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The Norway 2012 Journal #1
                                             
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As is often the norm at Starry Towers this trip was suggested to me at very short-notice, it's The Husband's way.  It was the dawn of a new year, January the 1st, the afternoon.  He was due to return to work one way or another, he decided on a boat type way and did I want to go too?  Then he nipped out for a half hour, when he came back I was packing my case...surprisingly ladies this was to go with him, not to leave him.
mmm
  
 
  
  
 Leaving Scotland 02/01/12
Sunny D to Tananger
We packed up the Range Rover with the usuals and all sorts of survival equipment, left Sunny D driving down to Engerland, and we're off on another adventure.

The journey is the one on the map here on the right, but first a detour to a small place called Fleet in Hampshire.

The map bellow shows the detour.  F being Farnborough and H Harwich.  And another added bit in Norway, from Stavanger to Bergen to Trondheim.

We arrive that evening, and go directly to Trevor's house.  Trevor has BMW bits The Husband wants.  The Husband gets the BMW bits from Trevor (in exchange for money, no skulduggery here).

We drive over to Farnborough and the De Vere Village hotel The Husband had booked online for our overnight stay.  After dropping the bags in the room we ate at their Verve Grill restaurant.
the added extra bit, Fleet/Farnborough first then HarwichQuite costly for what it is.  I had the Sea Bass, The Husband the pasta of the day, though he can't recall now what pasta it was exactly.  The Sea Bass was perfectly lovely, comes with your potato of choice, and...that's about it.  It doesn't look like a full main meal, but at 5p off of £16 it should be.  A variety of vegetable side dishes is available at an extra cost of £3.95.  £20 for a complete main dish in a chain hotel restaurant...bit of a cheek if you ask me.  Bloody hell, that's like Norway prices!  Sweet is Sticky Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream.

One of the waitresses had a wicked sense of humour, I do feel obliged to mention that, she was young, smart and witty, kidded The Husband on a bit bout his pud.  Wish I'd caught her name for a personal mention here.
  
 
  
  
 Farnborough to Harwich 03/01/12
  
 I was away from home forgetting to take my power adapter cable for my ASUS Eee netbook.  So next morning we found the Farnborough branch of PC World...long story short...some idiot shop assistant sold me the wrong product.   I took the Eee into the shop, gave it to him and requested that he sell me the appropriate power adapter cable.  He was so ridiculously bad at his job I felt the need to tell PC World just how rubbish the service I received was, the final outcome is awaited and I'll blog the full story later.

The weather was pretty bad as we drove round the outskirts of London towards Harwich, rain and strong winds, then news came through that the port at Dover was closed.  The Husband said The Channel, being shallower than the North Sea was going to be choppier and chances were Harwich was still up and running.

the Commodore De Luxe LoungeAt Harwich we find though there's an hours delay, the Dana Sirena is sailing.  We're in a Commodore De Luxe cabin with access to the Commodore De Luxe Lounge and it's bottomless supply of drinks and snacks, so it could've been worse.  Dinner is in the Seven Seas Buffet Restaurant, which is a pretty decent buffet with lots of choices and good quality food.  Drinks of course are extra, so be prepared for a bill bigger than the price of your all-you-can-eat buffet dinner.  Then we retire to the Commodore de Luxe Lounge for all you can drink, it's included in the hyper-price you paid for the privilege, so make the most of it.  I would've had a bottle away with me if there'd been a bunch of them available...but that's just the way I roll when it comes to included in the price type "freebies".  I like to get The Husband's money's worth.
  

   
 Roaring North Sea
   
 The overnight experience to Esbjerg in Denmark is the most weather-violent I've experienced on the high seas, with The Husband nearly rolling out of bed several times.  I'm on the bed next to the wall so can keep myself pushed up with my back to the wall, whereas The Husband doesn't have a wall, I see his hand grip the mattress, one side then the other, it's very entertaining.

The de luxe cabins and lounge are on the 10th deck, which I can tell you is extremely rolly-aroundy.  Down on the lower decks things feel more stable, even just the difference of two decks, deck 8 with the restaurants is  far less wobbly with plates and cutlery staying where you put them.  In the de luxe lounge I watch wall-mounted glass-fronted picture frames hanging at 45 degrees away from walls, while grasping onto my wine glass like it's the last drop of alcohol at an alcoholics emergency meeting to discuss a world-wide alcohol shortage. 
 
