from all around the world. Not far from there is the Herb Garden with pallet collars filled with herbs and medicinal plants, with an interesting cultural-historical perspective.

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A Tulip Tree Flower

I walked on through the park and found the Tulip Tree in blossom.
For a while, I sat on a park bench in the shadow by the Oval.

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The Oval

It is a stone column with an urn on top, probably from the Middle Age.

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The Botanical Garden goes along the beach wall. Beach wall? You think. Well, because the ring wall is divided in the beach wall and land wall. The beach wall has proven to be the oldest and is believed to have been built in around 1250. About thirty years later, the land wall itself was built, which consisted of, then, a 5- to 6-meter-tall wall with raised platforms for archers with arrow slits in regular intervals.

During the mid-14th Century, the 3,4 km long limestone wall is considered to have been completed with walls up to 11 meters high and over 50 tower and 3 main gates; South Gate, East Gate and North Gate. The ring wall, except in the west, was surrounded by trenches but they were not filled with water. The main purpose of the dry trenches was to prevent riders and catapults from reaching all the way to the wall. The trenches at the eastern ring wall were flattened during 19th Century to serve as a shooting range. During his intake of Visby, Valdemar Atterdag formally demolished parts of the south wall as a symbol of submission. A couple of years later, the demolished part was walled up again. The ring wall was restored between 1884-1886 by the architect Emil Viktor Langlet and there are 27 ground towers and 9 towers riding on the wall left to be seen today. Each tower has a unique name and story to it. How many are legends and how many are pure facts, I leave up to you to decide.

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Maiden Tower

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Maiden Tower

I started my walk along the wall at Maiden Tower. The Maiden Tower may have got its name from the legend about Unghanse’s daughter, daughter of Nils goldsmith from Unghanse. When Denmark’s King Valdemar Atterdag, disguised as trader, visited Visby in 1360 to prepare for an attack against the city, Unghanse’s daughter started a relationship with him. Her father, a rich national judge, found out about it and expelled Valdemar. Next year, Valdemar returned and plundered the island. Unghanse’s daughter looked Valdemar up in Visby and provided him with information on the promise that he would take her with him when he returned to Denmark. However, Valdemar Atterdag left her behind, whereupon she was arrested by the Gutes and immured in the wall of the Maiden Tower. Today, one knows the tower didn’t exist at the time of the legend but was not built until the 15th Century. But despite this, the legend about Unghanse’s daughter is retold annually during Medieval Week. The name Maiden Tower should rather, according to folklore, come from the older Swedish measurement unit 1 jungfru = 8.2 cl, which is reminiscent of the Maiden Tower shape (wide bottom and tapering top).

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Love Gate

A little further south, you arrive at Love Gate. The gate is very popular among loving couples and numerous proposals and even weddings have been arranged here.

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Love Gate

Many people sit here in the evening and awaits the sunset that ought to be magic here.

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Gunpowder Tower

Even a little further sought you come upon Gunpowder Tower. Or Sheep Tower as it was formerly named. The construction of the Sheep Tower in 1160-1161 became the starting point for Visby’s ring wall. A detached ground tower in stone was built by the north harbor of Visby for crossbowmen to be able to attack approaching ships. In 1710, the Sheep Tower began to be used as a gunpowder depot and got its current name, Gunpowder Tower. The tower could only be reached through a small hatch, about 10 meters up the wall, via a ladder which was then pulled up. That made it difficult for any attackers to take the tower. Due to the post-glacial rebound, however, the harbor has vanished from the site and the Gunpowder Tower now stands on the site we know as Almedalen. Turn towards the inner city again, you come to several of Visby’s church ruins. The churches of Visby were built in the beginning of 13th Century, when Visby was one of the largest cities in Europe. Visby was not just wealthy but famous and had power. From these glory days, only the cathedral remains intact today. Ten church ruins still remain within the ring wall, scattered here and there.

I am now going to present some more church ruins, which I visited during the week.

Saint Lawrence Church Ruin and Drotten, also known as the sister churches as they are so close to each other.

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S:t Lawrence Church ruin

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S:t Lawrence Church ruin

S:t Lawrences' oldest parts is most likely from the 12th Century. The church expanded during early 13th Century due to the population increase taking place. Soon thereafter, a German parish church was built, Drotten, on the same church yard.

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Drotten Church ruin

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Drotten Church ruin

Drotten’s Church Ruin, or Saint Trinitatis (the Trinity Church) as it was actually named, was built in 1240s, but was abandoned during the Reformation as many other churches. The church was dedicated to Saint Laurentius, who died martyrdom in Rome on a burning gridiron. The word Drott is mentioned already in the Guta Law and means “owner of a slave”. In many other contexts it means King or Prince.
Saint Nicholas.

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S:t Nicholas Church ruin

Today, S:t Nicholas Church ruin is used for artistic performances such as music. The church was built around 1230 and got its name from patron Saint Nicholas of Myra, or Nicholas the Wonderworker, who lived around the 300s in Turkey as a bishop. Nicholas was said to be able to perform miracles and could be in several places at the same time during his life. But mostly known for his prayers to help ships in storms and became the patron of the sailors and fishermen, thus a well-chosen patron of the medieval town of Visby. Nicholas is also known as Santa Claus. There are those who believe that Nicholas’ generosity that eventually created our Santa Claus of our time.

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S:t Nicholas Church ruin

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S:t Nicholas Church ruin

S:t Nicholas was built for the Dominican Order and their monastic life as a sanctuary. The Order was, too, a beggingly order and the members were called black brothers or black monks - due to their black coats. One believes as the Dominican Order came to Visby, they took over an already commenced church construction. But the church tower was demolished immediately as the orders churches had no towers. S:t Nicholas was completed around 15th Century with dining areas, dormitories, library and kitchen. There is no floorplan or remaining ruin left to tell what the church really looked like as it probably was destroyed during the Lübeck attack in 1525.

