Gotland: Days 6 & 7 – Visby to Tallinn

Day 6

No travel

Date: 17th July 2010

We had originally planned to go back to Stockholm on this day, but all of the ferries were booked out. Rather than go for standby again we opted to book tickets for the 00:50 ferry at night. This gave us a very long day in Visby. Our plans of spending the day exploring the old town were foiled by a very heavy thunderstorm, which included a blackout from around lunchtime. We couldn’t walk around visiting the sites, and even our usual fallback when bored travelling, the movies, was out of action due to the blackout. Instead our day was spent hiding from the rain in bars and eating salad (the restaurants couldn’t cook anything). The best beer I’ve had in Sweden was from the local brewery and was stocked in all the bars, so it wasn’t all bad. Rather than being an enjoyable and relaxing day it was more of an uncomfortable and boring one. However candle lit dinners (and candle lit trips to the toilet) are always a memorable experience.

Day 7

Ferry Visby – Nynäshamn
Bus Nynäshamn – Stockholm
Ferry Stockholm – Tallinn

Date: 18th July 2010

None of the websites indicated that you could put a bike on the ferry bus to Stockholm, but apparently you can if you’re lucky, and we were. There were two buses picking up passengers from the ferry to Nynäshamn. The first told us definitely no bikes, but the second told us there might be space if we waited. After us, five other cyclists arrived to catch the bus as well. Our driver chatted to the other and between them they managed to fit us all on. I think it’s much like catching a plane on standby – if the driver likes you and you’re a bit lucky you’ll get on. Smile, be courteous, and be there as early as possible.

So we arrived in Stockholm at about 6:00 am and had all day to kill. We started by dropping our gear off in the train station lockers then having a sleep in a park somewhere. After that it was a full day of Stockholm site seeing which was easily filled up. It was actually difficult to find time to fit in a few drinks. The outdoor museum and zoo Skansen was worthwhile and could easily occupy most of a day. We also happened upon a dog show where I met my first Australian sheep dog. They’re a gorgeous breed which look like a mix between kelpie, border collie, and blue cattle dog.

Stockholm is an excellent city for biking around. It has bike paths everywhere which are well sign posted and easy to follow, but it’s not crazy busy like Amsterdam. A lot of design effort has gone into making it a safe and easy place for cyclists. There were enough hills to make me glad to have gears, mostly around Gamlastan (the old town), but not enough to be bothersome.

Again we went for the separate cabins option on the ferry on the way home, but this time we were both in rooms with other people. I had a bunch of Russian dudes who weren’t bothersome in nature, but were in body odour. I stayed up playing blackjack and hanging around the various bars until I thought my tiredness would overcome the bad smell of the cabin. Still, the ferries between Tallinn and Stockholm have a reasonable enough range of facilities to be comfortable, and after combining that with a sunset over the islands I’d recommend taking it over flying if you can spare the time.

We found Gotland a very easy cycling destination. The ride from Stockholm takes about a day, and once there you are only limited by how many hours of riding you’re willing to do. It’s flat and well serviced by small villages, camp grounds, and B&Bs. The views aren’t spectacular, but it’s very relaxing place for a ride.

Gotland: Day 5 – Visby

Cycled Slite to Visby

Date: 16th July 2010

Millerine and I share a birthday, and this was it. We awoke fairly early and had completed the 35km to Visby by mid morning. We left the Gotlandsleden and took the shortest route along one of the main roads. It still felt quite safe, and there were no hills even though we passed through the middle of the island.

Outside the Visby town wall

Outside the Visby town wall

Visby is a very attractive city with a well preserved city wall around the old town and a bunch of church ruins. St Katrins is possibly the most beautiful ruin I’ve seen.

The ruins of St Katrins in Visby

The ruins of St Katrins in Visby

The weather was hot and sunny, and perfect for walking around exploring (with frequent bar stops). We were also fans of the glassworks. Visby is definitely a tourist town, but not incredibly overcrowded and still very pleasant.

View of Visby from the park

View of Visby from the park

Gotland: Day 4 – The Northern Coast

Cycled Stenkyrka to Slite

Date: 15th July 2010

The first part of the ride was spent searching for breakfast, which is pretty difficult when most places seem to open at midday. I can be very grumpy when I go without breakfast, and this morning was a struggle. I highly recommend BYO breakfast unless you’re staying somewhere with breakfast supplied. Supermarkets and even stores are hard to come by outside of the bigger towns, so it’s best to carry some emergency supplies. We eventually came across a cafe that was open and had some incredibly satisfying sandwiches. It seems the Swedes enjoy their sandwiches and don’t care much for a normal heavy breakfast of porridge or eggs and bacon. However they all seem to provide the most excellent tea.

We continued to follow the Gotlandsleden which turned off the main road pretty early and went along a dirt road following the coastline. It wasn’t a terrible road by any standards, but made for slow going compared to the asphalt. Some sections were potholed, but it was generally OK. Along the way we came across a restaurant/B&B with a fantastic beach front, and an Australian waitress who was somewhat excited to see a fellow citizen. We also saw quite a few small snakes. There seem to be a lot of them out on the road sunbaking and turning themselves into roadkill.

Snake on the road in Gotland

Snake on the road

It was another fairly hot day, so our lunch break lasted around four hours. We settled into a roadside cafe and had the tallest hamburger I’ve ever seen and a bottle of wine, then we had a long sleep beside the sea at Hallshuk, near some fishing huts.

Hallshuk fishing huts

Fishing huts near where we napped in Hallshuk

We finished the ride into Slite pretty quickly. Slite is a town entirely based around the cement industry and has the dead feel of a mining town. It does have a campsite, restaurant and supermarket though, so suited us just fine.

Slite cement plant

Slite cement plant