Etikettarkiv: Söderköping

Göta Canal: Day 2 – Söderköping to Motala

Day 2 of our cruise started in Söderköping. This is where Augusta boarded the paddle-steamer Götheborg in August 1850. And here we were, 167 years later, following her travels with her diary as a guide. She was 23 years old, and wrote in her diary that as soon as the boat was moving, she set out to assess her fellow travelers. She was not impressed; instead, she resorted to reading the recently published and popular novel, A Rumor, by Emilie Flygare-Carlen. I was of course curious about the novel and had bought an antique copy of the book and brought along just in case I needed something to read.

Of course I could not read. Our boat was gliding through the canal and giving us a close-up view of summer meadows and bright yellow fields of blooming rapeseed, groves of aspen and birch trees, and cows grazing among yellow buttercups and purple cranesbill. Instead of reading, I stood in the bow with my Nikon camera, trying to catch all the colors. Maybe Augusta would have loved that.

Local colors
Local colors

And then, out of sudden, a young dear jumped into the canal, swam across, and jumped up on the other side. Then it was almost out of sight in the tall, green grass.

In this paradise, the only man-made sound was the humming of Juno’s engine. The most amazing sound, that we all marveled over, was the repertoire of the nightingale. The little bird was still singing even though the sun had been up since 4 am. June in Sweden is amazing.

We were making good time, which created a small dilemma when we reached the little town of Norsholm a bit too early. At Norsholm, both the main railroad and the E4 highway between Stockholm and southern Sweden cross Göta Canal. The E4 bridge is very high and we hardly even noticed the bridge. But the railroad bridge has to open for canal boats and for this, timing relative to the train schedules is essential. As we were a little early, the crew took the opportunity to bring the recyclable trash to the appropriate containers close by, and to pick up some groceries as well. Augusta would have wondered about all this!

After Norsholm we entered Lake Roxen and now it was time for lunch.  An appetizer of bread with cheeses and herring was followed by plum baked farmhouse pork with black currant jelly, herb fried potatoes and gravy. We paired it with local IPA beers. The small dining room, with white linen table cloths and fresh flowers, made us remember our etiquette rules and Kerstin and I tried our best to get our wide skirts out of the way, sit straight, and not spill any black currant jelly on our dresses.

As we were waiting for the main course, we heard a loud rattling sounds of chains – was it the boat’s steering mechanism? We asked our most wonderful hostess who laughed and explained that it was the chains of the food elevator that was bringing up our plates from the pantry below. Fascinating!

We had barely finished our meal when we reached the most famous set of locks on the entire canal – the Carl Johan Staircase at Berg. But while Juno was climbing up the 7 connected locks, we had another surprise.

-I will come and meet you at Berg locks, she had said. Just look for a farm hand wearing a big black hat. I will be biking along the canal with my old rake.

The farmhand
The farmhand

Our good friend is a kindred spirit! There she was, just as promised, biking and waving! Soon we also realized that she might have called the regional newspaper (click on the link to see the video and read the article in Swedish). We were delighted to share our excitement about Augusta’s Journey with the journalist and photographer. What made it even more interesting was that we were now very close to the parish where Augusta was born (Slaka, Östergötland) – so Augusta’s Journey was really local news.

As the rest of Juno’s passengers had made an excursion to a local abbey and were not back yet, Kerstin and I strolled along the canal in the sunshine. Our parasols finally came in handy.

Photo credit: Pelle Johansson
Photo credit: Pelle Johansson

At Heda locks, we all made it back on board. Our captain treated us to a trumpet solo of a Swedish summer hymn while the cruise hostesses had picked bouquets of wildflowers for the dining room. We soon settled on deck to have our afternoon coffee while taking in the ever-changing view of the landscape.

Suddenly we noticed the first of two aqueducts.  The canal was on a bridge spanning over a highway. It must have been a sight for the drivers below to see an old canal boat move along on the bridge above! The aqueducts are fairly recent additions to Göta Canal but Thomas Telford, the Scottish engineer who was the architect of Göta Canal, had already built an aqueduct for a canal in Wales; the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is now a UNESCO world heritage site.

The next interesting lock was at Borensberg. This is the only hand-maneuvered lock left. All the other locks are electronically maneuvered by local lock tenders. As our cruise was early in the season and the canal was not yet open for private yachts and boats, we realized that Juno had a lock tender that drove ahead to each upcoming lock.

After crossing Lake Boren, we reached our stop for the night – Motala. The sky had taken on a beautiful red hue as the sun was setting. Kerstin and I decided to take a walk in this little picturesque town before ending the day with a cold IPA on deck. Another memorable day!

Juno in Motala
Juno in Motala

On the Göta Canal aboard M/S Juno

How could a morning be more peaceful than this!

The boat jolted; where were we? I opened our cabin door – the chilly, early morning air was refreshing. I looked at my watch – 5 am; it was already light outside. On deck, a few fellow passengers were waving to early joggers along the canal. The city of Söderköping was waking up.