I walked back to the Main Square. Some market stalls had been put up on the square in hopes of selling souvenirs, sheepskin and handcrafts to tourists passing by. It had started to fill up with people now. Outdoor cafes and coffee shops had opened and many were seated outside eating ice cream. I was craving for ice cream as well. So, I managed to get inside and by a cornet with strawberry and blueberry. Yummy!

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S:t Catherine Church ruin

Next to the Main Square is the ruin of S:t Catharine. Or S:t Carin in everyday speech, depending on who you ask. But other historical names and spellings does exist.

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S:t Catherine Church ruin

The church belonged to the first Franciscan Monastery in Sweden, founded in Visby in 1233. The Franciscan Order preached total poverty and lived on alms and gifts. Instead of monks and nuns, one was brothers and sisters. But names like barefoot brothers and grey brothers also existed as they often were barefoot and wore grey coats. The church stood in the middle of Visby and a marketplace was formed directly in front of the church, which today is the Main Square. The church was well visited and needed to expand. Gotlandic churches often expanded by new buildings around the existing one, which gave generated a mix of styles with e.g. Gothic choirs, nave and Romanesque towers. S:t Catherine’s expansion was ongoing until the mid-14th Century, when it came to a halt. Perhaps it was due to Valdemar Atterdag’s take-over of Visby in 1361? A few decades later, the expansion was resumed and lasted until beginning of 15th Century. S:t Catherine was at its largest in 15th Century but was never fully completed because the money was spent on the parish buildings instead. The unique thing about the church, visible to the attentive one, is that the vaults were built of bricks and not limestone – which is unique in Visby.

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S:t Catherine Church ruin

S:t Catharine Church got its name from Catherine of Alexandria who lived in Egypt around the year 300. As a maiden and of royal birth, she resisted the emperor’s seduction which resulted in imprisonment. There, in prison, she is said to have converted the emperor’s wife, warlord and many soldiers and was therefore sentenced to death by beheading.

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Helge And Church ruin

Yet another church ruin, Helge And, was built during early 13th Century and the octagonal church is the only one of its kind in Sweden. Though, similar churches existed in Europe in castles and palaces during the same period of time. The identity of the church throughout history is disputed, as the information about this church is few. The name comes from the infirmary, the Holy Ghost, located south of the church and was a hospital for old, poor and sick people.

But there was one church ruin that managed to escape me, namely S:t Gertrud. It still bothers me a little. But, when I google it, I understand why. It’s not immediately the case that the ruin stands out and shouts “Hey, here’s a church ruin!”… no. It looks more or less like a relatively low stone wall. So, no wonder it was easy to miss.

I went back to the apartment and ate some lunch. I went and refueled the car for tomorrow’s journey back home. But it was still time left to do something more, before it was time to end the day. In my research before this trip, there was a suggestion about Södra Hällarna.

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Södra Hällarna

The area is pretty close to the ferry terminal and stretches south from Visby, along the rocky coast. Said and done. I parked the car and started to walk along the bare cliff landscape. It was warm, +27 °C. Warm winds. I had to put one hand on the sunhat in case there would be a gust of wind and blow off the hat.

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Viewing point in Södra Hällarna

Silja Line was inside the harbor which explained the sudden increase of people in the town center during the day. But now, it seemed like the passengers were heading back towards the ferry again.

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Södra Hällarna

If you walk along the cliff edge, you will eventually come to a staircase. The stairs take you down to the pebble beach below. But the staircase is steep! And it turns into a partially steep trail.

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Pebble beach in Södra Hällarna

Logically, it should have been cooler down there, but the rocks and warm sunshine made it like a sauna down there at the beach.
Now, it began to feel like I was done with both Visby and Gotland for now. I had been checking most things on my To Do-list. I returned to the apartment and started to pack things up.

Posted by bejjan 10:50 Archived in Sweden Tagged churches visby gotland Comments (0)

Journey back home


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And so had the departure day finally arrived. Away is good, but home is best – as they say. By now, you longed for your bed. I had plenty of time to pack down all the things I had brought with me. It’s an art to enough stuff… I belong to them who pack too much. Usually, clothes that I have not worn, but is good to have just in case. Packed everything in the car again. And eventually me and my guinea pig girls. Returned the apartment key and figured out that I had just over 2 hours and 30 minutes left until the ferry departs. Luckily, there are many cafes that allows animals.

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I chose to go to ZooMarket. A perfect little place, with adjoining pet store and dog pool. I bought a chicken salad and the girls had some brought cucumber and pepper to munch on. I sat in the café until the gates opened up. Then I took the car and drove about 10 minutes down to the harbor and got in the queue. Once again, I had tickets on m/s Visborg and my own animal cabin for me and the girls. Now I knew exactly where the animal cabins were on the ferry, so I rushed there.

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Time was pretty much exactly at 2 pm as the ferry started departing and I walked out on dock and snatched some last photos. The captain made his welcome speech in the speakers. Now I could here what was said, much better than the outward journey. The total number of passengers on this trip were 1254. Then I spent the rest of the time in the cabin. Corona safe. It takes about 3 hours and 15 minutes to get from Visby back to Nynäshamn. I had brought a Caesar salad that I had for lunch and even had time for a nap before it was time to walk down to the car again and drive off the ferry.

Posted by bejjan 11:43 Archived in Sweden Tagged ferry gotland Comments (0)

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