Fårö – more to see than just sheep

On our last whole day on Gotland we decided to head out to Fårö, which is a separate island north of Gotland. To get to Fårö from Gotland you take a car ferry across the narrow Fårö strait.

Our adventure on Fårö started with a visit to the Fårö church and its cemetery where Ingmar Bergman is buried. Bergman lived and died on Fårö and several of his films were filmed there. We also stopped by the Bergman Center but decided we were not big enough fans to pay SEK 100 for entrance. Our next stop was the Sudersand Resort and its lovely beach. The weather wasn’t warm enough to warrant a swim, but we did dip our toes in the sea.

Fårö church from the early 14th century
Inside Fårö church, the ship reflects an old Nordic tradition of giving offerings for the protection of loved ones at sea and is a reminder of those lost at sea.
The altar of Fårö church
This lovely lantern display is a cremation memorial
At the beach
Sudersand beach

Next, we headed to the Fårö lighthouse. The lighthouse was constructed in 1847 and it is 30 meters high. The lighthouse became remote-controlled in 1976 and is owned by the Swedish Maritime Administration. As the lighthouse is still active you cannot visit the inside. It started to get hungry out, so we drove to Crêperie Tati på Kutens Bensin. This was a very confusing place and well worth seeing. Walking from the parking lot to the creperie you will pass several old rusty cars, buses, mopeds, etc. It all looks more like a junkyard than a restaurant. However, when we saw the line to get food, we decided to find another place for lunch. So, we drove back to Sudersand and Carlssons Restaurang & Vedugnspizzeria and shared a decent pizza. Our final stop on Fårö was Langhammars rauk (sea stack) field. This area has around 50 rauks with the highest being over 8 meters tall. The landscape here is very rugged. Heading back to catch the ferry to Gotland we came across a herd of sheep leisurely crossing the road.

Fårö lighthouse
The waters near the lighthouse are really rocky so the lighthouse is certainly needed.
Langhammars rauk field
The main herd has already crossed the road

Driving back to Visby we stopped at a few churches of which there is no lack on Gotland. There are nearly 100 medieval churches that are still in use on Gotland. The following morning, we said bye-bye to Gotland and headed to Stockholm for a couple of days. A post will follow on Stockholm.

Altar in Bunge church
Fresco in Bunge church from around 1400
Tingstäde church from the 13th century
Old gate at Tingstäde church from the 14th century
Inside Tingstäde church
Beautiful ceiling fresco in Tingstäde church
Wall fresco in Tingstäde church
Time to say goodbye to Gotland and Visby

Exploring northern Gotland

On Wednesday we woke up to another beautiful morning on Gotland and after breakfast we jumped in the car and headed out to explore the areas north from Visby. First, we headed to see the biggest rauk on Gotland, Jungfrun. A rauk is a column-like landform in Sweden and Norway, often equivalent to a stack. The limestone rauks of Gotland in the Baltic Sea are among the best-known examples. In the same area (Lickershamn) where the rauk was located we also found some lovely fishing huts. Next, we visited Roma kloster och kungsgård (Roma abbey and crown estate manor). The ruined Cistercian abbey and a crown estate are located in Roma. The abbey was built in the 12th century. After the Reformation, its lands were confiscated by the Crown and subsequently turned into a crown estate. Apart from the ruined church, the estate includes a manor house built in 1733 for the crown estate.

There she is, Jungfrun
Jungfrun from up top
Another angle
I clearly need lens hood for taking pictures against the light
Fishing huts

Our next stop was the Dunbobi general store museum. This general store located in Dalhem was built in 1903 and in 1922 it was extended with living quarters. The store was operational until 1974 and the last storekeeper moved out of the house in 1983. The building was renovated in 1986 to1988 and has since then been used as an apartment and museum. In 1986, the building became a protected building. The museum depicts what a general store in the countryside was like in the early 1900s. The museum is privately owned and when we visited, the old gentleman that owns the place was very enthusiastic to present some of the things the museum houses. The museum is filled to the brims with all things imaginable, and well worth a visit.

