Travels with V

Öland

A small Swedish island full of surprises

Öland is just a stone’s throw off the coast, and easily accessible by a bridge. But it’s still a place full of mysteries. There are ruins here with graffiti many hundred year’s old, there’s the magical stillness of the “Alvaret”, the wry and wild woods of the Troll woods and the surprise of a praised gourmet restaurant in the basement of an ordinary villa That’s just a few of the things that happened to us during a couple of days on this island.  So join us there!

Since 1972 there’s a simple and easy way to get to Öland from the city of Kalmar on the mainland via the 6 km long Öland Bridge. And all of a sudden you’re in another dimension. Here’s no need to hurry, the roads are mostly narrow and winding. The Alvaret heath dominates the center and the rest is mostly cultivated.  Forests are found mainly in the north. 

SEASIDE SCENERY
GETTLINGE PREHISTORIC GRAVE FIELD

Since 1972 there’s a simple and easy way to get to Öland from the city of Kalmar on the mainland via the 6 km long Öland Bridge. And all of a sudden you’re in another dimension. Here’s no need to hurry, the roads are mostly narrow and winding. The Alvaret heath dominates the center and the rest is mostly cultivated.  Forests are found mainly in the north. 

OLD FOREST RAILROAD, NOW FOR TOURIST TRANSPORT

The island is tranquil and idyllic now, but it has a dramatic and violent history. Borgholm castle had an immense strategic role in controlling the important Kalmar sound where most of the marine traffic in the Baltic sea passed through.  From the middle ages and a couple of hundred years on germans, danes and swedes fought to conquer the fortress, which was destroyed and rebuilt many times. Finally it burned down. Another impressive construction is the King’s wall in the south. In the 17th century the Swedish king Charles X had a strong wall built right across the the island to protect his royal hunting grounds from poachers. 

THE KING'S WALL THAT CUTS THE ISLAND IN TWO

Our journey starts in the main (and only) city of Borgholm, a picturesque little small-house town with wooden villas. The main square is dominated by a long and low building with a high tower. You might think it’s the city hall, but it’s actually a church. 

We stay in a lodge just south of the city, within walking distance to it, in a stylish mansion with the odd name “Queen Victoria’s resting home”.  It was once a place where tired housewives could relax away from the family chores and duties. Now it’s a regular hotel, but the place still looks exactly like it did back then, a hundred years ago. 

From here a footpath leads to the caste ruins. It’s a surprisingly well kept building, most of the walls are intact and you can climb stairs and get a fantastic view of Kalmar sound from the upper floors. The castle was never destroyed, but it burnt and was abandoned. For many years it was fashionable to see the ruins, they were considered romantic at the time. So today you can see graffiti on the walls that was carved in the 17th and 18th century! 

HERE IS GRAFITTI FROM THE 17TH CENTURY!

But times of trouble and war plagued the islanders also in much earlier times. A type of prehistoric defense structure called “ancient fortress” can be found in many places here. They are circular stone walls to where people could flee in times of unrest. 

We visited one of the most remarkable of them, the ancient fortress of  Ismanstorp where there’s not just the stone wall with its seven gates, inside the circle the remnants of 88 houses are found. This is extremely rare and has been compared to a Roman military camp. 

All along the coast of the Baltic sea there are small fishing villages, and Öland is no exception. They are just even smaller here. One that we visited for a seeafood lunch is  Kårehamn where they served a very nice plate with smoked salmon and buttered potatoes. 

The southern tip of Öland is, as any dedicated bird watcher knows, a magnet for migrating birds. Huge flocks rest and feed here on their way to or from the nordic countries. And many visitors here carry large telescopes in the hope that they might see an exotic bird. The famous lighthouse “Långe Jan” is open to the public if it’s not too windy, climb it’s many stairs and get a fantastic view of the surroundings. 

"TALL JAN" LIGHTHOUSE
A BIRD WATCHER'S MEKKA
VIEW FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE

We have already mentioned the “Alvaret”, a vast flat heath with a magical atmosphere. There are lots of marked walkways across it but it can still be tricky to navigate in. But in clear weather it’s a great experience! 

