Back To The Baltics

I haven’t swum in the Baltic since I was about 11.

Back then in the 1970s my German ‘Tante’ took me to the holiday island of Fehmarn where she had an affair with the waiter at the hotel and I didn’t get on with my cousin Tomas.

So quite different to be invited to give a lecture at the Swedish ‘Almedalen’ festival, a week long gathering of politicos  in the medieval town of Visby on the lovely limestone island of Gotland.

I was put up in a fantastic 70s tourism apartment block in Snäck. It was built as a rival temptation to the burgeoning lure of Spain at that period but has now acquired very Swedish characteristics. Lots of trendy modernist furniture and a bold slanted design. It nearly bankrupted the local authority forty years ago but the investment was worth it.

The sea was lukewarm and very unsalty. This is because the Baltic has so much fresh water flowing into it from the surrounding countries. And because it is a shallow basin it doesn’t get much water coming in from the North Sea.  Like Uist the previous week it had the scent of kelp and clover and huge skies. Not quite the Balearics, but beautiful.

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