I could feel the boat slowly being lifted; we were obviously already inside the lock. One could hear the water rushing in between the two huge doors of the lock in front of M/S Juno’s bow.

Soon we were out of the lock and moving at a slow, pleasant pace, passing by lush green trees and meadows with grazing cows. A nightingale was singing with its characteristic clicks and calls.

Göta Canal
Göta Canal

Our dresses, damp from previous day’s walk in the rain, and hung to dry on each side of the cabin door, were swaying with the slow motions of the boat. Even the long, white stockings, wet and muddy from the walk, were slowly swaying over the window.

How could a morning be more peaceful that this!

And the last day of May was as lovely as it could ever be

How can a boat climb 18.8 meters up a hill? The marvel of the 7 connected locks of Carl Johan Staircase, finished in 1818, can only be truly appreciated aboard a boat like M/S Juno that just about fits within each lock.


It takes time for the boat to enter, wait for the water level to rise, and then exit the lock. And this process is repeated for each of the 7 locks. This gave our fellow passengers a chance to walk to the historical Wreta Abbey close by. Times have not changed – this is what Augusta and her fellow passengers also did on their Göta Canal trip in 1850:

We were in the neighborhood of Wreta Abbey and our company seemed determined to disembark. I was conversing with the two Frenchmen and we marched arm in arm to the newly restored Wreta Church, which we found open. My cavaliers began to tire me with their French so I resolutely took August’s arm and led the whole company back to the locks while singing “Rest by This Source” and “La Marseillaise”. When we arrived at the last lock, the steamer had not yet arrived so we sat down in the green grass and played games. Finally, our smoking abode arrived and cheerfully we boarded the boat.

Kerstin and I did not walk along the canal arm in arm with any cavaliers. But we did walk along the canal under blooming whitebeam trees  and hawthorn bushes, and we did sing Rest by This Source by Bellman. And our wide skirts swayed as we walked and our bonnets were catching the breeze and had to be tied tighter not to fall off.

And the last day of May was as lovely as it could ever be.

Augusta’s voyage on the Göta Canal – ”one of the most beautiful and pleasant trips one can make”

In July 1850, Augusta made a memorable voyage on the Göta Canal. The reasons for Augusta’s voyage was to wave goodbye to her brother August, who was to sail from Gothenburg to Cape Town on the brig Mimer.

And of course, Augusta provides a colorful eyewitness account of her voyage.

On the outbound trip to Gothenburg, onboard the steamer Götheborg, she spends a lot of time with a Mr Cassel (possibly Knut Cassel):

“A couple of loud and gesticulating Frenchmen were entertaining a young, blond, unremarkable man in straw hat.”

“The next day, I became acquainted with all passengers and were then told that the young man in the straw hat was named Cassel and was from the Capital. Furthermore, I came to realize that he was not so unagreeable as I had first thought.”

 “The conversable Mr Cassel, who to me appeared to be a big nobody, although with a sharp mind and an incomparable talent to constantly keep his mouth moving, kept me entertained during the voyage.”

On the return trip, onboard the steamer Thomas Tellford, it is the captain who gets most of Augusta’s attention:

“Our captain’s name was Krüger, a very polite and charming young man who fulfilled all the duties of a host on his steamer. He entertained me quite agreeable during the trip, which is also one of the most beautiful and pleasant trips one can make. Before we parted in Söderköping, we agreed to dance the first waltz together at the Innocence Ball in January; let us see if that happens or not.”

But no, Augusta did not waltz with Captain Krüger in January. She didn’t travel to Stockholm until March of  that year.

And who was the charming young Captain who got Augusta to describe the Göta Canal voyage as one of the most beautiful and pleasant trip one can make?

Captain Carl Henrik Kreuger

Carl Henrik Kreuger was born 1822. He passed the marine officer examination in 1838 (only 16 years old) and sailed with foreign merchant fleets and the British fleet before becoming a lieutenant in 1846. As a young marine officer, he worked on Swedish ships during the summers: postal ships on the Baltic Sea and canal steamers on the Göta Canal. And that is how Augusta met him in the summer of 1850. He later had a stellar military career and retired in 1885 as a rear admiral.

What Augusta most likely did not find out was that Carl Henrik’s father had an interesting life story as well. Johan Henrik Kreuger was an admiral, author, and inventor. In 1822, the same year that Carl Henrik was born, Johan Henrik was asked by the Swedish government to restore Sweden’s relations with Morocco. Sweden owed Morocco 20,000 piasters for protection against pirates along the Moroccan coast. To resolve the conflict with Sultan Mulay Suleiman, Johan Henrik sailed with a squadron to Morocco. His negotiations with the Sultan were very successful; he returned to Sweden with a personal letter from the Sultan stating that the debt was forgiven.

Advertisement in the newspaper Tidningen för Wenersborgs Stad och Län, 17 juli 1850 (KB)

Top image: Gotha Canal Inauguration 1832 By Zg097qji (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons