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Published: October 27th 2010
We were really looking forward to our visit to Visby, Sweden - on the island of Gotland. But unfortunately, the day dawned pretty horrendous…. We had booked horse riding out in the Gotland countryside but as the hours passed we realised this was no longer going to be do-able. The rain was coming down and the winds were pretty rough - so rough that we were supposed to tender in from the ship to the port but it was a slow process - the waves were pretty huge and the tender boats were struggling to get anyone ashore. Arriving about two hours later than expected on to the shore, we battled the weather to find the guy we’d booked to take us horse riding, we’d found his farm on the internet prior to our trip. We genuinely thought, with no way of contacting us and the weather as it was that he’d be long gone. But patiently sitting in his red truck we found him waiting at the port to tell us he was sorry, it just wasn’t going to be possible. We were a bit down-hearted as we’d really be looking forward to it - but were really impressed he’d
waited for us and were already prepared for the fact that we’d be unlikely to go - what can you do when weather conspires against you?! If we are ever in that ‘neck of the woods’ again we’d definitely look him back up! So anyway, off we headed to explore the small medieval town of Visby.
Visby is a walled town with medieval ruins, narrow cobblestone streets, a wide range of cosy restaurants and pubs, markets and of course the preserved town wall itself: Visby was once a Hanseatic town in Sweden. The Hansa ruled Gotland for hundreds of years during the Medieval Times. The town of Visby was chosen by UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites in 1995.
The Visby wall, the stone wall that stretches for more than 2 full miles around the city of Visby, is officially named Ringmuren, and is the most prominent of a collection of medieval attractions in the city, which has a population of about 22,000. The Visby Sweden Cathedral, built in the 12th century, is located within the walls and was actually built before the great wall, which was built in the 13th century. Although power over Gotland
changed hands numerous times, the island has remained under Swedish rule since the middle of the 17th century. There are many buildings from these older centuries that can still be seen.
There were lots of medieval historical spots, including the Maiden’s Tower, marking the spot where a peasant girl was buried alive for helping a Danish King during a revolution, and Powder Tower, which is the oldest fortification tower in Visby. We wandered through the rain, trying to soak up as much of a sense of the city as we could - more than the water we were soaking up anyway! We weren’t always successful, it really was a mud day! But the charm of Visby was still apparent and we sheltered in the impressive cathedral for a while and wandered the ruins of several old sites, and stopped off for drinks in a pub.
Before long we thought it was impossible to soak up any more water and headed back ……… to the port…… to find that the tenders were temporarily cancelled between port and ship and stood for almost 2 hours in the wind driven rain with several hundred others from our ship. It was pretty
insane, more insane was when we finally got on a boat back to the ship, I don’t think I’ve ever been in waves that big, they were far bigger than the tenders, and we were often in troughs where all we could see was wall to wall water! Occassionally we’d come to the top of a wave and see the ship ahead and there’d be an enormous cheer from the 50-odd passengers on our boat. We were probably out in that water for about 40 minutes waiting for a lull to try and pull alongside the ship. But hey, these crazy experiences, that’s what travelling is all about right?! And maybe one day we can make another trip back to the Gotlands!
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