Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G ~ Göta Kanal, A Favorite Childhood Vacation Spot #atozchallenge


All Aboard! "It's Very Swedish..." a train on a cultural journey through Sweden, exploring the differences big and small between American and Swedish culture.

***
I fondly remember vacations as a child to a town called Sjötorp, which sits on the edge of one of Sweden's great lakes, Vänern.  This small town had the locks for entering Göta Kanal, the canal that if followed to its end, would take you to Stockholm, on the East Coast of Sweden.

Visiting there was a magical time, staying in the house on the shore of the lake.  My Farfar's cousin's Dad (yeah, get Farfar right and you get a Gold Medal, not expecting you to follow the whole geneology) was a sluss vakt - a lock watchman.

You do know what locks are, right?  Basically, it's a series of chambers that fill and empty with water to lift a ship from lake level to canal level.  Here's wiki to explain it because Lucy doesn't have enough words for the 'splaining...

I loved staying there for many reasons.  One was of course the swimming right out of the backyard...and back in those days, you didn't have to get sunscreened, and wait for your parents to come watch you, you could just say, "I'm going swimming where's my suit?" and go. (Of course, if you were under about 6, suits weren't worn...)

Such freedom.  There were also rowboats, and a dock to jump off of, and it was kid paradise.

It was also paradise for girls visiting their grandparents for the summer - independence and trust and privileges and unlimited fun. Swissie and I would go visit Farmor and Farfar on our own - unaccompanied minors - almost every summer after moving to America, and a highlight was the visit to Sjötorp.  

They had a former fishing tool/storage shack type place overhanging the lake that they fabulously remodeled into a guest house. Once Swissie and I were old enough, we got to stay there, and not in the big house with all the adults.  I think you can imagine what an 11 and 14 year old might do...stay up all night, go swimming in the dark...tell secrets...and no one was the wiser.  

I do also have very fond memories of Farmor and Farfar patiently and lovingly explaining how locks worked, and I guess that was good training for me now that I'm married to The Engineer.

The Swede also spent summer vacations there as a child, and has dug up some vintage shots for your enjoyment.



This is my dad, The Swede, second from right, with friends and cousins helping open the lock.  They walked in circles to turn the mechanism which accomplished this.  


I find this picture a treasure.  Before they had a car to make the trip from Göteborg to Sjötorp, The Swede and his parents traveled by ship up Göta Älv (the Göta River) to the big lake Vänern, then got off where Göta Kanal began in Sjötorp.  That is my Farmor, and The Swede, enjoying the journey.

I hope you're enjoying your train ride through Swedish culture.

Do you have a favorite vacation spot from your childhood?  Do you know how canal locks work?  Have you ever been swimming in the dark?

~Tina, fondly remembering 


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31 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tina - I love finding out more about your Swedish life and holidays are the time to enjoy life to the full and to learn .. how lucky you were - and so many memories .. especially those unaccompanied trips out to the remodelled guest house ..

As you might guess - I'd say Cornwall .. and there's plenty on the blog to cover this ..

Hope all is going well .. cheers Hilary

CA Heaven said...

When I was a kid in the 1970s, we went on summer vacations around the lake Vänern. I may have seen you on the beach >:)

Cold As Heaven

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The great outdoors with the great indoors - I could've handled that.
See, my parents liked to go camping. And that's camping with a trailer. No bathroom or shower unless we stayed at a campground that had facilities. Needless to say, I don't like camping...
Farfar is your grandfather, but I don't remember beyond that...

P V Ariel said...

Hi Tina,
Yet another installment of lovely and interesting informations with eye capturing pics
Thanks for sharing
Best
Phil

Liz said...

Ah, we never went on holiday when I was a child!

I would have loved Sweden, and aim to visit one day - easier from the UK!

I do know what a lock is though, I have a friend with a narrowboat, and I did go on a boating holiday on the canals as a teenager with other teenagers. That probably wouldn't happen nowadays either! 'elf and safety - no lifebelts!

And one of us nearly died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the loo, we had to leave the door open after that...

Happy days!

~Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com A-Zer!

JoJo said...

It sounds like a fantastic place to visit esp as a carefree kid! We didn't really have vacations when I was a kid, more like staycations b/c my dad was self employed. When he did take time off we went to Yonkers NY to visit the relatives. There were 2 trips to Disney when I was a kid, 1 to Niagara Falls. That's about it. I know about locks from learning about them in school, like Panama Canal's and the Soo Locks up on the Great Lakes. I live near the world's longest lock-less Canal.

Pat Garcia said...

Hi,

I enjoyed reading your post. I have not yet had the chance to visit Sweden, but I would love to. I met a couple from there and often talked about their homeland.

Shalom.
Patricia (visiting from A to Z Blog Challenge)

Kim Van Sickler said...

