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Peace and Tranquillity in Sweden
If it wasn’t for my brother moving to Falkenberg, I probably would never have known it existed. A charming seaside town on Sweden’s west coast, it offers a diverse landscape of outstanding natural beauty. Here you can find a beautiful coastline with miles of beaches, a fertile farming landscape, hilly countryside and beautiful rich green forests.
When I first visited back in January 2002, it was during the quietest time of the year. My first impression was that it was a nice sleepy little town without many inhabitants, and as it was quite foggy and dark, I couldn’t see the town in all its glory. However, everyone I met told me to return in the summer because that’s when the town comes alive. And guess what, they were right, and I’ve been going back ever since.
This summer I visited in the middle of July, during the height of the tourist season. The weather was quite beautiful with lots of blue skies, warm temperatures (although at times, a little too hot) and nice sunshine.
To get to Falkenberg I had to fly to Gothenburg City Airport with Ryanair from Stansted. I then caught a train to Falkenberg from Gothenburg Central Station (which took about an hour). My brother met me at the station and after a warm hug (I couldn’t believe how much I had missed), we headed down the road to his flat as this was where I would be staying. It felt great to be back, and as I looked at the familiar wooden houses, all painted in their own unique fairy style, with bright shades of yellow, red and blue, it felt like I wouldn’t never been away. There is no rubbish on the streets here and everything is so clean and tidy. It’s great to see people taking pride in where they live and taking good care of it. This is definitely one of the things I love about Sweden. Another thing is, we can’t smell any pollution. Not in this town anyway.
Falkenberg means ‘Falcon Mountain’ and the town got its name from the falcons that were once hunted here. It has a history that goes back to the middle ages. Surrounding the town are acres of countryside and woodland as well as lots of farmland. The town itself has a population of around 30,000, and the immediate surroundings hold around another 15,000 people. People have lived in the vicinity of Falkenberg for some time, and it has been recognized as a city since around 1432.
In the early 19th century, Sir Humphrey Davy, the inventor of the miner’s safety lamp, visited the town after hearing of the excellent fly fishing. Then followed a succession of wealthy English compatriots and because of this many Falkenbergers speak excellent English. A London lawyer called William Wilkinson then wrote a book about the experience, Days In Falkenberg (1894). The English influence still exists today as a classic red British telephone box is located in the center of the town.
In the evening we went for a walk around the town. Walking here is such a pleasure, especially through the beautiful Gamla Stan (Old Town) where the cobbled lanes, twelfth century Sant Laurentii Kyrka (church) and well-maintained cottages made me feel like I had stepped back in time. This area is so quiet and peaceful, with the churchyard giving it an eerie feel.
We made our way towards the river and then walked along the eighteenth century Tullbron (the toll bridge), passing many tourists and cyclists along the way. In Sweden there are bicycles everywhere, so it is advisable to take special care when walking along the pavement. Make sure you stay out of the cycle lanes.
The Ätran River is one of the best in Sweden for salmon fishing and has beautiful footpaths along both banks, with even more trees on one side. Down by the bridge is the Falkenberg Museum, which shows the development of the region through the ages. It is located in an old grain warehouse. There are also some other interesting museums around the town, such as a local museum on St Lars Kyrkogatan, which has collections tracing the history of the town up to 1900 and the Falkenberg Fotomuseum on Sandgatan which covers the history of photography with a unique collection of cameras and photographs.
Falkenberg is also known for its long sandy beaches, especially Skea Strand. Very clean, it is about fifteen minutes’ walk from the town and attracts thousands of tourists every summer. There are also a number of restaurants and bars along the shores and colorful little beach huts.
There are a variety of shops in town where you can get great deals, gifts and souvenirs. And when you want a break from all the shopping there are plenty of cozy continental cafes to sit back and enjoy a coffee in this beautiful relaxed town.
Surprisingly, for such a quiet town, Falkenberg has a lively nightlife with some very fine restaurants and pubs that have live music and events almost every night. Every time I visit, it’s amazing how I always discover something new. On Saturday night while walking around the town we heard music coming from across the river. Walking over the bridge I was delighted to see that it was the ‘Falkenbergs Jazzdagar’, a jazz and blues festival, held in the middle of July every year since 1989 and organized by ‘Falkenbergs Jazz-och Bluesförening’ (a Jazz and Falkenberg Blues).
The festival takes place in the courtyard of Hotel Hvitan ‘Värdshuset Hwitan’, just down on the banks of the river Ätran. As I sat listening to the sound of the electric guitar reverberating over the courtyard and the river, watching the seagulls fly overhead on a warm evening, the thought that I would soon be returning to the hustle and bustle of London made my heart sink. . But there’s always next year I told myself. Then again, why don’t I move here too?
Falkenberg offers a great alternative to the usual overcrowded European holiday spots. I recommend you visit at least once in your life. You won’t be disappointed. Indeed, it is the perfect holiday destination. Try it and see.
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#Peace #Tranquillity #Sweden