Sailing Vänern from Mariestad to Sjötorp and Göta Canal

Sailing Vanern from Mariestad to Sjötorp #1Sailing with M/S Marianne from Mariestad, known as The Pearl of Lake Vänern, to Sjötorp (the beginning or end of Göta Canal), is on our top 10 must do list for summer vacation. We often save this adventure for when we have guests visiting us at our vacation home like last year with my FIL (click to read the story) and this week with my sister and parents. As always with my Nokia N8 mobile phone at hand, I tried my best to capture some highlights from the tour + stops and I gladly share it with you.
Let’s start with some passengers you might recognize on board, leaving the harbour of our vacation town, Mariestad:
Sailing Vanern from Mariestad to Sjotorp #5
M/S Marianne on Lake Vänern:
Sailing Vanern from Mariestad to Sjotorp #4Lake Vänern is Sweden’s largest inland body of water, and the fourth largest in Europe. There are more than one hundred tributaries, the main ones flowing into the northern part. Lake Vänern drains into the Kattegat Sea (the Atlantic) via the Gota River and the combined area of these two bodies cover 10% of the total area of Sweden. About 139 Km (80 miles) long and 70 Km (43 miles) wide, it is a significant cruising area in itself, with numerous guest harbours and natural harbours with wonderful sand beaches.
The charming M/S Marianne motor ship built in 1897 and it’s enthusiastic crew from the association taking care of this treasure set you in the right mood and take outdoors recreation into a new dimension:
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Left: The crew on the bridge – Right: A lighthouse by an Iceland
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Scenery from the boat: On shore and a bridge (Torsö)

Mariestad lives up to its nick name as “Pearl of Lake Vänern“. It’s the most evocative stopover among the lake towns, known both for its architecture and as a center for exploring the district. It’s famous for the many well-preserved old structures in Gamla Stan (or Old Town), including one building from the 17th century, all of which have survived despite several widespread town fires. The town founded in 1583 lies on the eastern shore of Lake Vänern, taking its name from Maria von Pfaltz, the first wife of Duke Karl (later Karl IX). He also build the dome church, an icon and landmark, easy to spot on our boat trip:
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Sjötorp and Göta Canal:
About 10 miles north of Mariestad, at the Göta exit, we arrive at the village Sjötorp. This is the end (or beginning) of the Göta Canal, and the gateway to Lake Vänern:
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There are small charming shops by the locks, and a canal museum featuring tools used to dig the canal in the 1800s, a large collection of outboard motors, but probably the most interesting is a collection of items retrieved from the canal (including an old model mobile phone).
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Shops with ice cream, refreshments, smoked seafood and handcrafts.

The Göta Canal is one of the most remarkable waterways in the world and historically an important communication links between the inland industrial Sweden and the rest of the world. It’s 190 km long, dug out by hand between 1810 and 1832 by some 58 000 soldiers removing 300 000 cubic meters of rock and earth in order to create the three-meter deep and 14-metre wide canal. The construction foreman and certainly the one who promoted the project most strongly was Baltzar von Platen.
Today it is little used for trade but more and more by tourists who are using the canal. Since you can enter from both Stockholm and Göteborg (connection from the Atlantic ocean), they represent all kinds of nationalities:
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Left: Dutch. German, Danish and Swedish – Right: Even Russian
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Boats in a lock

A trip like this on M/S Marianne gives our guests a view of our summer paradise in a nutshell. One experiences the city and the country, the lake and canal, not to mention the culture and the history of the Mariestad area. It has the additional bonus of being a recreational day with a 2 hour trip on the water and a chance to explore the local area.

Tour de France success for Boasson Hagen and Thor Hushovd from Norway

Another good Tour de France day for Norway; Edvald Boasson Hagen won his first ever stage of the Tour and Thor Hushovd remains in the Yellow Jersey for the 6th day in the row! Even more, looking at general classification after stage 6: #1: T. Hushovd and #8: E. B. Hagen – Who can ask for more? – I mean, there aren’t more than two cyclists from Norway in the Tour this year : -)
The world is surprised & impressed and the Norwegians are excited, thrilled and turned nuts this afternoon – It’s all over the news tonight and since my blog is about Norway; our culture, traditions and habits, it would have been a disgrace not to make a post about these two Norwegian Vikings and what they have achieved today:

Thor Hushovd (18 January 1978) riding for Garmin-Cervélo, is up until this year known for sprinting and time trialing and is the 2010 Norwegian and World Road Champion. Thor is now the first Norwegian to lead the Tour de France, and first Scandinavian to win the road race in cycling world road championship. He also won the Green jersey in 2005 and 2009.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (17 May 1987) also considered as one of the biggest rising talents in the sport, being ranked as #3 in the world by UCI as of 31 August 2009. Edvald is the Norwegian Time Trial Champion and now rides for the UCI ProTour team; Team Sky.

