The island of cheerful sheep, part 1

Gotland is an island in the Baltic sea, which belongs to Sweden, but has nothing in common with it in terms of landscapes and vegetation. Sometimes there is no need to travel far away to see something beautiful and unusual. Gotland is a good example of such a destination.

It’s very easy to reach Gotland. There are regular ferries from Nynäshamn (one hour from Stockholm by train) and Oskarshamn (a town halfway from Stockholm to Malmö). My choice was obviously Nynäshamn, but I decided to cycle there instead of taking train.

This was in the beginning of September. The weather was already chilly, but still with a sufficient amount of sunny days.

Soon central Stockholm ended and I cycled through remote districts. Some of them were almost 100% identical to their counterparts in Helsinki. I used to live in a similar house and in September there used to be similar-looking rowan-trees around.

Stockholm is much bigger than Helsinki however. This feels especially in the city center, but sometimes also outside of it. There are wider and noisier highways in Stockholm and the city is trying to cope with excessive traffic. Stockholm has already implemented congestion fees, this is definitely a good start. But nothing will dramatically change while city districts look like this. This is Farsta, the last big district on my way.

After I crossed the bridge, I suddenly found myself in the countryside.

I was very excited to be in the forest on Monday (instead of sitting in the air-conditioned office). I already spent a lovely weekend in Stockholm, but still I felt that my vacation is only beginning. So much amazing things ahead!

The forest ended and I saw some nice cottages and fields. It didn’t take much time however to be in a forest again.

I was so happy when I found this small forest lake, smill warm and protected well from the wind!

The name of this nature reserver is Paradiset, by the way. Does it have any relation to paradise? Rather yes :)

It would be boring to follow the official bicycle route (Nynäsleden) and I had plenty of time until the ferry, so I made a detour over forest trails.

Forest roads are not better than trails in some areas :)

Countryside roads are pretty similar to their Finnish counterparts. They are also in a good condition, some of them are quiet and enjoyable, but Swedish drivers, from my point of view, are no better than Finnish ones. I read many times on the Internet that driving culture in Sweden (and even Estonia!) is somehow better, but I can’t fully agree with that.

Good news are however that Swedish roads and drivers are no worse than Finnish. And because they are similar, they are predictable for me. I didn’t feel more of less comfort in Sweden than on a Saturday ride around Helsinki.

Old world (“fuck fuel economy”) vs new world (agile and sustainable transportation).

This is Ösmo, a small place on the way from Stockholm to Nynäshamn.

I was mentally prepared for a pizza or kebab, but what a surprise! There was some proper food in the only restaurant in Ösmo. I ordered pyttipanna.

In the afternoon it became cloudy, but the landscapes were eye candy anyway.

I arrived in Nynäshamn well before the ferry departure and decided to see what’s there in the south of the town. A small serpentine-like road (Strandvägen) attracted my attention and not in vain! There is some ascend indeed and many spots to look at the sea.

Ferry trip from Nynäshamn to Gotland takes 3 hours. There is only paid Wi-Fi on board, GSM data coverage is lost in 20 minutes after departure and voice coverage after one hour. Fortunately this was one of the precious vacations where I was without laptop, so lack of Internet connection didn’t bother me much. The restaurant on the ferry is expensive, as expected, so bring your own snacks :)

When I woke up in the morning, I heard waves. The view from the window was 100% as on the :)

I went down to greet the sea.

So much energy! Just love it.

Visby, the capital of Gotland, is definitely not in the list of most cycling places in Sweden, but some tourists and locals still can be seen on bicycle.

Good food again! A fish plate only for 75 SEK (around 8 €). The food in restaurants is rather expensive in Sweden, but look for dagens menu (day menu), usually available from 11 to 14. I was especially happy about the fact that even budget restaurants in Gotland have some other food than pizza and burgers.

The historical part of Visby is small in principle, but great for such a small town. It’s also well-preserved (together with the medieval wall). But I’ll tell about it in the second part. Now let’s take a brief look at the new Visby and go further.

It’s strange for me how Gotland advertises itself as a “cycling paradise”, because the amount of motor traffic is just horrible in relation to the size of the island. I avoided major roads of course, but even the small Dalhemsvägen (I 631) is a kind of the road where it’s comfortable alone, but I wouldn’t go there with less cycling friends or with kids. Things are getting better however the more away from Visby you go. I used some off-road shortcuts as well, so the traffic didn’t bother me much after this first day.

In a small nature reserve named Allkvie änge. Forget rocks and huge pine forests in Gotland! The variety of trees and shrubs is bigger there and the soil is different.

I can’t recognize this berry, but it looks too good to be edible (and delicious).

There are no blueberries and lingonberries in Gotland. Blackberries and dewberries grow there instead.

It wasn’t a warm day, but the landscapes were rewarding and I cycled forward with a light heart.

Once upon a time Gotland has a far-flung railway network. This beautiful railway system fell as a victim of automobilisation. Now there are no “real” railways in Gotland anymore, only one museum line from Hesselby to Roma.

I knew that the railway museum will be closed on Tuesday, but I hoped to take a look at least at the old station and its surroundings. I had luck, because the men working in the shed noticed and let me in.

Third class in fifties was more comfortable in Gotland than second class nowadays in some countries.

A kettle. The essential tool for a train crew! :)

There is a small, but worth visiting leisure area in the vicinity of railway museum. Tho trails follow both banks of Gothemsån creek and are united by a bridge.

The rain started and I decided to have a lunch, waiting for the rain to stop.

This time I traveled without camping gear, but I didn’t miss my gas stove much. There were restaurants almost in any place where I needed them and the food from local shops was original and delicious.

The rain always comes to an end. I didn’t feel myself particularly warm during the afternoon, but quietness around and stunning landscapes proved that it was a good decision to come to Gotland in September, when the tourist season is over.

This is something you don’t expect to see in a tiny village somewhere at the end of the world – a climbing wall :)

And after all adventures, I spent a night on a farm. What a fantastic experience!

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Part 2 is coming soon :)

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