A Bus Tour on Gotland

with the Rheumatic's Association of Ljusdal

June 26 - 30, 2000

Early rising at four and the bus of "Buss-Pelle" stopped at six AM outside our house and let us embark. Very convenient! The long tour to Nynashamn began. More people embarked along the road, most of them in Jarvso. We are rolling through a wonderful summer landscape with wild flowers and lupines on the roadbanks, and in Nynashamn we embarked the fast ferry "Visby" which used only two hours and three quarters of an hour for the crossing to Visby town on Gotland. At five PM we were in the bus again and on the way to Ljugarn on the east coast of Gotland, a place known for the good beach. We were housed in the "Beach Pension" four nights.

The road from Visby to Ljugarn partly goes through villages and fields and partly through a low pine wood. When we came near the eastern coast sometimes the forest is nearly heath with junipers and wild roses. The churches are close on Gotland, we passed four in the fifty kilometres crossing the island and saw some at a distance too.
In the fields they are growing wheat, rye, peas, rape and hay grass. The roadsides are filled with summer flowers. The red poppies are bright, and you don't see them only at the roadsides, they are in the fields too. A few times we passed a field totally red. Blue cornflowers in the rye fields. In the dryer areas the blueweed (Echium Vulgare) is wide spread. In the pine wood the white panicles of dropwort (Filipendula vulgaris) is shining. And lots of other summer flowers are on the roadsides.From the bus window I could recognize Lathyrus Pratensis, Lotus Corniculatus, Medicago Falcata, Galium Verum, Galium Boreale, Galium Album, Silene Vulgaris, Campanula Rotundifolia and many others.
The pension is situated near the beach, that long beach which is following kilometres along the eastern coast. After dinner we went to the shore, overlooking the vast sea. We observed some people who were swimming but we thought that the sea was really too cold to go swimming this early in the season. I was botanizing on the shore field. Many different milieus in this little area, the first thing which met my eye was the remanings of the field anomone (Pulsatilla Pratensis). Their downy seed hairs you could see all over the sandy beach. That anemon is very rare in most other areas of Sweden but common here where the ground is chalky. When we came more near the wateredge the sand was covered with the grey-green straws of lyme grass (Leumus Arenarius) which has a function as a sand binding herb mixed with "saltarv" (Honckenya Peploides). On the sandy and fairly worn meadow with big bare spots of naked sand I recognized some kinds of clover(Trifolium Pratense, Trifolium Aureum and Trifolium Arvense), I observed Silene Nutans, Dianthus Deltoides, Sedum Acre, Lychnis Viscaria, Thymus Serpyllum and many other herbs. The dominating herb in big areas was the light yellow "field rattle" (Rhinanthus Minor). It is a pity that I cannot use the Swedish names which in some cases are giving the colour of that meadow.
In the shadow under the broad branches of a thickset pine I saw one plant of butterfly orchis (Plathantera bifolia) near the road.

Tuesday June 27 a day with partly overcast - an ideal day for travelling by bus. We had a nice guide who told lots about Gotland, culture and vegetation and everything which is special for this island
At first we went by the coast line from Ljugarn while she told about this place which has been a holiday resort since the last turn of the century. Many of the big bungalows we could see along this coast road were built during that time. We arrived at Vitvar an old fishing village and observed the caracteristic grey buildings with roofs av slate hidden among wild roses and dropwort enclosed by bandtun which is the Gotlandish word for fence.

Then we passed through a typical Gotlandish pine forest with small compact trees. They grow in that shape because of that they are always in the stream of the winds from the sea. They give a very hard wood, suitable for furniture e g. She told us that 45% of the area of Gotland is covered by forests, and we could confirm that during our days on this bus tour. We passed through forests as often as we passed through heaths or cultivated land.
The first stop was at Gammelgarn, one of the 97 churches on the island. There is an old defence tower. more information in English about this church.

We passed Katthammarsvik, typical holiday village nowadays but there is a manor house from the time of the chalk barons, and a fishing harbour.

Our guide told us about the flowering roadsides which are due to an intensional policy by the road authorities. The don't use salt on the roads to avoid slipperiness in the winter. They do the scything on the roadside with consideration to the time of blossom of the flowers. They try to do this without losing any traffic security.
We passed through forests and flat rock grounds. Between the the flat rocks the ground was pink of nagelört (Erophila verna) and Sedum. The roadsides were very nice with kinds of Geranium, Campanula, Thalictrum, Galium, and of course dropwort (Filipendula) which is dominating at this season. She pointed out some of those typical Gotlandish sedge marshes. The sedge is used to cover the roofs, especially on sheds and such buildings.

