Before I begin my Swedish series, first let me preface by saying Sweden is extremely expensive. So, in the interest of being cheap, we splurged on a few items: a rental car, a flight to the island of Gotland, and a couple of pricier hotels when there were no other options. Other than that, it’s still entirely possible to enjoy Sweden without spending all your Kronos.
As soon as we landed in Stockholm Arlanda, we routed to Bromma Airport (which, by the way, we thought we could access directly on the airport shuttle, but in summer that particular shuttle does not go between airports. You have to go to the city center, and then pick up another bus to Bromma. I was given misleading info when I booked that flight) to catch our jet to Visby. We took Skyways there.
Visby is the main, medieval city of the island of Gotland, four hours out to sea from Stockholm. Visby is surrounded by an ancient stone wall, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a cobblestoned area with small country houses and rose vines climbing the walls. Gotland itself is a beautiful vacation spot for Swedes, but when pressed for time, we didn’t get to enjoy the beaches and rustic island of the Baltic Sea as might as liked to.
The reason we decided to make this journey was because it happened to Medieval Week there, and Swedes who partook got very, very involved with their armory and linen dresses and swordfighting. Many of the people dressed up also had multiple tattoos, piercings all over their faces, purple hair, or mohawks – so it was unclear whether this was a true Swedish pride festival or a Goth convention. At least, compared to the Renaissance Fair in the U.S., Sweden actually had a Medieval period in its history, so off we went to learn all about it.
Really, I think photos would best describe our visit, since the Medieval Week only occurs, well, once a year, so if you have plans to go to Visby you may not have the same experience that we did.
HOTEL: because of Medieval Week, nearly every hotel was booked. We lucked out with Hamnhotellet, a nice new hotel with multiple buildings right across from the ferry. It is also about a 10 minute walk along the water to the city wall, or you can rent bikes from the hotel to take around the city. TIP: Hamnhotellet’s site, in English, will charge you in euros. For a better exchange rate, book it from the Swedish site. You may need to use Google Translate to guide yourself, but the English and Swedish sites are identical as well. I saved $40 on our room with that.
FERRY: we took the ferry back, which was a rather nice trip. Because it’s a car ferry, the ride was incredibly smooth, to the point that you didn’t realize you were moving at all. They also showed a movie, “Yes Man” with Jim Carey, so we shared my earphones.
Here are some pictures… enjoy.
Below: Visby home
Below left: knight in armor. Below right: Jon is inspired by knight in armor