We were lucky enough to visit Sweden for the first time last summer and friends took us to visit the Gota Canal near the little university town of Linkoping which lies about halfway between Gothenburg at the North Sea in the west to the country’s capital Stockholm in the east at the Baltic. It was perhaps because it was raining and the midges were biting but I experienced one of those puzzling ‘I’ve been here before’ moments. It all looked very familiar.
My perplexity was relieved by our guide who recognising we were Scots explained how, when built, the canal had been modelled on the Caledonian Canal and that Thomas Telford had
overseen elements of the design. Mystery solved! We were not in Fort William. It has to recognised however that this canal at 120 miles long and with over 60 locks is a substantially
bigger undertaking compared to its Scots sister.
The Gota Canal actually links Gothenberg and Stockholm and it is possible to cruise its length following one of the most remarkable waterways in Europe. The journey is taken at an utterly relaxed pace, giving holidaymakers the opportunity to unwind and enjoy the scenery and take in a number of excursions along the way.
Of course there is also the possibility of spending time at either end in both Gothenburg and Stockholm. The capital, Stockholm, is a particularly elegant city and has a remarkably clean and fresh feel to it. Spread across 14 islands, the perfect way to see the city is by boat and to explore the history of Gamla Stan, the oldest part of Stockholm. The Vasa Warship Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scandinavia. The Nordic Museum, the Royal Palace and the City Hall are also well worth a visit.
At the opposite side of the country lies Gothenburg, Sweden’s primary port which is bursting with a wealth of history and culture and where there is a surprising level of Scottish influence such as the prestigious Chalmers University. Gothenburg is perhaps most notable in Sweden for its gastronomy. A diverse range of restaurants can be found all over the city, and its coastal location is apparent in the number of seafood dishes on the menus. A sight also not to be missed is the vibrant fish market on the harbour.
For much more information on the Gota Canal please see www.gotakanal.se