Every single time I visit Visby, located on the Swedish island Gotland, it fills me up with harmony. Coming from a busy big city such as Stockholm, or any big city for that matter, this town gives you a feeling of relaxation and distance from the busy life. Stress is not a state of mind here. Its contrasts to the mainland of Sweden makes it feel like a different country.
Getting here from the Swedish mainland takes approximately three hours by boat, and already while aboard you get a taste of the Visby vibe. Islanders from Gotland speak with a significantly different accent compared to people from the rest of Sweden, which sounds so warm and friendly you wish you could speak they way they do. You know you will be in for a treat when you arrive too, since this is the only Swedish city of ancient heritage as well as the filming site for the Pippi Longstocking movies.
When arriving in the harbour of Gotland, it’s only a short walk to the city centre. Gotland is barely 170 kilometres long and 50 kilometres wide, with a population of 58 000 people. Walking around the city is an experience in itself, there are cobblestone streets throughout the whole city and roses cover the single-floored stone houses, along with the landscape plant, ivy. A grand bailey goes around the main city parts, which you can tell used to serve as main protection and defence in wars. There are four gates for entering and exiting the city, and these are popular spots where you usually see tourists taking pictures trying to do some kind of Viking pose.
It makes you fantasize about the warriors and people from the Middle Ages crossing the streets here, and the story about the woman trapped in the tower only enhances that fantasy.
Gotland was attacked by the Danish king in 1361. According to the story passed on by word of mouth, a lover of the Danish king opened one of the gates for him and his army to storm into the city and try to conquer it. Afterwards, the ruler of Gotland punished her by mortaring her in one of the towers next to the gate she opened. She was trapped there for the rest of her life, and her skeleton is supposedly still in there.
After discovering the city and its heritage, I recommend having a cold drink at the harbour while you watch the sunset. Feel the sea breeze in your face and just enjoy life. Only writing about it gives me the chills. Wake up the next day and discover it all over again. It will make you feel just as peaceful, or even more, as the previous day.
People from Visby feel like a different kind of people as well. You instantly feel like they’re your friends when you start talking to them. Their major difference with people from Stockholm is that they’re relaxed and don’t rush everywhere. It’s as if stress is almost unfamiliar to them.
All in all, Visby and its people makes you never want to go back to the real world.
Visby is a 3hr boat ride from the Swedish harbour Nynäshamn and prices range from 300-700 SEK one way. It’s approximately a 1hr flight from various coastal locations and tickets cost from 500-2000 SEK. A hundred SEK equals 17 Australian dollars. Tickets and travel packages can be booked at + 46 498-27 13 00 or http://www.destinationgotland.se/.
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