Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Journey to the Archipelago Where Cars Are Not Allowed Using 4 Modes of Transport


I had a fabulous transportation experience this past weekend.

One of my colleagues at the University of Gothenburg, who had recently purchased a house on an island called Donso in the southern archipelago of Gothenburg, Sweden, invited me for lunch.

My colleague had told me that no cars are allowed on the island and that it has always been so. This I found very intriguing and I wanted to see how "this would work."

He gave me explicit directions as to how to get there (see below) which involved taking a tram to Saltholmen, catching a ferry (with a coffeeshop) after a short walk from the last tram stop,  and then he would meet me once the ferry landed on the island.

Since no cars are allowed, he would pick me up in his golf cart, since that is how the residents get around the island. The journey, which required the use of 4 modes of transport, including my feet, but no car, was wonderful but, best of all, was seeing and experiencing the fresh air, the beautiful landscape, and the peace and serenity.

Above are some photos that my host took and forwarded to me when we took a walk on the island.

Then, on my way on the tram back, I met a UMass Amherst grad, named Brad, from Chicopee, who graduated in 2011 and majored in Mechanical Engineering, and who fell in love with a Swedish woman, who studied linguistics at UMass Amherst -- what a small world! He is now studying for a Master's at Chalmers in Gothenburg. It felt great to reminisce about Amherst with them.

My colleague's precise directions:

As you know, we live in the archipelago at an island called Donsö. There is a tram nr 11 leaving Hagakyrkan at 10.03 towards Saltholmen. You arrive at Saltholmen at 10.28 and then the ferry departs at 10.40. There is a short walk towards the ferry terminal, but you will see the terminal from the tram. You will arrive at Donsö at 11.15, which is the 4th stop. You will pass under a bridge and then there is a quick stop at Styrsö Skäret (sometimes no one gets of there) and just two minutes after that is the stop at Donsö.  I will pick you up by the ferry. Are the times ok? There are ferries about once every hour if you like it earlier or later.
The boats name is Silvertärnan, but check the destination sign also (sometimes they change boats). The destination sign should be 181 Vrångö. Sometimes it also says Donsö in small prints below. Note that all ferries are called number 181 but there should not be any other ferries departing at that time.
There is a small cafeteria on the upper deck of the ferry. It is a slow boat so you will get a “sightseeing” of the islands. There is a nice folder describing all the islands you pass:
Looking forward to seeing you.

 And, on Sunday, The New York Times in its Travel Section, had how to spend 36 hours in Gothenburg!

However, although the northern and southern archipelago are both part of Gothenburg, no mention was made of these special islands and they are officially part of this city. 

Just the ferry ride alone with the beauty of the waves and seascape is definitely worth the time!