Finally some pictures from the north side where we found “Byrums raukar”, spectacular sculpted limestone rocks with plenty of fossils (forbidden to remove). Here is also the northern lighthouse “Tall Eric”, and the Troll woods forest.  

PS. How is the name “Öland” pronounced? The first letter “Ö” is the same sound as the “i” when you say “bird” in English. and the rest of the name is just about the same as in English, although the “a” should be short and pronounced like the “o” in “love”.

Top five on Öland: 

  1. To see: The “Alvaret”, Borgholm castle, ancient castles, “Långe Jan” lighthouse etc.
  2. Stay and Eat: Queen Victoria’s rest home. Peace and quiet in a classic setting. Borgholm and the castle is near. Good restaurants in Borgholm are “Trädgårdsgatan 26” (excellent gourmet kitchen in tiny diner!), Hotel Borgholm och “Stora Hamnkontoret” (in the harbour, by the sea).
  3. Hikes: The magical “Alvaret”. Or an easier walk in the “Trolls wood”.
  4. Beach: a couple of good ones on Öland, biggest and most famous is  “Böda Sand” in the north-east.
  5. Other: Gettlinge prehistoric grave field, Kårehamn fishing harbour, lighthouses Långe Jan (in the south) and Långe Erik (north). Långe Jan is also a great place for bird watching!
Jag som gör den här resebloggen heter Lars Aldman och jag har tidigare jobbat som journalist mm på SR och SVT. Och "V" som jag reser med är min älskade hustru Veronica, journalist och fotograf.

Vår favoritsysselsättning är att resa runt i världen och se andra kulturer och samhällen. I flera år har vi äventyrat i Asien, Afrika och Latinamerika, och även naturligtvis i Europa. Och vi vill gärna dela med oss av våra erfarenheter och glädjeämnen, och hoppas att ni vill följa med oss!

PS. På sajten aldmangallery.com hittar ni mina bilder från både när och (mest) fjärran. Djur, natur, samhällen och människor.
Resebloggar finns det gott om men vi har en lite annan tanke med våra berättelser. Vi vill främst beskriva våra upplevelser av udda platser, människorna vi möter och miljöer som är rätt annorlunda mot vad vi möter hemma.

Därför hamnar vi ibland i avlägsna indianbyar i Guatemalas berg eller bland andetroende bybor på en ö i Indonesien. Men också på mer kända platser som Machu Picchu i Peru eller sandstränderna i Goa. Allt sett genom våra ögon och kameror.

Den som vill ha restips får också sitt - varje resmål har en avdelning med sånt vi kan rekommendera. Eller undvika. Vårt fokus är framför allt att sporra er läsare att göra som vi - resa rätt ut i den vida världen.

Jag heter Lars Aldman och har bl a jobbat som journalist mm på SR och SVT.  Och "V" som jag reser med är min älskade hustru Veronica, som också är journalist och fotograf. Vi älskar att resa och uppleva andra kulturer. I flera år har vi rest omkring i världens fyra hörn och vi vill gärna dela med oss av våra erfarenheter och glädjeämnen på dessa upptäcktsfärder. Hoppas ni vill följa med!

Hej!

Vår senaste resa gick till Albanien där vi under tre veckor upplevde detta okända men så spännande och vackra land. Från de hisnande höga bergen i norr, de gamla städerna och de djupa floddalarna i landets mitt, till de långa stränderna med sitt klara vatten i söder. Klicka på Albanien och läs om landets dramatiska historia och dess vänliga och gästfria invånare.

NYTT!

There's now a new addition to the blog, about our trip to Albania. During three weeks we traveled up and down this unknown but beautiful country. From the high mountains in the north to the ancient towns and the deep valleys inland, to the sandy beaches and the clear green water in the south. Click on Albania in the map and read about its dramatic history and kind and hospitable people.

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I'm Lars Aldman from Sweden. I worked for many years at the Swedish National TV and Radio, but now my main interest is traveling around the world with "V", my lovely wife Veronica, who is a freelance journalist and photographer.
For the last ten years we have traveled through Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe. We love to experience different cultures and societies and we hope you'll join us!