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

10 + 1 travel quotes that reflect me

I decided to delve into the myriad of travel quotes you can find online and make a list of the quotes that best describe my own attitude towards and thoughts about travel. I used Canva to make the pictures.

To me, this describes travel to a T. When you get a broader understanding of the world, you realize that you are merely a small part of the world. You learn that you cannot expect the rest of the world to adapt to your expectations, but when you adapt to the world, you become more understanding.

Just like a ship is built to travel the oceans, humans are, in my opinion, built to travel the world.

I have never had a list of places I have to see or the goal to visit all continents, for example. I do love discovering new places but when a passionate affair in one location turns into a deep love, I’m more than happy to return to that place several times.

To me, this is the quintessential reason for people to travel. If you have never traveled, your view is extremely restricted. How can you even imagine what all exists in the world if you spend all your life in the same place?

I feel travel is one way to become a child again – to see everything with new eyes. Travel can truly make everyday things seem like wonders and help you enjoy the littlest things in life.

When I first started traveling, I used to make detailed lists of what to see and do on a trip. I still research my destinations in advance and make a rough itinerary, but experience has thought me to leave time and space for surprises. Nothing brings me more joy than getting lost and finding new marvelous places and stunning gems.

This, in a way, ties into the previous quote. It also reminds me that even the best laid plans are always subject to change. If you set off on a trip with a detailed plan and you expect that plan to materialize as is, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

I have a difficult time understanding people who travel but expect things to be the same as home. To me, the value of traveling comes from seeing and experiencing new things, like the local food culture. I would never go abroad and look for a Finnish community, a Finnish restaurant or bar, etc.

As an avid reader and traveler, I simply love this quote. To me it seems that people who do not travel are missing out on the story of life.

I know that one lifetime is not enough to experience everything the world has to offer, but I’d rather keep trying than stop and remain stagnate. To me, it is also a comfort to know that there will always be new places to see.

This requires no explanation, it simply perfectly sums up what has happened to me.

Do you have a favorite travel quote? If so, I would love to hear it.