Arriving in Stockholm to blue sunny skies and beautiful old buildings was exactly how I imagined it. The place is sensational ! After a short bus ride and quick walk from Arlanda airport we arrived at our accommodation. "Best city hostel", literally. The place is right in the middle of town with friendly staff always willing to help out.
We basically spent the short time we had there wandering around town and checking out the old city. The buildings and its surroundings have you imagining you're in a medieval movie, only full of tourists.
Early Wednesday morning we set off for Tofta beach, Gotland Island, where we are spending the week learning from and training with the volunteer lifeguards from the Swedish Lifeguard Association. Gotland is smallish island just to the east of Sweden. From Stockholm it takes about 1 hour by bus followed by a 3 hour boat ride on a big vessel called G. The views from the ship were amazing, especially as we came into dock at Visby, Gotland's main city.
We were met by Tord (Chief Lifeguard), Thomas and Christian. They were really welcoming and spoke very good english. From there we stopped into town to pick up lunch supplies from a place Maxi was quite fond of !
Arriving at Tofta lifeguarding club house we met some more of the lifeguards and got settled into our residence. All the lifeguards live in the club house for what ever period of time they can work at Tofta. This can vary due to their other work or family commitments.
At knock off time (6pm) the Tofta lifeguards always have a bath (swim in the ocean). We are part of the team for the next 6 days so we had no choice but to join them :) Now I have heard the Baltic sea can be a cold lady at times but I was pleasantly surprised to find out she was a balmy 20 degrees. PHEW !
After a warmish swim and some delicious pork steaks with Swedish cheesy potato pot we strolled on down to the beach to hang out and watch the sun set. Patients is a must if you're waiting for the sun to set over here, it doesn't go past the horizon till about 10:30pm. Although tonight, it was definitely worth the wait.
Rising and shining at stupid o'clock is normally a walk in the park for me, but... when I'm informed Mrs Baltic sea is back to her chilly best of 16 degrees, I want to pull the blankets over my head and hide. Hiding was impossible, 7:15am is wake up time, 7:30 training time. These guys (and girl) train every morning at 7:30 without fail. Wether it be CPR, First aid, Rescue Inflatable Boat (or better known to Aussies as Rubber duck or IRB), rescue techniques or just fitness either way they're there. Down to the beach we went for rescue techniques. Like the Barcelona lifeguards, the swedish lifeguards also don't use the boards as much for rescues so we also talked with them about the differences in common rescue equipment such as Tube, Board, Boat and Reel. After a light jog up and down the 1.5km beach we were ready to get wet, semi :( We did some drills together and finished off with a really fun race where only a little, actually a lot of cheating went on ! Note to Maxi: Trying to tackle Gonzo before the finish line will not help your cause.
Because the lifeguards offer their time for free, as well as free accommodation, they are fead breakfast and dinner. Brekie is buffet style at the local hostel 300m away and boy did we have an appetite ! Pretty sure they ran out of food before we got full !
We then rolled back to the clubhouse to check out the lifeguard trucks. These things are ex military trooper carriers from the 1960's which have been converted into ambulances. They're pretty much the coolest things I have ever seen ! We were given the introductory tour of the Tofta area and even got a chance behind the wheel.
After lunch we had a visit by some kids from a disability school in Stockholm. They came to see how the lifeguards work, see some mock rescues and play some games. The visit was a huge success with both lifeguard services working together to show them all a great time !
6pm rolled around pretty quick and that means "bath in the ocean" time. Only, difference between yesterday and today was it was raining, cold and the water had dropped another a thousand degrees. *WARNING* the below video may contain some nudity.
Tomorrow both lifeguard services are teaming up with the Swedish helicopter rescue guys to do some pick up training out in the Baltic sea. Something tells me todays water temps were a walk in the park !
Shrink you later :)