I know they have way to go – more than two weeks left of the Tour – but right now, the Norwegians takes one day or stage or even both the yellow and green jersey at the time. I guess you find it wise for a nation with only two participants on this years Tour? And that you can imagine that it taste sooooooo good – today! : -)

Norway 4th of July celebration in Oslo Vigeland Park

4th of July in Oslo Vigeland Park #5The 26th annual American Independence Day 4th of July celebration in Oslo’s Vigeland Frogner Park was a grand success! The American Coordinating Council of Norway (ACCN) arranges this celebration every year and we just love to participate. Like Norway’s Constitution Day the 17th of May, a national holiday is in many ways like a family reunion. Then it’s easy to imagine – living abroad – the feeling of being homesick on such a day, but those who were in Frogner Park really seemed to consider Oslo their “home away from home”. No wonder when you look at the keywords in the invitation: Great Food – Family Entertainment – Crafts – Book Sale – Bring Your Friends – Fun for everyone – Raffle with fantastic prizes including 6 Round-Trip tickets to the U.S.
Or if you look at the girls in the top left who willingly posed when I was hunting for some “Typical Americans” ; -)

So my American wife and I were there and with my Nokia N8 at hand, I’ll gladly share some highlights with you – starting at the grand opening on the stage (click pic to bigify):
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Left: Marine honour guard presenting the American flag – Right: Guest of honour: deputy mayor Mrs. Aud Kvalbein gives her speech.
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Diverse booths were set up giving information and special offers to Americans abroad and Norwegians as well, like this one manned by the US Embassy. The opening ceremony was begun with a speech by the American Ambassador to Norway, Barry White (beside him is his wife Eleanor) and of course I had to greet him and thank him for sharing one of his lovely citizens with me!!
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American food feast:
Before I show you some photos, here is the menu: Hamburgers • Hotdogs • BBQ • Chili • Ice Cream • Yogurt • American Lutheran Church manned the Coca Cola stand • American Women’s Club dished up lots of great America cookies • Sons of Norway offered waffles & sloppy Joes (not together thankfully) • Plus lots more goodies to feast on! We stood in the very long line for homemade, handmade freshly grilled cheeseburgers – fantastic!
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Hamburgers left – sloppy Joes right
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Cookies and ice tea

Street Cars Norway:
Once again this year, Street Cars Norway had an exhibition behind the stage and Thomas Følling (SCNs President) awarded prizes in 7 categories – Lucky one: a place in Oslo Motor Show 2011 in October!
An impressive exhibition I would say and quite American too – or what do you think:
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First a panoramic view – then: …….

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…… some of the beauties in details ; -)
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The atmosphere was truly an American 4th of July celebration with all the trimmings. There were lots of happy families everywhere with good music and good food, plus fun for all ages. It was apparent that many American families feel themselves at home in Oslo. We finished off the day in our traditional way with Diane’s grilled ribs, corn on the cob and lots of grilled vegetables. I want to wish all my American friends and family a Very Happy 4th of July!

Midsummer and St. Hans with Hans-Erik Husby as Cornelis in Oslo

Summer Solstice, St John’s or St. Hans or St Mark’s Eve, Cornelis Vreeswijk and Jesus Christ Superstar in a long Norwegian summer night, is a perfect combination for a midsummer celebration. In Oslo (60° North) we have 19 hours daylight and placed as close to the Arctic Circle, it doesn’t actually get dark at all. This calls of course for a joyously celebration, in Norway. St Hans Eve (Sant Hans aften) is normally celebrated around a bonfire; done to bring prosperity and luck as well as protect the home on what was believed to be the longest day of the year. My wife and I celebrated in a more cultural way this year – at a concert at Akershus Fortress called:

In the Light of Cornelis:
Akershus Fortress in Oslo Norway #1Cornelis Vreswijk (1937 – ’87) is undoubtedly one of Scandinavia’s greatest musical artists of all time and has become relevant again from the movie “Cornelis“. Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby played the role of the legendary Swedish troubadour in the film, and at Midsummer night Husby together with Vreswijk’s son Jack, held a concert using the music from the movie and interpret some of his songs in their own way. It took place in a historical and geographical landmark on Oslo harbor, at Akershus Fortress (see pic to the left) built in the 1600s. The location, surroundings, architecture and atmosphere on a long summer night in Oslo, were perfect. This panoramic photo, taken with my Nokia N8, is from about 10PM:
H-E D. Husby singing In the light of Cornelis #1
There were beautiful arrangements with acoustic guitars, strings and subdued production and I could not resist trying to capture some of this magic moment with my Nokia – with photos and even some movies – to share with you. I hope you enjoy the scenery and music in the edited movie – even if the language is Swedish – although since Husby is in fact Norwegian, some Swedes may object to that last statement ;- )

From Jesus to Cornelis:
Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby has gone from hell to heaven and back again. From the time he was front figure and singer of Turboneger, under the name Hank von Helvete, singing hard rock and struggling with drug addiction, until he went clean and checked himself into a rehab clinic in Sweden. He then made a strong come back in the role of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. Now he meets again another kind of underground when he debuted in the film role as the beloved, Swedish-Dutch troubadour Cornelis Vreeswijk:
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Left: Husby after the concert – Right: Husby in Jesus Christ Superstar

