Live the ex­pe­ri­ence

The is­land of Got­land, Swe­den

Milk Magazine (English) - - CONTENTS -

Es­cape the crowded beaches down South and try a Scan­di­na­vian road trip with the fam­ily. In the Baltic Sea, the Swedish is­land of Got­land of­fers a com­plete change of scene and a milder cli­mate.

Es­cape the crowded beaches down South and try a Scan­di­na­vian road trip with the fam­ily. In the Baltic Sea, the Swedish is­land of Got­land of­fers a com­plete change of scene and one of the sun­ni­est cli­mates in the coun­try.

It’s only a 45-minute flight from the Swedish main­land to Got­land, and yet, on Fårö, its tiny north­ern­most is­land, it feels like the end of the world. The light is rak­ing, quasi-su­per­nat­u­ral. On the beach at Lang­ham­mars, the lime­stone mono­liths ( rauks) cre­ate a jagged, or­ganic land­scape and the same haunt­ing at­mos­phere found in films by Ing­mar Bergman, who shot sev­eral of his mas­ter­pieces here.

The ferry’s foghorn blasts out, an­nounc­ing its de­par­ture from the port of Nynäshamn, south of Stock­holm. Tak­ing the boat in­stead of the plane is more eco­nom­i­cal and much more fun for the chil­dren. The three-hour cross­ing starts in the restau­rant; we join the im­pec­ca­ble queue formed by the Swedes, wait­ing in or­derly fash­ion for their Got­land meat­balls and cran­berry sauce. Down in the hold, our cam­per is chock-full of fam­ily­size tent, sleep­ing bags, cook­ware and note­books ready to be filled with mem­o­ries.

We dock at Visby. Founded in the year 897, the “city of roses and ruins” is en­cir­cled by tow­ers and a 3.5-kilo­me­tre-long wall now listed as a UN­ESCO World Her­itage Site. The kids race down the nar­row lanes search­ing for me­dieval fea­tures. After stop­ping for a cof­fee and a saf­franspannkaka (i.e. a saf­fron and cream pan­cake), an is­land spe­cial­ity, we head for the botan­i­cal gar­dens, where the fra­grance of roses, mul­ber­ries, figs and mag­no­lias, all in blos­som, fills the evening air.

Wild camp­ing, night one: in Got­land, as all over Swe­den, peo­ple are al­lowed to camp for 24 hours on some­body’s land, in the coun­try­side or on the beach (as long as there is no warn­ing sign for­bid­ding it). Since many of the sites cho­sen are na­ture re­serves, re­spect for the en­vi­ron­ment is im­por­tant. Well-kept com­post­ing toi­lets are of­ten found, which makes the whole camp­ing ex­pe­ri­ence eas­ier.

The road south re­sem­bles the back­drop to a Scan­di­na­vian fairy tale. Lit­tle wooden houses grad­u­ally turn into larger and larger, more and more beau­ti­ful farms. Fields cov­ered in wild flow­ers are dot­ted with black sheep and wind­mills. Driv­ing north along the east­ern side of the is­land, we some­times see signs with the word Lop­pis on them. It’s worth stop­ping, be­cause it means some­one is hav­ing a car boot sale and who knows what bar­gains can be found? Through the van win­dows, the ter­rain then be­comes paler, drier and rock­ier. We pass though in­dus­trial towns with lime­stone quar­ries and lu­nar land­scapes.

A ferry takes us to the is­land of Fårö. Along the road lead­ing north, we stop for the chil­dren to play be­tween fish­er­men’s houses and skele­tons of wooden ships. Sud­denly, a daz­zling white sandy beach, scat­tered with shells and lined with clumps of trees, stretches out for miles be­fore our eyes. The wa­ter is turquoise. Got­land owes its qu­a­sitrop­i­cal land­scape to his­tory: mil­lions of years ago, the is­land rubbed shoul­ders with the equa­tor. The hunt for fos­sils is on: sharp eyes are sure to find some pretty ones. Ready to fol­low our trail?

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