Sailing 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:
M/S Marianne on Lake Vänern:
Lake 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:
Left: The crew on the bridge – Right: A lighthouse by an Iceland
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:
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:
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).
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:
Left: Dutch. German, Danish and Swedish – Right: Even Russian
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.