Day 5: Stockholm - Borgholm
Borgholm Travel Blog› entry 9 of 13 › view all entries
After three days in Stockholm it was time to go again and fire up good ol' (t)rusty Tweety. When we decided to do this trip by car we figured we should do a bit more than just visit the city, and travel through some of the countryside as well. Which is why we were taking the long way back to Denmark, driving through the forested south of Sweden, with a stopover on one of Sweden's largest islands: Öland.
Apparently Sweden is all about islands, and according to our guidebook Oland is one of the easiest accessible Swedish island experiences, so it seemed a natural choice.
On the way to Öland we stopped for a nice coffee break at one of the many locks in the Gota canal, the canal which (I think) traverses the whole south of Sweden.
We arrived at Öland in the early afternoon. A huge bridge enables you to drive right up to the island, so no hassle with ferries for this island.
The island is 137 kilometres long, but only 16 kilometres wide, and most of the island is a protected nature reserve.
As we hadn't booked any accommodation for tonight we stopped at the Öland tourist office to see if they could find anywhere to stay for us. The staff was very friendly and helpful, but somehow we felt they didn't quite understand what we needed. The girl who helped us kept offering us a room in one of the 4-star resorts on the island, whereas we were more after something a little more 'picturesque'. After all that was the description of the island in our guidebook.
We found a place that looked great in the brochure, Villa Ingrid, and she reluctantly agreed to book us a room there.
Villa Ingrid is, as the name suggests, a stately villa, which has been turned into a hotel. Or, hotel... there was no staff or anything present, it looked more like some form of holiday accommodation which you shared with about 20 other people. A communal kitchen and dining area and shared bathrooms adding to that feeling, which was quite a unique experience really, since all the other occupants of the place were well in their 60s or older.
But before driving to Borgholm in the north we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the south of the island. All around the island you'll find little wooden windmills. There are at least 400 of them (once there were over 2000) and while their use is still unclear to me, they certainly made for great photo opportunities.
Another 'must-see' was the World Heritage listed agricultural landscape, a limestone plateau that makes up the largest part of the southern half of the island. I say must-see between quotation marks because, quite frankly, there wasn't an awful lot to see, really. I'm sure the area holds great archeological value, but to these eyes it wasn't much more than a flat semi-wetland, its inhabitants being mainly of the buzzing kind!
We drove down to the southernmost tip of the island where a picturesque lighthouse looks out over the Baltic Sea.
On the way back up north we stopped at a few more places including a pre-historic stone circle. Not exactly Stonehenge, but once again very picturesque nonetheless (another windmill adding to the perfect postcard picture setting).
However, as interesting as some of the archaeological history of the island may be, one thing really kept nagging me throughout. We have several islands in the North of The Netherlands, called the Wadden Islands, and Öland looks an awful lot like those. Where I'd hoped for some striking natural features the place just looked too much like home for my taste.
This was not helped by the other visitors to the island either. Most of the Dutch islands are big party places in summer, only to mellow down quite quickly once the summer is over and the places are taken over by pensioners going on a nice relaxing break.
Not that we'd desperately needed another night of partying after three days in Stockholm, but something in between would have been nice. This was too much of a culture shock for us.
For dinner we went to a place called Gunntorps Herrgård, famed or its great interpretation of that grand Swedish invention: Smorgasbord. I tell you, the average age dropped by half the moment we walked in the place. Really, it looked more as if we'd walked into the dining room of a retirement home rather than a restaurant. And this is a place that doubles as a youth hostel believe it or not!
The food was great though.
After dinner we went on a quest to find a pub for a late night drink, but after three futile walks through the not so exciting center of Borgholm we opted for an early night instead.