Hi Tina! So glad I stopped by. What perfect childhood memories: swimming, a modicum of independence, enjoying the great outdoors, action, family. All the elements for idyllic childhood experiences. I was so excited to see that you are intimately familiar with canals! My A to Z posts are all about an orphaned muleskinner on the Ohio Canal in 1844. I did a lot of research on locks!

Fanny Barnes Thornton said...

I haven't a clue how canal locks work, but I do like to watch them operating.
I don't have many holiday memories from my childhood but watching the locks on the Thames (near Marlow) is one of them.
I always long to be in and around the Lake District since I was brought up there. We all like to get back to our roots.
Thank you for joining my blog, Tina.

Daidri Smythe said...

Hi Tina... very fun to learn more about locks. I remember my Dad talking about them when I was young but can't say I really understood them. I have never gone swimming in the dark but it sounds exciting. You have some great childhood memories!

Melanie Schulz said...

That picture is a treasure.

Sandy said...

Nice memories, love the old pictures. We didn't travel much when I was a kid, but we do go camping and I too have fond memories.

Traveling Suitcase A-Z

Elizabeth Seckman said...

What a lovely story! I had that sort of childhood too (you know the kind where parents just shuffled you out of the house with the only rule being to be home by dark). It was a good time. An age before the 24 hour news cycle was available to scare the daylights out of all of us. Now, I have chest pains drinking from a plastic cup.

Darla Sue Dollman said...

Another great post! Yes, I do have a memory. My parents loved camping. My father even invented special camping equipment and devices--with six people in our family he'd do anything to make life easier on my mother at dinner time! One year we went to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs and Mesa Verde. We watched the dances and climbed the cliff and all around the ruins. That was 45 years ago and I don't know if they even allow people that close anymore, but I remember every day as if it happened this morning. That trip inspired a lifetime of study of the American Old West. Great memories--thank you!

Kathe W. said...

I have fond memories of going camping with my parents! Thanks for sharing your fun stories!

DAVID WALSTON said...

Wow we are indeed receiving an education! We always went to Graceland to visit Elvis.

Andrew Leon said...

What I realize most any time I or my wife or, well, anyone our age starts talking about his/her childhood is that it's amazing any of us lived through it. I mean, do you know how many times I was chased by cottonmouths?

Jo said...

As I lived on a boat for a large part of my life, I have been through more locks than you can shake a stick at and yes, we used to love helping to open some of them. Went through the Kiel Canal once, didn't get to work that lock though LOL.

Summers were so much freer in those days. But then I think we were more responsible in those days too. Love the picture of Farmor and the Swede sailing up to the lake.

M. J. Joachim said...

It's quite an amazing journey. The old pics add so much to the story. You have such fond memories of Sweden, and it's really nice that you're sharing them with us.

M. J.
A - Z Co-Host
http://mjjoachim.blogspot.com
http://effectivelyhuman.blogspot.com
http://lotsofcrochetstitches.blogspot.com

Andrea said...

(father's father...medal please) We do have some working locks around here, but I haven't been boating near one in over 20 years (yikes)

tinadchayes said...

Your posts make Sweden sound like a wonderful place! It must have been so much fun visiting there. :)

Brian Miller said...

most of my childhood vacations were at topsail island....we used to go there every year...do people still do that?

we have some old locks not too far from the house...we go down there to hike every summer

Fe said...

:) Still fabulous. Thanks...

bemuzin.com said...

Sweet memory, Tina. The freedom and exploration of our childhoods is something that makes me glad I was young during those years.

lifeaftercaregiving said...

Hi Tina,
My favorite childhood vacation spot was Lake Ouachita in Arkansas. Of course, it's about the only place we ever went! :) I've seen locks work on both the Ohio and Arkansas rivers--quite an interesting process. And yes, I've been swimming in the dark. In fact, I almost drowned in the Gulf of Mexico after dark. Luckily my Dad caught me before I was swept away. Thanks for sharing your memories.
Blessings,
Linda

Ava Quinn said...

It does sound like a child's paradise! :)

Happy atoz!

Mary Aalgaard said...

Those old photos are a treasure, and such fascinating stories to go with them!
Play off the Page

Yvonne Ventresca said...

Thanks for sharing your memories. We used to go to Lake George, NY in the summer with my family. Not quite as much independence as you had, but still fun!

Yvonne

Cecilia said...

I enjoyed your post. I only know three Swedish words because my son stayed in Sweden as an exchange student. I would love to visit some day. thank you

Sheena-kay Graham said...

So much Swedish fun this challenge has been.

amanda lee said...

What a wonderful post! Those pictures are treasures. We have great memories of our canal vacation in England when the kids were younger. We intentionally chose the route with the most locks so the kids would have lots of opportunity to burn off energy! Those locks operated by pulling back and forth on the lever(like a ratchet, if you will), rather than going round and round.