Gullholmen’s most prominent landmark is the pilot’s ladder on the island’s highest point. These kinds of lookouts seem to have been very popular along the Swedish west coast, on the outer islands to be precise. In the old days before the technical inventions and “precise” meteorological forecasts it was the best way to observe the weather permanently to be able to send out storm warnings and all this to the sailors. In the case of Gullholmen, the pilot could even climb a ladder and had a higher point of observation. It must have been a hard job though, to stand up there even during the strongest winds. This lookout is no longer in use today and also the lower steps of the ladder have been removed out of security reasons. Which was good, haha, otherwise I might have been tempted to climb it. The house is not inhabited but kept in a good condition. On Gullholmen’s website I have seen a contact phone number for the lookout, maybe there is someone who might give a tour and tell stories about the life of the pilots?
But not only for a closer inspection of this lookout and the house it is worth to climb up here. The views from here are fantastic, even on the rainy and cloudy day I was on Gullholmen.
Access up here is easy: get off the boat at Gullholmen’s main pier and walk uphill. Look for the little sign Lotsutkiken which means pilot’s lookout (lots = pilot, utkiken = lookout). It is a good idea to wear comfortable shoes with a good sole, because it is no stairs but rock uphill. It can get slippery in rain.
I have more photos of the little house and ladder in one of my travelogues and of the views from high up there in another.
The skipper’s museum is located on the tiny island of Gullholmen (the big island is called Hörmanö; for orientation, please have a look at the Google Earth photo in my transport tip). And I highly recommend to walk around on this little island because it is very much picturesque, photo opportunities around each corner, even in rainy and cloudy weather. I loved the way, tiny gardens are laid out and the little maritime decorations everywhere. Here a ship in a window, there a weather vane in form of a ship, cute name plates at the houses, etc. It I also a good way to pass the time in case you are here too early for a visit to the skipper’s museum. But be aware that it involves climbing up and down the tiny roads.
I have uploaded photos of this cute little island in several albums:
Feeling light and blue on Gullholmen,
Gullholmen’s mostly maritime decorations,
Gullholmen’s gardens, plants and flowers.
This interesting museum was once the house of the most prominent and wealthy sailor in Gullholmen, Albert Arvidsson. He was one of the first to start selling mackarel catch to US end of 19th century when US mackarel fishing declined. He lived in this house with his family and his children Anna and his son (sorry, I seriously forgot the name of the son). After he died, his children inherited the house and continued to live here. They never married. Anna died in 1987 and her wish was that the house would never be sold and transformed into a summer house but should stay as it was and become a museum. We were first a bit hestitant if we should visit it, because it is open only with a guided tour and guided tours are given in Swedish only. But obviously one of the museum women listened to our debate, came outside and explained us a lot about the house and its history. We then got our tickets and could visit the house on our own. It is surely stuffed with things from the daily life of Arvidssons, but it really gave a very interesting glimpse into life at the coast, especially life of a sailor family. The ground floor is full with navigation instruments and ship parts and the household cellar goods. Upstairs is kitchen, living room, dining room, but closed with a rope to prevent visitors from sitting on the furniture :-) The upper floor contained the bedrooms and the loft was full with Anna and her brother’s toys, books, schoolbooks and several display dummies dressed in Arvidsson’s festive clothes. Drawers and cabinets still contained bedlinen and underwear, in parts it was as if the family was only out for a walk to return home.
The museum consist of several houses: the main house, a boathouse and the sailmaker’s house. We have only been in the first two but it was well worth the money spent. Photography is not allowed inside all of the houses. But their website shows photos of the houses' interiors. Entrance fee was 50 SEK per person (July 2009). Open only during the summer months which is from July 4 until August 13, but then from Tuesday until Sunday, 3:30 – 6 p.m.
I love mussels and I cannot resist to have them whenever they are on a menu (months with “r” or without, I don’t care). So it was without any doubt that I ordered the mussels when we sat down at the covered terrace of Skottarn restaurant for lunch. And yes, they were delicious! What I even loved more was the fact that I could order milk and no one gave me strange looks. Sweden is milk land nevertheless! We enjoyed our lunch and drinks were happy to be able to sit outside but covered by the terrace roof since it was raining cats and dogs.
Our bill came to 513 SEK, which was mussels (120 SEK), soup (95 SEK), choice of the day (140 SEK – oops, I forgot what it was but have already asked), two beer (67 SEK each) and two milk (12 SEK each).
Oh, and especially for Richie: the beer was Staropramen, just in case, D & you want to visit Sweden’s west coast one day, lol.
Skottarn is easy to find. From the main pier in Gullholmen/Hörmanön, wald past all the boats to the little (artificial) island to the south. It is the only building on this island.
Favorite Dish: Opening hours (for 2009):
Friday: 6 p.m. to 1 a.m, Sunday: 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., from June to August: open daily.
Haha, faithful readers of my Sweden pages will know already that I could easily have called my trip “from cake to cake”, and Gullholmen was no exception. Since the weather was rainy and cloudy, we needed a warm drink and some cake after a visit to the museum and our walking through the backstreets of little Gullholmen island. Then there was it – a café right at the “main plaza” of the main island Hörmanön: Mor Johannas Café. We went inside and oh what a delight: the cake buffet looked very inviting. We had cake, tea and coffee (latte macchiato in my case) and could warm up. I loved the decoration inside as well, rather modern but attractive paintings and a mixture of Italian style and maritime style. Oh and I also loved their little tealight holders (see photo): they looked like little ships, made of papier-mache. No need to say that we also enjoyed our cake and warm drinks. The prices were reasonable, we paid 163 SEK for tea, capucchino and latte macchiato and three cakes.
It is easy to find: from the main pier, walk past the houses at the pier and turn left at the bridge (which leads to the right, to the real Gullholmen island). It is at the tiny main plaza to the left.
Like many of the outer islands along Sweden’s west coast, Gullholmen is also car free. So the ferry is only a passenger one. It was fascinating to watch how huge amounts of goods are loaded onto the ferry, they even had a special device to load these (why didn’t I take a picture??). The ride is rather short, 15 minutes only but get off the second stop at the main pier to visit the island. The ferries run approx. every hour, although every two hours only around noon. The website below is in Swedish only, but easy to read: Måndag – Fredag = Monday – Friday, Lördag – Söndag = Saturday – Sunday.
Prices are 48 SEK one way for adults, 39 SEK for kids (age 7-19) and 96 SEK round trip for adults, 78 SEK for kids. Kids younger than 7 travel free.
To get to Tuvesvik, the ferry landing is also easy: from Ellös, a rather big village on Orust’s northwest, drive south and turn right (west) at the sign “Gullholmen”. There is a big parking lot with ticket machine a couple of metres away from the ferry landing. Tickets for the day are 40 SEK.
This is not only limited to Gullholmen but seems to be custom for many Swedish homes along the west coast: letterbox art. When we walked around on Gullholmen I transformed into a letterbox hunter – photographing these that is. I loved the creativity of the artists, most probably the owners, because they made very individual, very pretty ones with maritime motifs and mostly painted blue. Many of the parts they used seemed to me as stranded goods or material from the islands: little stones, little pieces of dried wood, parts of fishernets.
Yes, if you like good photo opportunities: go letterbox hunting on Gullholmen.
And thanks dear inhabitants of Gullholmen (and owners of the letterboxes I took photos of) for doing this, I appreciate it very much!