Monday, September 5, 2011

Our Visby Vacation

This weekend Matt and I decided to take advantage of the warm weather (our temperatures here seem to be making a rapid descent into autumn) and hop the ferry to the island of Gotland, Sweden's largest island and the largest island in the Baltic Sea.  Our final destination was the city of Visby, a UNESCO World Heritage site and remarkably preserved medieval walled city. Now, I get excited just going to the Medieval Times Dinner Theater, so staying in a town that dates from the 12th century was a real treat for me.

From the top of the hill you get a great view Visby all the way to the Baltic Sea
 To begin our mini-adventure, we had to drive from Jönköping to Oskarshamn. During the two hour drive, we realized that the Swedish countryside is (1) breathtaking and (2) devoid of highways in the American sense of the word. Apparently, driving across Sweden is something to be enjoyed, not just accomplished, and (GPS malfunctions notwithstanding) enjoy it we did! From Oskarshamn we boarded the ferry and settled in for another three hours.

Leaving Oskarshamn

On board our ferry

Our reservations in the city of roses and ruins were at the Medieval Hotel, originally built in 1302.  Our room was small, but comfortable, the breakfast buffet delectable, and the location was perfect.  From our room we could see the towers and hear the bells of the Visby Cathedral, built in 1225, and dedicated to Saint Mary. 

As Gracie would say "It's Eat Time!"

We had a room with a view!

After breakfast we started on foot to find bicycles to rent for the day. What should have been a ten minute walk took over an hour since we completely lost our focus every time we saw a set of ruins, or a beautiful garden, or stone sheep.  (Gotland Sheep were established by the Vikings and are famous for their silky grey and black fleece.)  Eventually we rented our bikes and enjoyed the city of Visby, the Ringmuren (Ring Wall), views of the Baltic Sea, and the Gotland Museum.  We took over 400 pictures in the 24 hours we spent in Visby, so I tried to select the best ones for you.  Enjoy!

Leaving our hotel in search of adventure!

This is why we left the stroller in the room.

I think Gracie sat on every stone sheep in Visby.

We finally got our bikes!  This is the main entrance to the city.

The Gotland Museum had some great artifacts (including REAL VIKINGS), but since flash photography was forbidden, clear pictures were few and far between.

Outside of the museum

Look!  A Viking!  Actually, this is a female viking, wearing jewelry around her neck. Gracie bluntly told me she was dead and not to take pictures.


From one of the many church ruins


It is important to wear one's armor properly.

Viking treasure.  According to the sign, this collection of coins was found in a rabbit hole by a group of school children.

Finally, some pictures of the Visby Cathedral.  This is the only church from the period still in tact in the city.  After the reformation most of the churches were largely abandoned and finally destroyed in the 1500s.

Though we missed the annual medieval festival and we only stayed for two nights, we were blessed with beautiful weather and mesmerising surroundings.  The city is stunning, I only wish my photojournalism skills were better able to capture the experience for you.

Farewell Visby.

1 comment:

  1. Looks awesome! I love the general lack of crowded-ness ;) nice crumbling arches too...were there "do not climb" signs ?