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Gotland pt. 1 June 23, 2007

Posted by thebigswede in Uncategorized.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

— Mark Twain

One of the greatest things about studying abroad is the fellow foreign students you encounter. By their very nature, a study abroad student is a different breed of homo sapien. These students leave every shred of cultural familiarity, abandon friend and family alike, plunge head first into a new (often hostile) environment, delay career ambition, pay gross sums of money, endure all kind of new discomfort, unpalatable foods, soul-crushing isolation and bizarre alien ‘norms’…and for what? Perhaps its best to leave this as a rhetorical question. The response is ultimately personal. The change, however, is for all eternity.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” — Helen Keller

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” –- Henry Miller

Hi. My name is Mike Larson. I am a travel-aholic. I actually realized this while on Gotland, during one particular evening chatting with my fellow pilgrims around a newly made campfire. You know you are an addict when you begin to plan your next trip, and dream up many more when you are currently in the middle of a trip. Somehow we got on the topic of traveling to South America, Africa and how great it would be to see the Middle East as well. Scary. Exciting. If I can somehow swing it, and the good Lord chooses not to take me home early, I would always like to either be on a trip or in the process of planning a trip, for the rest of my life. Wish me luck. Now on to what you are actually waiting for, a nice summary of our 10-day adventure on the Swedish island of Gotland.

Unlike who you ultimately fall in love with, where you chose to journey in life is completely up to you – its a choice. Gotland had long been one place I’d been eager to choose, as much for its natural splendor as for its long and important viking history and heritage. Imagine my fantastical (did I just make that word up?) excitement when along one day comes my favorite band of German friends, desperately trying to ‘twist my arm’ into accompanying them on a grand biking tour-de-Gotland. I’ll leave it to your imagination just how much convincing I actually needed. It was for this very reason I chose to extend my time in Sweden by 3 weeks, much to the chagrin of comrades and relatives alike in the Emerald City. Sorry guys.

We had no definite plans, no reservations, no definite place to be, just bikes, supplies, a map and an insatiable thirst for exploration and adventure. Preciously my kind of trip.

I will now introduce our cast of intrepid characters. Being a biker gang, we had to come up with a catchy title. We called ourselves ‘Valhalla’s Valkyries’, a Nordic influenced name which is sort of reminiscent of Hell’s Angles. We were:

Stephie ‘xXx’ Hruby

David ‘Glamour Boy’ Sevcik

Simon ‘The Big Red’ Mennecke

Melony ‘The Squirrel’ Masino

and finally, yours truly, Mike ‘The Big Swede’ Larson

Together, we were a hardened, rough and tough band of Scandinavian Studies students that you did NOT want to mess with.

Day 1: Uppsala-Stockholm-Nyarshamn-Visby

Highlights: Woke up deadly early (like 5ish) , took the bus to Stockholm. While having breakfast with the crew I run into an old friend I met while in Russia, Tom from Chicago and got to meet his family. Pleasure meeting all you Malino’s! The ferry was huge and despite drinking lots of coffee we ended up napping most of the way to Visby. Upon arrival we picked up our rental bikes (great quality!), packed our things in the trailers, and set off to explore Visby. The city itself is just a gem, truly, a gem. Built largely by the Hanseatic League, this walled city has so much history and natural beauty – its almost like stepping into a dream. Everywhere in the city are ruins of old forgotten churches, complete with arches, pillars and such. Simply a place unlike any other. Oh, did I mention we had sunny weather? It doesn’t get any better. At some point during the day we decided to begin our formal journey around the island, and after consulting the map carefully made way to the north. I’m pretty sure we made it about 30 to 35 km on day one. Not sure precisely where we eventually made camp, but it was on some beach in the untouched wilderness of Gotland, complete with perfect sunset to cap a perfect day.

Wow that was long, and that was just the highlights of day 1. This could take an eternity to finish. Hmm. I think the best way is to break it down into parts, but I promise to actually finish this trip, unlike what I did with Russia. Shame on me. Its pretty late and I need some sleep now, so expect part II up tomorrow. I promise! Stay tuned.



1. Mela - June 24, 2007

GREAT 🙂 ! Go on like this! Vi ses i morgon, kram

2. marcovinicio - June 24, 2007

Mike, you owe the world a continued life-long blog to capture all the extraordinary travelling you will undoubtedly do!

3. Any Dreams Will Do » Any Dreams Will Do June 23, 2007 4:52 pm - June 29, 2007

[…] Gotland pt. 1 ?Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn?t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. … […]

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