land of the goths
Caption: Scenes from the island of Gotland
Crumbling church ruins, scattered around a walled medieval town. Lush green farmland, populated by herd after herd of sheep. A mix of rocky cliffs and sandy beaches, all shrouded in a misty light unlike any I’ve seen before.
This sums up my relaxing weekend in Gotland, the largest Swedish island and birthplace of the Nordic tribe of Goths. Today, in addition to its many full-time residents, Gotland also plays host to lots of Stockholm weekenders, especially during the summer months. Think the Hamptons, with more history and less attitude. And lots of sheep.
After six weeks in Stockholm, I was itching to see some of the Swedish countryside, so I booked a seat on the comfy three-hour ferry that shuttles passengers away to Sweden’s version of a summer paradise. Arriving Friday evening, I checked into a small inn in the mediveal town of Visby, had a solo dinner, and got to bed fairly early.
On Saturday, I met up with a coworker and her family, and had both lunch and dinner at the house they recently bought. Catharin and her husband Fredrik were great and so hospitable, and they spent the entire day driving me around the island, which is best explored by car or bike. We were at once in the country and near the sea, which meant that the air had its own unique and refreshing smell—and a cool breeze was constantly blowing.
On Sunday, I wondered around the town of Visby, which really is like some sort of fairy tale village. I visited all the historic ruin sights—there are more than ten—and also did a complete walk around the city’s wall, built to keep out invaders. The day was perfect—sunny and warm, with plenty of breeze but not a bit of rain. When the ferry left that evening, I felt utterly relaxed and so fortunate that I had a chance to see this incredible slice of Swedish life and history.