Nauru Travel Diary

From Houston to Sydney 2013

From Houston

to Sydney



We left Gothenburg a little later than expected this morning and headed eastwards.  Our original aim was to cross from the west to the east coast of Sweden, and then head inland again to our destination for this evening, the small town of Vadstena.  As the day progressed, our plans changed, partly because we spent longer exploring places than we had expected, and partly because the weather deteriorated into a fairly severe thunderstorm in the later afternoon.

Our first stop as we headed east was the town of Jönköping, a city with 90,000 inhabitants located at the southern end of Vättern, Sweden’s second largest lake.  Reflecting its history as an old trading centre and market place (which is the meaning of the now archaic Swedish word “köping”), Jönköping has a very picturesque old market square – quite small, but just large enough to be surrounded by several centuries-old public buildings.

We spent a little over half an hour in Jönköping, and then drove further east to our next stop, the small town of Eksjö.  Eksjö has a population of less than 10,000 people, but despite its small size (and the heavily overcast conditions), we found it hard to tear ourselves away once we started exploring its streets.

The history of Eksjö dates back to the 14th century.  It has suffered from periodic fires over the centuries, some of them the result of attacks during various wars.  The town has therefore been re-built several times, though always using timber in its distinctive architectural style.  Although most of Eksjö’s present-day buildings are the result of re-building after the fire of 1856 that destroyed half the town, many of the buildings in the old northern part of the town still date from the town’s reconstruction in 1568; this is the part of the town where we spent our time exploring this afternoon.

The photos probably describe the buildings and the streetscape better than any description in words.  For us, the combination of cobble-stone streets, old timber buildings with either pastel colours or rich red-brown paint, the quaint bridges and the beautiful little gardens made for compelling exploring.  In the end, we spent almost two hours exploring Eksjö.

By the time we had finished walking around the town, dark storm clouds were gathering overhead.  Therefore, we decided to postpone the planned drive across to the east coast until tomorrow and head northwards to Vadstena, a small town where we had booked accommodation for this evening.

This was a good decision.  Soon after we started driving, the skies darkened even further and we soon found ourselves in a fierce thunderstorm with chain lightning and torrential rainfall.  This slowed our driving, but we still managed to arrive in Vadstena, which was about 100 kilometres north of Eksjö, at a little after 6 pm.

With a population of just 5,600 people, Vadstena is even smaller than Eksjö.  However, it has a significant place in Sweden’s history, and its castle, monastery, and several old public buildings, attest to its glorious past.

The skies cleared temporarily soon after we arrived in Vadstena, so Di and I decided to take a short walk around the castle and the old town.  In the still quiet of the afternoon, everything was basked in golden afternoon sunshine, and the experience of walking around the water’s edge, through the castle and past the old buildings was magical.

However, the clouds soon returned, so we decided to terminate our explorations and have dinner at one of the streetside restaurants in the main street of the old town.  Sitting beside the street, having dinner and watching the passing parade of people, surrounded by magnificent old buildings, was a great way to conclude the day’s travels.

Day 32 - Gothenburg to Vadstena


6 August 2013