Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
1st June, 2018
A pleasant, sunny day at sea saw us transit the central Baltic, passing north of the island of Gotland overnight and then approaching its only city, Visby, in the early hours. It was flat calm, glorious morning as we closed in on the brand new purpose built cruise pier to arrive at 08:00 there.
Visby is a beautifully preserved medieval UNESCO World Heritage Site port – known as the town of ‘roses & ruins.’ It’s imposing 2.5 mile city wall dates from the 13th century, housing within it cobbled streets and architectural relics of bygone era; one of great wealth accumulated during years of successful merchant trading.
Organised excursions today whisked those who wished so off for train rides around the countryside, and various other coach trips around the island and of course guided walking tours within the city itself. Having chatted to some of my team earlier who had all agreed that we had eaten too much Saga food so far this cruise, we decided to take some bicycles out for a pootle around prior to sampling a ‘light’ local lunch ashore.
Myself, the Chief Engineer, Cruise Director and Safety Officer mustered at the gangway around midday; bicycles at the ready. Having not pre-agreed a specific route, we found an ideal small lane leading alone the coast passing various lovely little coves & beaches. Gotland is a rather flat island, making it ideal for cyclists, and we passed several others enroute as well as quite a few caravans & campsites – it seems that you may camp wherever you wish on this island.
We had cycled around 8 miles along the coast – and were at our furthest anticipated distance from base – before discussing our return to the town for said light lunch somewhere, when the Chief Engineer unfortunately suddenly acquired a puncture in his rear tyre. An unplanned occurrence saw us having to stop and think matters through; none of us had thought to bring a repair kit on what was assumed to be a short outing on well-paved, flat roads. It was decided that the route be retraced on foot, whilst I would cycle back the way we came in search of a good Samaritan who might exchange a puncture repair kit for a few euros. This is about the time our comedy of errors commenced.
Having cycled around 4 miles back along the coast, I quite coincidentally came across some caravan-users fixing a punctured bicycle tyre in their campsite. Upon quick negotiation I managed to obtain a patch, some glue and a pump, placed all in my pocket and cycled with due urgency back to the scene. Around halfway back, a van came racing along the lane the other way – the Chief Engineer leaned out of the passenger window and shouted “Hawaaaay!” (He’s from South Shields) before disappearing into the distance in a trail of dust. Slightly confused, I had no idea whether to return to where I had left the others or go back to return the repair kit to its rightful owners. Just then, the Cruise Director appeared asking if I had seen the Safety Officer, as he was last seen cycling off at some stage in an unknown direction…
After a certain amount of re-grouping, we managed to locate each other again and all reconvened in town, where we enjoyed something far from a light lunch, in the form of an enormous bowl of delicious Swedish meatballs with pasta. Additionally on the way back to the ship, we happened across what claimed to be Europe’s largest ice cream shop. Oh well, best laid plans…
Back in work mode again (i.e. organised) and bikes safely stowed on board, we sailed out of sunny Visby just before supper that evening, leaving another fantastic port behind us and aiming somewhere new again tomorrow – Karlskrona.
Captain Kim Tanner
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