After two days of sailing from Turku to Visby (our longest non-stop trip yet!), we spent four days ashore. Here are some of the memories from our Gotland visit.
1. Walking around in Visby
Just walking around in the old city was quite magical! We did that quite a lot. The children did it on their own as well, and there was a nice park with its own playground just a short (and relatively safe) walk from the harbor.
One afternoon Little L came back from the park with M, and she looked really excited. “We got a new friend and she was speaking only Swedish to us!” she said. “And I understood what she said!” she continued, her eyes wide with joy.
2. The Animal Farm
On our second day, we rented a car (minibus, rather) from a local car rental company called Frendo.
Charlotte and the children are all very in love with animals, so as a surprise (I’m in love with surprising people) I took them to Gotland’s Zoo (Gotlands Djurpark). They absolutely adored it! Hooray!
3. The Home of Pippi Longstocking
On the way back from the animal farm, O and M noticed the sign to “Villa Villekulla”, the home of Pippi Longstocking.
“Oh, can we go there? Please, can we?” all the children shouted.
And we did. Not straight away, because it was getting late, but a couple of days later.
Kneipbyn was actually much more than the home of Pippi Longstocking. It was a sweet little amusement park with quite a few rides and other experiences for the children to enjoy. Pippi’s home was my favorite place, though. It was nicely put together!
4. The Really Scary Cliff
When we sailed into Visby, we had seen this huge cliff rising up over the water, further south a bit. After some googling, it turned out it was a popular place to visit, so we thought we’d go as well.
It was amazing! It’s called Högklint and you can drive right up to it.
“No! Don’t run!”
“No! Don’t go so near to the edge!”
“Come back here!”
The moment of pure excitement, of experiencing the incredible scenery, this was only disturbed by the utter horror of having four children run wildly around a place where the step after the next step was fifty meters straight down.
5. Aliens in the Grass
We were out quite late in the evening, walking Aiko in our favorite park. Suddenly we heard this really strange sound coming from somewhere near.
“What … on earth … is that?” Charlotte said, looking totally bewildered.
“It’s not of this earth,” I said. “I mean, I never heard anything like that. It has to be alien,” I concluded.
We localized the source of the sound, sort of, to some high grass.
“It’s moving!” Charlotte shouted.
It really was. Something was moving there. And then the weird sounds again!
After several long minutes of trying to figure it out, we suddenly heard the same sound from another direction, behind us. I quickly turned around trying to get a glimpse of where it came from.
And then I saw it. “It’s a hedgehog!”
How weird. Neither of us had heard any hedgehog sounds like that. And we didn’t find anything like it on youtube either.
So, myth plausible! There are aliens walking among us, every day, and they’ve apparently come in the form of Gotlandian hedgehogs.
6. Windy Visby
On a slightly more sailing related note, it was really windy during our stay!
When we left from Finland, we had a good weather window to reach Gotland, and now that weather window had definitely closed. During the worst of it, we had a steady 30 knots (max 44 knots) blowing right into the harbor, and this made life aboard a bit more challenging than usual.
“The wind direction is pretty bad for us,” shouted one of the nice persons working at the marina, now driving around in a dinghy to check the situation. “Are you ok? Need any help?” he shouted.
“Yes! So far.. all ok,” I shouted back.
“Good! But just call if you need help with anything!”
It felt good to know.
During the worst night, it felt just like being out on the sea, sailing in rough weather. The boat was rocking around in all possible directions, and frequently stopping quite violently at the pull of the mooring lines. I had rigged double mooring lines with fenders as shock absorbers, and that helped a lot, but not quite enough.
7. Europe’s Biggest Ice Cream Shop
Right next to the harbor was a really cool (and huge!) ice cream bar called Glassmagasinet. It was our last evening on Visby before sailing onwards, and to celebrate and give thanks (to each other and our new experiences), we had a modest ice cream fest together.
“What did you like the most?”
O: “The park and the playground, and looking at the Destination Gotland ferries!”
J: “That I got a new friend when we were playing in the park.” (He had met a Swedish boy in the park. I didn’t know this before writing this, but I was really happy to hear it.)
M: “Pippi Longstocking’s house. AND the playground!”
Little L: “Everything. I liked everything the most!”