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4:17pm on Thursday, 10th June, 2010:

Visby Vignette


So, how was Visby?

I liked it. I was worried I might be disappointed, given that it was on my list of places I want to visit, but I needn't have been — it was a gem.

Here's the view from the front of the hotel I was staying in:

The place was so quiet that I could tell I was getting close to the hotel because I could hear the fountain. There was hardly any traffic anywhere. Here's a picture I took at about 5:30pm, but it could have been at any time — I have lots of pictures of quaint, car-free streets like this:

Ernest Adams told me that the cobblestones date from the 1970s; Visby replaced its tarmac roads with them in order to impress tourists. I remember Colchester doing the same thing, so am not about to complain; they do look more in keeping with the houses than tarmac would.

I got interested in Visby (or Wisby, when they like to sound olde fashionede) through a game, The Patrician. In the game, the place was a trading centre good for wool and pottery. This does seem to be the case in reality, judging by the Visby flag:

They have these little guys all over the place, too:

Here's another one:

And another:

And another:

Here's a flock of them:

They seem to be placed either randomly or as bollards. I suspect they have an ulterior purpose, too, though...

I knew Visby had a bunch of ruined churches, but the city wall was more intact than I was expecting. There are buildings right up against it:

Some of them use it as part of their structure:

Visby is a monster of a tourist destination for three months starting June 25th because that (according to the shopkeeper I quizzed about it) is when mainland Swedes get their income tax refunds and head off on holiday. At the moment, it's really just the locals there, so many of the boutiques are closed. However, a few stay open all year round and the shops the locals use do, too. It was in one of the latter where I saw this display celebrating the upcoming marriage of Crown Princess Victoria (who looks so Swedish she couldn't be anything else) and her former personal fitness instructor, Daniel Westling:

Plates: you can't beat plates when it comes to a royal wedding.

I think this is some kind of post box:

Prettier than our red ones, but more time-consuming to paint I should imagine.

Here's what passes for entertainment in these parts:

In case the full horror of it is not apparent, here's a close-up:

So, that's next year's Eurovision entry sorted, then.

The ruined churches really are very special. This one is reminiscent of Rievaulx Abbey:

No, I'm not going to bore you further with pictures of ruined churches, given that I inflicted the sheep on you, but here's another one that's worth a mention:

It's worth a mention because if you look at the gate, you can see some boys climbing over it:

Why don't girls do things like that?

Visby is about as far north as Inverness, so its bluebells are only just coming into bloom:

Imagine having this view when you walk out of the front of your university:

It's the old harbour, which was filled in and made into a park. My hotel was just the other side of that harbour wall, on the right.

Hey, what food do you associate most with vikings?

Yes, that's right.

There are a lot of these houses over arches in Visby:

Judging by the marks where the plaster has been knocked off, I suspect they may not conform to modern metric standards for delivery vehicle measurements...

Ha! I knew cruise ships visited Visby!

When we were looking for a cruise a couple of years ago, we did consider the Baltic but none of the ships that visited Visby went to all the other places we wanted to visit. Now I've been to Visby, though, I don't have to insist I'll only go on a Baltic cruise if it visits the place. Mind you, my wife will probably still insist we only go when global warming has raised the temperature to holiday-acceptable levels.

Finally, at the end of the Gotland Game Awards there were fireworks out on the beach. They started at 9:30pm.

I don't think I've ever seen fireworks in broad daylight before, but they looked fine. Maybe they're special Swedish daylight fireworks or something.

And that was Visby.

Referenced by Visby Close Up.

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).