For a good number of years, Nancy has collected crystal vases, candy dishes, and the like. There is a famous glass blowing company, Orefors, the largest glassworks group in Scandinavia, with a history dating from 1742. When we went, we were the only visitors there. Now, they boast over a million people a year come through their shops.
I had a patient who, as a graduate student, had spent a year and a half in Sweden, staying with a family in the ancient town of Visby on the island of Gotland. It is the best preserved medieval city in Scandinavia, and has been named a Unesco World Heritage site. Visby is protected by a wall of stone that encircles the city and the old church ruins at its center.
My patient described how each year the townsfolk dressed up in period clothing and hosted Medieval Week to commemorate a battle that took place July, 1361. During this fight, 1800 Swedish peasant farmers attempted to defend the town against 100 invaders- trained soldiers, who were loyal to the king of Denmark. Woefully outmatched, there were no survivors on the Swedish side and Visby was forced to pay retribution to the Danes lest any remaining townspeople be put to death.
My patient recommended we not miss this celebration. He even put us in touch with the family who had hosted him when he was a student. They still lived in the town and were eager to show us around.
We took the ferry boat that regularly sails between Visby and the mainland, drove into town, and parked. I left Nancy in the car and went to check into the hotel.
As I crossed the street, I heard someone call out to me. Looking up, I saw a man, strangely dressed, carrying a pole of some sort.
"I am the burgermeister of this town and I invite you to participate in the tournaments soon to be held."
Had I not been prepared, I suppose I would have thought one of us was losing his mind. However, I thanked him for his invitation, and mentioned my wife- in a wheelchair- might have trouble attending.
"You need not worry", he said. "I will personally see that you are well cared for when you come."