Exploring Gotland and the Island of Faro

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I know you’re probably thinking where in the world is Gotland, let alone Faro.  Gotland is a little island in the Baltic sea off Sweden.  It was once a popular trading post in the Viking age which was transformed into a very wealth island later, due to its trading of silver.  Some silver can still be found buried around the countryside. However, if you find it, you cannot keep it.  Instead the Gotland government will take it and give you a 10% reward for finding some of their buried treasure.  These riches and the trading location is also the main reasons Sweden and Russia have fought over it for many years. Some of the natives are currently concerned that Russia will try to take them over again.  But today, it is a Sweden territory, a UNESCO World Heritage site, plus Sweden’s sunniest vacation destination.

Gotland

Visby, the capital of Gotland, is absolutely beautiful.  We were lucky enough to be there during the Traditional Midsummer Festival which is held yearly.   People and music were everywhere.  Total celebration mode was all about with an abundance of energy. The Festival time is a great time to visit the city.

Oh, and if you’re coming to Visby via a cruise ship, it’s located about 1.5 km from the port.  Not very far at all. While in Visby, you can explore the well preserved 3.5 km Ringmuren (City Ring Wall), which is why the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as the Santa Maria Cathedral. Both of them were built in the 13th Century and definitely worth taking some time to explore. 

Ringmuren (City Ring Wall)

In Visby, you will also see beautiful cottages with red roofs, and you can explore the Gotland Museum, if you like. The people are very friendly. They speak their native language of Gutnish as well as English.  So, there is no language issue for English speaking people. Currently, the currency is the Swedish Krone, which has a very nice conversion rate to the US Dollar.  Taxes are also very limited.

Just in case you’re curious what the weather is like.  We where there in mid-July which is their summertime.  It was 69^F to low 70s. (Cool for me.)   Being part of the Scandinavia region, there summer months are total sun with only a few hours (3-4) of darkness at night, in the summer.  And the reverse in the winter.  For Example: While we were there, it finally was dark at 12:45 am.  And then, sunrise was at 4:18 am.

In order to see the most of Gotland and Faro Island during our exploration, we took a driving tour all around Gotland and then a ferry over to Faro Island.  Outside of Visby, you will see lots of farms in rural areas. Our tour conductor enlightened us that their current sources of income are tourism, sheep, and concrete.  Since the island is mainly limestone, they have a large concrete plant on Gotland.  Yes, we visited it too. 

Farm in Rural Gotland

Another interesting fact that we learned on the tour was that Gotland has as many sheep as people on the island.  The tour conductor said they had approximately 58,000 people and the same number of sheep.  That’s a lot of sheep!  Their Gotland sheep are famous for having very curly hair and horns.  And, there wool is now being sought after my many designers. Yes, we got to feel the wool which was very silky soft.

During our tour, we passed a bunch of churches. There are roughly 97 churches on the island.  Some dating back to the 11th century, like the Garde Church which we visited.  It was explained to us that Gotland people are not very religious, but they do try to go to church on Easter and Christmas now.  Gotland was previously pagan land for many years, as was most of the Scandinavian area.  We did visit one Church where people are buried under the floor and it gave me very eerie feeling. This was very odd to me since I have visited many other churches, like the Vatican that have people buried within it, and never experienced that feeling.  

Next, we took a short ferry ride over to the Island of Faro.  The island is best known for being the place that famous Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman lived and died.  He and his wife are buried by the Faro Church, a medieval Lutheran church, next to an absolutely beautiful field of poppies. 

Faro is also known for being home of the most famous rauk fields found on the Langhammars peninsula rocky seaside.  A rauk is a huge column-like limestone creation from the ice ages.  From the picture, you can see they are massive.  There is also one there that looks like a man’s face.    

Restaurant Farogarden on the Island of Faro

After exploring Langhammars area, we had the opportunity to stop for lunch at the quaint Restaurant Farogarden.  The weather was divine, so we ate outside with our group.   I had Salmon, and Rick tried the Lamb Burgers.  They were both amazing.  The Lingonberry Salad, a native tradition, was a great addition to the dish. And, having never had Lamb Burgers, I had to try a bite too. Let’s just say, you need to put them on your must tries if ever in Faro.

Fresh Salmon with Dill Sauce, Potato, & Lingonberry Salad
Lamb Burger, Potato Crisps, & Lingonberry Salad

Back on the tour again, we stopped to explored a small shop of local goods. We were pleasantly surprised with the variety of things there from the normal touristy stuff to beautiful local works of art.  Yes, there were also a lot of wool items.  While there, one of the things that I thought was most interesting was the sheep wool hanging out of the top of the building.  They were using it as insulation.  I guess if you have an abundance of it to use, it would make a great insulator.  It makes wonderfully warm clothing.

Shop on Faro with Wool Hanging Out of top of Building

Ok, now the final question that I know some of you are wondering.  Would I go back to visit this place again?   My answer is Yes.  I felt very safe there the entire time.  The people are all very friendly and willing to help tourists.  It is also every clean and has lots of photo opportunities everywhere.  Go enjoy Gotland and Faro, if you get a chance.

For more pictures click here.

Nola

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