Friday 14 August Marstrand and Gothenberg (Sweden)

Another beautiful morning on the Island Sky – the sun is shining and the sky is blue. We arrived early this morning into the Swedish fishing village of Marstrand in northern Sweden. Founded in the 13th century by a Norwegian king, Marstrand is today a popular summer holiday spot, and plays host to a number of important sailing regattas. Marstrand, an island that is free of cars but has cobblestone alleys and beautiful old houses, has an interesting history and rich culture, its wealth and prosperity throughout the ages has been dependent upon the herring catch. The island has an impressive 17th century Carlsten Fort, named after King Carl Gustav X of Sweden. The fort is on the highest part of the island. We didn’t go ashore this morning for the walking tour because Sandy wasn’t feeling 100%.
From the ship we could see the small village with the Carlsten Fort on top of the hill, the old houses and the Sodra Strandverket, which used to be the Sailing Society building but is now an Art Museum. We could also see lots of sailing boats and motor-boats in the harbour.
This afternoon, we arrived in Gothenberg and sailed to the port of Nolvik under the Gota Alvbron Bridge to the port of Nolvik on the island of Hisingen. We also saw a statue of a sailor’s wife, “Woman By the Sea” which is a memorial to 700 sailors who were killed in World War I – she is looking out to see if her husband is coming back. We were impressed when we docked to see that the Port Authority had the Australian flag flying with the Swedish flag to welcome us.
Gothenberg is on the west coast of Sweden and was founded in the 17th Century, and had city walls and a moat around them. We all disembarked the ship, boarded 3 buses and were taken on a city highlights tour. Our tour guide, Carl, gave us lots of interesting information about Gothenberg, which has cobbled streets, canals, lots of green spaces and outdoor eating areas, and also has Sweden’s largest botanical gardens. Carl told us that the Gothenbeg Cultural Festival is on this week and there are thousands of people here – I am sure we saw all of them, plus all the marquis etc as we drove around Gothenberg taking in the sights! We were amazed at the number of green spaces/parks that they have here – 43% – there were people everywhere, having picnics, swimming and enjoying the sunshine. Interestingly, the pavements here have hot water pipes under them to keep them ice-free in winter.
We drove past the Fish Markets – the church-like Feskekörka, the “fish-church”, was built in 1874 as an experiment to see if a single structure could stand without pillars. Inside the Feskekörka is a range of fishmongers and restaurants. We drove through the city, up and down the streets, and then over the moat into Old Gothenberg.
Our first stop was Masthuggskyrkan (the Masthuggs Church), which was built from 1910-1914. We were impressed with the inside of this lovely Swedish Lutheran Protestant Church. We were also able to get a wonderful view as the church is built on a hill overlooking part of Gothenberg.
Our next stop was at the Botanical Gardens, which has 175 acres of beautiful flowers, plants etc from all over the world. We walked up to the Rock Garden where they had a lovely waterfall (yes, I know, another waterfall – we haven’t put any photos of waterfalls up for a few days now!).
Then we stopped in the Haga District, which was built for the harbour workers – the walled city of Gothenberg had three gates, which were locked each night and opened again in the morning, but the workers had to be at work earlier than the gates would be open, so they needed to live outside the walls. We wandered through some of the cobbled streets of Haga, which is known for its picturesque wooden houses, its cafes and the different atmosphere to that of the city streets and suburbs. At the end of one of the streets, we could see the “Fortlet” (small fort) called Skansen Kronan, with a gold crown on top – built in 1687-1700.
Another interesting thing we learnt this afternoon from our local guide, Carl, is that Scandinavia is made up of only three countries – Norway, Denmark and Sweden and that those three, together with Finland and Iceland make up the “Nordic Countries”. (We always thought that Finland was part of Scandinavia.)
After we arrived back on board the ship just after 6.00pm, we were delighted when a marching band arrived on the dock to play and march for us to say goodbye as we sailed away. They played and marched and danced for us for over an hour, and they all waved to us as the ship pulled away from the dock. We sat out in the Lido Outdoor Café for dinner, as the weather was very mild, and enjoyed our dinner and the company of our friends Carol and Tony and two new friends Mary and Gwen from Tasmania, while watching the sun go down on a lovely day.

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