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.
~Tina, fondly remembering
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