Dunbodi general store museum

Our final stop for the afternoon was Lummelundagrottan. This cave hadn’t been explored more than 130 feet beyond the cave entrance until 1948, when three schoolboys discovered another entrance to what turned out to be one of the longest caverns in Sweden. The cave is a marvel of nature with magical halls, stunning stalactites and fossils. The explored part of the cave is around 4.5 km long, and exploration further into the cave continues. Before venturing into the cave, we had a late lunch at the café on the grounds. The cave was well worth a visit and the stories about the boys that first found and explored the cave were fascinating. While driving around the island we also visited a small delicacy store, Gotlands Delikatesser. It is a tiny farm shop with no actual service, you simply go in, collect what you want and pay for the products either in cash or with Swish mobile payment. I bought ramsons pesto, almond pesto, ramsons vinaigrette, ramsons salt and dewberry jam.

The entrance the boys used to get into the cave

After the cave visit, we headed back to the hotel to relax and plan for dinner and the next day’s adventures.

Visby – a cozy little town chock-full of history

As I mentioned in a previous post, this summer we headed to Sweden and Gotland. First, we drove to Turku and hopped on the evening ferry to Stockholm. Viking Grace and Oscar á la carte offered a tasty dinner and a good night’s sleep. The ferry arrived in Stockholm early on Monday morning and we steered our car towards Nynäshamn, where we would catch the ferry to Gotland. We had several hours to kill in Nynäshamn before our scheduled departure, so we walked around the town center, drove along the coast line and had a lovely lunch in the harbor at Nynäs Rökeri. The ferry trip with Destination Gotland’s ferry to Visby took 3½ hours. Once we arrived in Visby we checked into our hotel, Clarion Hotel Wisby. I had originally booked a standard double room but later decided to upgrade to a superior double as the standard room seemed very small, and once I saw our room, I was happy I made the upgrade. The hotel is situated in a building where a hotel has been run within these walls since the mid-1800s and includes a carefully restored medieval alley and columns dating back to the 1200s. We stayed in the new part of the hotel opened in 2013 and had a lovely sea view. I must give props to the reception staff for thinking on their feet. When I was checking in and asked about parking, I was told that there was no parking available as it needed to be pre-booked. I had reserved parking and actually had an e-mail exchange about this with the hotel, but there had been some mix-up and they had not reserved a spot for us. This was solved by giving us the space of the hotel manager who was on vacation. After getting settled we headed out to have a first look at Visby and find a place for dinner. As most restaurants were full of people, we ended up at a pub called Black Sheep Arms. The pub was nice enough, but the food was nothing special.

Starter of Scallops, apple and fennel in Oscar á la carte
Main: Smoked and confited fjord salmon with new potatoes,
lemon hollandaise and seasonal vegetables
Our hotel, Clarion Wisby
Hotel lobby
One of two breakfast rooms
Our room
Sunset from our hotel room

The Hanseatic city of Visby is the best-preserved medieval city in Scandinavia and since 1995, it has been on the UNESCO World Heritage site list. The earliest history of Visby is uncertain, but it is known to have been a center of merchandise around 900 AD. It was inhabited as early as the Stone Age, probably because of the access to fresh water and a natural harbor. In 1361, Gotland was conquered by Valdemar IV of Denmark. In 1409, the island of Gotland was sold to Queen Margaret of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. As of 1470, the Hanseatic League rescinded Visby’s status as a Hanseatic town. Gotland was again taken into Sweden’s possession in 1645, by the Treaty of Brömsebro, after 300 years of Danish rule.

The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel, which was good and of normal Scandinavian standard. Then, we headed out to explore the town. We decided to start by walking along the old town wall which is 3.4 km long and encircles the town center. The work on the ring wall was likely begun in the 12th century. Around 1300, it was rebuilt to reach its current height, acquiring the characteristic towers, although some towers were not constructed until the 15th century. While walking along the wall, we saw numerous old houses. The walk took us a few hours and then we explored some of the shops. After lunch we continued exploring the town (I will make a separate post about the food we ate). Eventually we returned to the hotel to put our feet up for a while and freshen up for dinner. Around dinner time we headed back out and explored some of the church ruins in Visby to work up an appetite. After dinner we retuned to the hotel to plan our adventures for the next day. Just as we entered the hotel it started pouring down, so we had excellent timing. As Visby is quite small, one day was plenty for exploring the town, so the following day we decided to head to other parts of Gotland.

View from one of the towers in the town wall
The wall has several hollow towers
A recently tarred old house
The barrier blocks are in the from of sheep
Visby Cathedral was officially opened in 1225
Inside Visby Cathedral
Gate to the cathedral
One of several church ruins
Another church ruin
Sunset from our room after a rain storm