As we continue our journey in the Baltic, a theme has emerged….we are following the trails of the Hanseatic League and its trade route. Four weeks ago, I’d never heard of the Hanseatic League. Now, I could easily identify one the many 7-story stone and mortar warehouses used to store and transport furs, fish, and goods between Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Russia during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
The island of Gotland is only about 50 miles from the Swedish mainland, resulting in a large vacationing population. During the summer season, there are only couple busy weeks. One in early June is designated for political rallies, and one in mid-July is reserved for recent co-ed grads and early twenty-somethings, known locally as “Paaarty-Time” week. Imagine droves of tight skinned young, long-legged, blonde haired, blue eyed kinders rafted upon the marina on chartered boats (yes – a sparkly disco ball and full commercial DJ magically blending the latest EDM euro-groove at molar shaking volume through the wee hours). WIDAGO was very excited that we were, for once, not the loudest boat in the marina.
In addition to the historical walking tour of the city, witnessing Federer lose in the Wimbledon Finals on Ahab’s birthday in a local Irish (?) Pub, and the obvious phenomenal people watching, we finally rented bikes to explore beyond a four-block radius. Not only did we manage to avoid A) getting lost, B) getting run over C) going head-over tea kettle on the rented bikes – we got a wee bit of exercise exploring the coastline north and south of the city. Perhaps the highlight of our ride was, of course, stopping for lunch, seaside. (Just a reminder about Swedish Party-Time Week). As we approached the waterfront establishment, I noticed, with enthusiasm, a group of young shirtless, blonde, sweaty, muscled gents having a lively match of beach volleyball. As a former Physical Education teacher, I truly value the importance of daily physical activity – and this was no exception. But, as with many athletic activities, there has to be winners and losers. Well, you can consider the winners plus one, since I was treated to a parade of the losing bump-set-spikers trotting along the waterfront in their birthday suits, as they took an icy plunge into the brisk Baltic waters. As I said before, the people watching in Visby has been spectacular.