   
   
 
 
 
 Denmark 04/01/12  
   
 Next morning the North Sea is still angry so us Commodorees have to take the complimentary breakfast in the Blue Riband à la carte restaurant, the seating's in the posh bit, but the breakfast is get-it-yourself from the buffet.  "Complimentary" eh...they do really mean..."reflected in the price you paid".  A few hours later DFDS announces a free buffet lunch for all in lieu of the inconvenience of the delay, which is good of them really, The Husband's been on a boat where in the same circumstances passengers were sold half price food.  I like a free, but O M Gee, really, every passenger and their granny is there, the queue is  huge.  We opt for a cold lunch, no queuing involved.

The boat docks at Esbjerg five hrs later than usual, as predicted, they know their stuff the DFDS captains (which is reassuring given the terrible fate of the Costa Concordia 9 days later).  We're the last car off the boat after The Husband persuades the Range Rover to stop with the deactivating-of-the-engine security thing. While he's coaxing the RR to play nice, a Norwegian ferry worker tells us the ferry from Denmark to Norway has been off for the last 24 hours due to weather. 

Not knowing what's ahead boat-wise we make the drive up through Denmark in the dark, E20, E45 then the Denmark bit of the E39.  The boats may still be off, we might not get there on time due to the 5 hr late Dana Siera, the back-log may mean we have to wait for a later boat, we could be greatly inconvenienced.  Several hours later, it's all good news.  The boat is back on.  We just make it by the skin of The Husband's teeth, within ten minutes of arriving at Hirtshals we're parked on board, the last car to get on, watching others being turned away from another car deck.

Stepping over bodies slumped on floors and avoiding the glowers of dour faced, sleep-deprived, severely inconvenienced Scandinavians, we head to the comfort of Business class.  Here is your own big comfy chair, your own TV, internet connection, newspapers, fruit, drinks, and most importantly, Pepsi Max and biscuits.  One particular sweet wafer biscuit, lets just say...I got The Husband's money's worth.
 
    
   
 
 
 
   
 Kristiansand to Tananger, Norway 05/01/12  
   
 The RR is on best behaviour as we drive through the night, on the Norway E39 from Kristiansand to Tananger just outside Stavanger.  I sleep most of the way, thankfully The Husband stays awake for the entire journey.  It's nearly time for The Husband to get back up and go to work by the time we fall into bed at The Hummeron Hotel and that's exactly where he's gone to by the time I wake.  This evening we go into Stavanger for dinner at Cafè Sting.  
    
                       
 
 
 
   
 Still in Tananger 06/01/12  
   
 A quiet relaxing day in a Norwegian waterfront hotel room with balcony watching a duck catch and eat fish below...for me, The Husband's at work again.  We go for pizza in the evening then get an early night cos tomorrow we're on our travels again.
   
   mmm

 
   
 Tananger to Bergen 07/01/12  
   
 

Stavanger to BergenThe route from Tananger to Bergen is what anyone would conjure up as typically beautiful scenic Norway.  It's E39 all the 99.46 miles to Bergen, apart from the boat bits, it then goes all the way to Trondheim.  However, we jumped on a cruise ship at Bergen, more of that a little further down the page.

 

Stavanger to Bergen involves two ferries and a load of tunnels.  I've got a tunnel thing, I have to say out loud "tunnel" every time I'm in a tunnel, The Husband understands and often participates.

 

This started when The Boy was a teeny wee The Boy, he and I would shout "tunnelllll!".  He's probably forgotten and it's been a long time since I was in a tunnel with him, but I can't stop, I've been doing it for 18 years.  Weeks, even months, can go by with no "tunnel" shouting required, but Norway keeps me "tunnel" busy.

 

Subterranean tunnels and subsea tunnels, bridges and ferries, a lot of island hopping.  I'm fond of a tunnel or two, but it's a shame to be underground so much, missing all the gorgeous scenery up there.

 

Details of the route are here for us that like that sort of thing..

