Silent Sunday on the Gota Canal

The Göta Canal which links Sweden’s two cities Stockholm and Gothenburg, runs through the heart of Sweden. A one-way trip on one of the historic ships that plies the route takes 6 days; it is like a journey into another world.

Cruising through archipelagos with thousands of small islands, one river, eight lakes, two seas and three canals with 66 locks (in one case ascending 91 metres) the ship makes several stops at places of interest along the way.

The ships used were built between 1874 and 1831 and are considered historically important. Furnished in a period style there is neither radio nor TV on board any of the ships, and the use of mobile phones is discouraged. Between 40-50 guests are accommodated in small cabins about the size of a sleeping compartment on a train with bunk beds and a wash basin with hot ad cold water. Communal showers only, I’m afraid, but the food makes up for it.

Fresh lake fish every day, game from the forest, the freshest of vegetables and saladings, lots of the berries for which Scandinavia is famous and of course that marvellous coffee and cake.

This journey along one of the world’s great canals is an experience like no other but is only available during the summer months. And in those cabins you really get to experience what travelling was like in the 19th century on board these ships that carried immigrants from rural Sweden out to America.

The 190 kilometres of the Göta Canal were dug out by hand between 1810 and 1832 and it runs from Sjötorp in the west to Mem in the east, it is three metres deep and approximately 14 metres wide.