This past weekend, my host family and I took on another adventure to another beautiful part of Sweden, Gotland. Gotland is an island of Sweden that is a popular tourist attraction in the summer for its little shops, shore, and raukar. We were invited for the birthday party of my host aunt, Pia, and decided to take time to explore the city of Visby and a little of the island while we were there.
After school on Friday, I went downtown to pick up some money and then returned home to finish packing and work on a little online school before heading to the boat. We drove onto the ferry and rode it for a few hours, snacking on candy along the way, before arriving to Gotland, in the city of Visby, around 11. We found our way to the hotel and got some rest for a long day ahead of us.
On Saturday morning we woke up and headed downstairs to a big Swedish breakfast buffet. It included many different types of bread with many cheese, vegetables,and jams to add on top. You could have cereal, yogurt, danishes, eggs, fish, or fruit as well and whatever else your heart desired. It also had juice, water, milk, tea and coffee for drinking. We spent a while eating the yummy food and chatting about what to do in Visby before going back to our rooms to finish getting ready.
We started out by walking along the edge of the city along the wall that surrounds Visby in beautiful weather. The wall was built many years ago to protect the city from others who wanted to attack and raid the prosperous town.
We went in a few shops, my favorite being the one where everything was made out of sheep’s fur. Sheep are a big part of Gotland and there are sheep statues all over the city. I really don’t think you could go two minutes without seeing one, so naturally I had to get a picture on one before leaving!
Visby reminded me a lot of Key West with colorful houses, tons of shops, and beautiful water, just a little colder. We walked to the church which stands in the center of Visby and looked inside at the beautiful architecture.
On our way there, we stumbled upon an incredible view of the city which looked over the tops of all the red roofs and led out to the sea. This time of year was just right to go to Gotland.
In the summer, it is normally packed with people due to the great weather but now, even though the weather was nice, there weren’t a lot of people and it was like having the entire island to ourselves. Craving some sweets and tea, we found a cute little cafe to have some fika and relax. Close to our cafe was a blooming garden with lots of green plants and colorful flowers that is special to Gotland. In Sweden, and probably many other places besides Florida, gardens die in the winter and come back to life in the summer.
This particular garden, however, sits in a perfect place with a good wind pattern and location so that all year round the garden is green and blooming, something very unique in Sweden.
Afterwards, we continued to walk around the city and browse through the shops on the main shopping street. We got lunch at a cute little restaurant named “Ett Rum För Resande,” or “A Room for Travelers,” (which I felt was quite fitting).
We then back to the hotel to get ready for Pia’s party.
After a short drive, we arrived at the party and enjoyed a fun night full of games, chatting, great food, some toasts in Swedish that I assume were very nice, and lots of dancing.
While we were outside, there was a beautiful sunset over the lake.
We left the party quite late and by the time we got back to our hotel I was exhausted and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Sunday morning we woke up and and another huge breakfast and decided to spend the day seeing what Gotland is most famous for, Raukar. Long ago, these huge limestone rocks were once part of reefs underwater, but now they stand tall as big, beautiful, and unique icons of Gotland.
We drove about an hour to see the nearest Raukar to Visby, including the biggest rock on the Island when measured from sea level.
We met up with one of my host mom’s friends who was very educated in Raukar and she told me all about them. We spent some time climbing on top of the rocks, admiring the view, and making our way to the biggest rock before taking a nice fika at a picnic table near by.
We then got back in the car and returned to Visby so we would not miss our boat.
We had a lunch of fish and chips on land before boarding, this time into our own personal room which was very small and had two couches, a table and a bathroom. It was very nice to be by ourselves and in a quiet room where we could rest and sleep on the ride back. I awoke to the 15 minute warning ringing through the boat so we headed down to our car and were on our way home in no time. Since all of us were pretty tired, we didn’t feel like making dinner and instead had a typical Swedish snack of sandwiches and tea before heading off to bed.
All in all, it was an amazing weekend filled with incredible views, tons of laughs, and many memories. If you are ever in Sweden, or are thinking of going on exchange to Sweden, I would wholeheartedly recommend going to Gotland at some point. Here are some pictures I took while walking around the city.
Your temporary Swede,