GOTA CANAL, SWEDEN — The photograph above was taken at close to midnight last night. Sweden’s long summer days imbue our cruise with an aesthetic element that is hard to convey in words.
The sunlight, and the canvas on which it displays its rich colors, makes it hard to go to sleep at night. Sure, our ship has blinds that darken the room, but who wants to miss the spectacle of nature happening through the threshold of our stateroom door?
Today is another idyllic day on the Gota Canal, gorgeous, with brilliant blue skies, cotton-ball clouds and fields of wildflowers on either side of the ship as Juno makes her way along the canal through forests and past charming Swedish villages.
We had quite a show last night. Juno’s belly ran aground while transiting a bend of the canal as we were having dinner. The captain explained our predicament and said that we needed more water to lift the ship, so he phoned someone, a lock-keeper presumably, to release water from the locks upstream. His phone call worked, and we were soon under way.
At the next lock, however, the captain thought it prudent to have a diver check the propeller, which had been eating mud as Juno struggled to loosen herself from the canal bottom. One of the crew members slipped on a wet suit and dove in to remove a few items that had wrapped around the propellor, nothing significant, but enough to keep us entertained for 15 minutes or so. We all applauded when the young man once again stood ashore and toweled himself dry.
This morning, we had an early breakfast and joined an included guided tour of Karlsborg Fortress, built nearly 200 years ago but made obsolete for defense shortly after becoming operational. The tour was well-done, with the use of multimedia and special effects, and knowledgeable English-speaking guides.
After sailing from Karlsborg, Ingemar, our cruise director, told us to be on deck for something we would not want to miss at the next lock. There, at Forsvik, a Swedish spiritual group greeted our ship with flowers and song. It was a sweet gesture, and the greeting is extended each time a ship passes, I suppose.
We were at the lock for a good 10 minutes, the captain intent on safely maneuvering Juno through, while we enjoyed the show and warm hospitality from our serenaders ashore.