Leaving Stockholm behind me, I got on the train headed for the Swedish island of Oland. All I really knew about this place was that it’s known as the “Island of Windmills.” There are about 400 of them on the island, and they’re such an important part of the Oland landscape and culture that they’re protected monuments.
It was a pretty long travel day. I was on the train for 5 hours, then once I got to Kalmar I had no real idea of how to get over to Oland. I knew there was a bridge to get to the island, and I knew there were buses going over that bridge, I just didn’t have any hard facts, despite all of my best googling efforts. Thankfully the bus depot was right beside the train station, so I was able to buy my return ticket there, and my bus left in 15 minutes! Whoo, that’s some good timing. The bus driver spoke no English, so I wasn’t able to ask him to let me know when we got to the Hagaby stop (pronounced HOG-O-BEE, not HAG-A-BEE, like I thought.) Again, I had no idea how long the bus ride would be (2 hours!) and I was so worried about missing my stop that I couldn’t really relax. At the town of Borgholm the bus changed drivers, and the kid sitting right at he very front got off, so I took my chance and went and sat there to ask the driver to let me know when to get off. And he spoke English! Yay! So I got off where I needed to and then just had to find my hostel.
These are the moments when I wish I had a car. I hate being uncertain about where I’m going when I’m lugging 40 lbs around with me. In the blazing sun. I started walking down the road where I thought my hostel was, then saw the street numbers and they were nowhere close to the address I was looking for, so I went back and started walking down the other road. Thankfully I saw a man standing on his driveway and stopped to ask for help. Naturally I was going the wrong way so back I headed to where I had just been. At this point I was wondering what the hell was I thinking by coming here? WHY did I travel 5 hours out of my way? Windmills? Who gives a sh*t about windmills! It was hot out and I started to sweat and frankly that just makes me cranky. I was NOT feeling the Oland love. I found the hostel and checked in.
I borrowed a bike from the hostel and decided to head out for a quick ride to check out the neighbourhood. Only kids wear helmets in Europe, so I followed suit, but riding on the side of the highway with cars whizzing past you at 100 km/hour was nerve racking to say the least. I kept thinking of what my parents would say! (Sorry mom and dad, I lived to tell about it!) I just crossed my fingers and hoped I wouldn’t fall over. There are plenty of side roads to cycle on though, so I quickly got off the main road because I was kind of sh*tting my pants and it wasn’t as relaxing and enjoyable as I would have liked. Just down the street from where I was staying there was a beach with a lighthouse on the point. The sun was in the last hour or so before it would go down, so the light was beautiful and I was gasping (literally!) in awe at the incredible scenery I had before me. THIS is why I’m here. THIS makes it all worthwhile! All of my negative feelings from earlier in the day just evaporated. NOW I’m feeling the Oland summer love!