Cornelis came from Holland to Sweden at the age of 12 years. He bought his first guitar in 1954 and released his first album – Ballader och Oförskämdheter – in 1964, including the famous Ballad of Frederick Åkare and Cecilia Lind. His life was influenced by alcoholism, drug use, multiple marriages, imprisonment and economic problems, as well as a brilliant musical career. He is considered one of Sweden’s greatest poets and artists, in line with Carl Michael Bellmann and Evert Taube.
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Left: Hans.Erik and Jack – Right: Capture from my movie
Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby’s interpretation of Cornealis’ music was an interesting combination of the two artists, both nostalgic in the old melodies, and new in the at times more rocking presentation of the music. Since we have seen Husby in both rolls, as Jesus Christ superstar and Cornealis it was interesting to compare these two rolls and forms, and we enjoy his versatility and changeability from different types of music. The setting at Akeshus Fortress was the top of the cream in this St. Hansaften celebration and the perfect ambiance for a summer concert on one of the longest days of the year.

OsloBG at Oscarsborg Fortress and Oslo Medieval Park

The Oslo Blog Gathering exploring Norway and our capital’s architecture, culture, traditions and history – was a thrill and an adventure for about 30 Social Media active participants from all over the world. Some had been to blog meetings before, while other had only met friends in Blogsphere so far. One thing is for sure this blog gathering developed some real friendships which will last for a lifetime. So it’s a bit sad to sum it up and tell about the last day, however it also created new magical moments to remember in the future and I gladly share them with you.

The grand historic Oscarsborg Fortress:
OsloBG2010 at RennyBAMy wife DianeCA. invited those who wanted to join her for a trip to Oscarsborg Fortress. It stands on Kaholmene in the Drøbak Strait and has been there for more than 350 years. Build as a Coastal fortress in the years 1643-1644, its name was given by royal resolution on August 23, 1855 after a visit by the Swedish/Norwegian King Oscar 1.

Oscarsborg is best known for the sinking of the German battleship “Blücher” on the 9th of April 1940, WW2, and one can still get a whiff of the creosote (lignite tar) from the battleship. So the Fortress was military territory until 2003, but then made a publicly available resort island. We can tell you that many local families enjoy taking the boat out to the island fortress and having an enjoyable afternoon on the scenic grounds and visiting the charming seaside café.

Champagne on historical ground:
The Medieval Park in the Old City of Oslo (called Bjørvika) is the largest contiguous area of preserved ruins from the Middle Ages. It was here that the urbanization of Oslo started around the year 1000. In the 1300s there were six churches, three monasteries, royal residence and the bishop’s residence in this small urban society.

Surrounding the ruins is now a park and the old coastal line is recreated as it was in the middle ages by the creation of a water table to provide parkland quality and character. Before the grand finale in the evening, TorAa suggested this place as the perfect surroundings for popping the cork and toasting a successful gathering:
OsloBG at Medieval Park #1

Through Exhibitions and Events the park already communicates experiences, stimulating activities and even more: provides knowledge about Oslo City’s origins, and the role of Oslo as the capital and the Norwegian Middle Ages. The most famous yearly event is The Øya Music Festival, so we where in the right place to have a party:
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The grand finale celebration:
Three hectic days (and nights) were coming to an to end but we weren’t ready to give up without a fight, or rather a party. My wife DianeCA and I were exhausted, but we still had a jolly good time with the whole gang at Dubliner Folk Pub. It was a mixed feeling of sadness for having to say farewell, but also the loud buzzing and talking about all the excitement we had experienced. Nobody wanted to go home and all had a lot more they wished to see and do. I was thinking: All in all, many good reasons to come back:
OsloBG Grand Final at Dubliner #1

Lawrence aka BeaverBush came up with the party idea and made the reservations for us at the pub. He was so nice and gave me a bottle of very nice champagne on behalf of all the participants. I was happy, thankful and proud of course that all went so well. It was hard to make a small thank you speech – very emotional for me:
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Celebrating the Mayor’s birthday in the City Hall:
I have decided to end the report from OsloBG with the most Magic Moment of all: the opening ceremony as the reception by the Mayor in Oslo City Hall. Being aware of that the Mayor had his birthday that very day, I’d asked the participants to bring a small gift from their homeland to give to him. My wife had my Nokia X6 mobile phone, to capture the moment:

My wife DianeCA and I have worked hard on planning OsloBG for over one year and now that our mission is accomplished and my dream has come true, I want to thank everyone again who participated. We made the plan and invited the guests, but it was really each and every OsloBG participant who made the event what it was. Everyone played a key roll and it would not have been the same without them!
So far, all their posts about OsloBG is collected at the gatherings guest list. I will soon make a post to present all of them – so stay tuned!