We were taken to a place in Spillings were they have had an excavating for hidden treasures and found a great lot of silver from the eigth century. It was in the middle of a fields with corn poppies and blue Polemonium.
We had a cup of coffee at a parking place swith view over the gigantic chalk mine belonging to the Cementa Company in Slite. Imposing!
And there were many flowers which I had not seen before

The next stop was at Vatlings in Fole where we could se an old store house from the thirteenth century, three stores high. They had stock at the bottom, a informal lounge in the middle and an attic at the top.

So we arrived in Visby, the old town with it's remaining encircling town wall. The bus left us at Almedalen, a wellknown park where the politicians of Sweden usually make speeches every summer. My husband and I walked up to St Mary's Cathedral. There a man was playing lute music, a nice to sit down and listen. When we assembled again our guide told us a lot about the history of Visby. We walked to the Tower of Powder and the Fisherman's gate.

Om the way back to Ljugarn we had a stop at the manor house of Romakloster where the ruin is used as a summer theatre. In a garden they displayed oldfashioned medicinal herbs, which of course are interesting for me. Many artists are using the buildings to display their art in the hope of selling their works. There are not less than four avenues up to this manor house, one from each quarter.!

Wednesday July 28 An overcast morning and the bus headed towards Fårö. We arrived just in time for the ferry and went along the eastern coast of that island through poor land where heaths with junipers dominate. Endless well cared fences of stone are streching around the fields. I was astonished that there were so many lakes on this little island. Many lambhus sheds for the sheep, mostly with sedge covered roofs.We had a stop at the Memorial Place of Olof Palme at Sudersand. There they had used stone polishd by nature in a circle which is meant to symbolize his work for the unity of people of our world.
We drove on to Langhammar in the west where we could stroll around among the fantastic natural scultured rauks (limestone formations).
Fairly few herbs to be seen on this heath but rockroses (Fumana procumbens) and lady's bedstraw (Galium Verum) made yellow spots on the stony ground. We could hear the sound of the golden plover over the heaths.
Then the bus went on along the weast coast and there were rauks all the way at the sea shore.
Back to the ferry and to Lummelunda where there are caves you are able to visit. My husband and I strolled among the buildings belonging to the manor house, most of them now used for reataurants and tourist shops.
In the evening I strolled alone to the "Kulturudden" at the most eastern end of Ljugarn and admired the old buildings. The wind was brisk so I used the inner road and not the beach walk. A little rabbit passed between the houses, the garden were often filled with flowers. The mock orange was in its best bloom and the odour lay in the air. An old windmill was in need of repair.

Thursday June 29 the bus headed southwards. The landscape is foliaged here with decidous trees, large villages and many churches. But at the uttermost end of the island the heath landscape with blue viper's bugloss and wild roses are dominating. The rocks at Hoburgen have given the material for lots of sagas about the Hoburgsgubben. The wind was brisk. The swallows were everywhere. A buzzard was circling over the cliffs.
The the tour went along the "Husryggen" the remnants of "the Litorina Wall" to the Museum of stone at Kattilvik where we could listen to how the stonemasons had been working and the occupational decease silicosis had taken many of them. We could even try a little masonry if we wanted to. This most southern part of Gotland consists of gray sandstone, a material which is very useable for grindstones and then we can recognize it in lots of churches.
The rain was beginning - a heavy rain. And we had two hours to spend in Visby. My husband and I found The County Museum of Gotland and could admire the silver treasure from Spillings. As I have told we had seen the place where it had been found the other day. An amazing lot of silver, bracelets, rings, coins etc
The treasure from Spillings
. In the entrance hall of the Museum was a montage which was made to visualize the facts around all the Medieval Churches on Gotland. 93 are still in use and then there are many ruins in Visby. All are built at the beginning of the last thousand years when the island was rich, due to the strategic position in the middle of the Baltic. At the end of the fourteenth century the inhabitants on the island were poorer because of the changed trade routes in the Baltic. No more reconstructions of the churches were made. In Visby just the St Mary's Cathedral was left to our time. All the others were destroyed at a siege in the sixteenth century and were left as ruins. That is why Visby now is known as the town o ruins.

Friday June 30 time to leave. A chaffinch held concert at dawn. The fast ferry left Visby at time in a mist, but later the air was clear and a wind was blowing and the ferry was rolling.
We left Nynashamn in time and the bus rolled out on the long road back to Halsingland. But the roadsides are flowering even on the mainland, and e g on the plains of Uppland there are many fields lying fallow and they were covered in white by scentless mayweed.
We arrived at home at 8 PM after a trip which had given lots of memories.

from Vanja http://members.aol.com/DANSNGFOOL/CLIPART.html
Gotland Nature, Sights, Attractions, History, etc In English

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