 

  1. Stavanger on the mainland

  2. Byfjordtunnelen subsea and subterranean tunnel runs under the island of Bru, emerging again on the island of Sokn 5875m

  3. Askjesundet Bridge from Sokn to Mosterøy

  4. Mastrafjord Tunnel subsea road tunnel from the island of Mosterøy to Rennesøy, 4,424 meters [14,514 ft] long

  5. ferry from Mortavika on the island of Rennesøy to Arsvågen on the island of West Bokn crossing the Boknafjord, approx 25 mins

  6. small bridge from one bit of West Bokn to another

  7. bridge to the island of Austre Bokn

  8. Håklepptunnelen subterranean tunnel on Austre Bokn 608m

  9. Ognasundbrua bridge to the island of Ognøya

  10. Frekasundbrua bridge from Ognøya to mainland

  11. bridge from one bit of mainland to another bit of mainland

  12. small bridge over a corner of inland lake Mosvatnet   

  13. bridge over the straight of Mjosundet

  14. Fjontunnelen subterranean tunnel 194m

  15. small bridge

  16. Bømlafjord Tunnel subterranean and subsea tunnel (the longest subsea tunnel in Norway at 7,820 meters [25,660 ft] long, reaching 260.4 m [854 ft] below mean sea level) from mainland runs under the Bømlafjorden and the island of Otterøya, to the island of Føyno

  17. Stordabrua bridge from Føyno to the island of Stord, over the sound of Digernessundet

  18. ferry from Sandvikvåg to Halhjem on the mainland 50 mins

  19. Liafjellstunnelen subterranean tunnel 340m

  20. Mobergsbrua bridge over inland lake Ulvelvatnet 234m

  21. Hardangervegen Hopstunnelen subterranean tunnel 758m

  22. Fritz C Riebers Veg bridge

  23. Bergen

 
 Bømlafjord Tunnel
Bømlafjord Tunnel
 
    
 And that took, like, hours and hours of research work, just hope I didn't make any errors.  
    
 view on Bergen from up a very steep hillIn Bergen we checked in for our Hurdygurdy cruise, or as the rest of the world knows it, the Hurtigruten cruise.

The checking-in process involves you parting with your luggage in the same way as at an airport.  Only the driver of the vehicle is permitted on the car deck.  So it's goodbye suitcases and with a few hours to fill we take a drive round Bergen.

We go up a long, windy and very steep hill to have a look down on the town.

Back at the boat, the MS Kong Harald, we board and explore till it's time for The Husband to return ashore to drive the RR onboard.
 
    
 The Husband driving the RR onto MS Kong HaraldWe're in cabin 508.  Remember this, it will prove to be a bit of a strange coincidence a little later.

The first night on the ship we go for the so-so buffet dinner then give the entertainment a bit of a try.  Two young Russians, I think.  There's an organ, singing and a backing track.  They wouldn't make it to The European Song Contest, let's just put it like that.  It's very empty in the lounge, it's all a bit of a SAGA cruise to be honest, so don't expect too much partying.
 
    
   
 
 
 
 
 08/01/12 The Hurdygurdy Bergen to Ålesund  
    
 view from The Kong Harald
The MS Kong Harald was having a bit of bother with technical engineering stuff so was late leaving on the sail through the Hjeltefjorden that evening.  On the first night the ship usually stops overnight at three small ports
...Florø, Måløy and Torvik, but due to our problem they sail straight to Ålesund with no stops, where the required tools are.

Soon after we're up and dressed there's land to be seen as the ship navigates it's way past skerries and islands
towards Ålesund.  The views when land is in sight are amazing.  This building on a skerry is a lighthouse I think, no-one would actually live there unless there was such an important reason and job to be done.  And maybe no-one does live there, maybe technology has done away with that need?  I don't know for sure.

It's all very picturesque regardless.
 
 a view from MS Kong Harald  
    
  The first stop for us is Ålesund.  Time to explore.  We have a few hours here, and the engineering type people are sorting the problem with them tools, I'm assuming.

On disembarking, all I knew about this town is it burnt down in 1904, so I was guessing there'd be nothing much older than 100 years.  We race round to see what I decided could possibly be the main sights, the Art Nouveau building style that replaced the city after the fire, some statues, the inner harbour and the church, there's usually always a church to rely on for a bit of history and stone.

However, as I now know, not in this case, the first stone was laid down by King Haakon on the 7th July 1906, the original church was also damaged in the fire.  Bloody fire.

I had it my mind there was a little statue of a young boy in town.  The Husband got it in his mind it was a fisher boy.  We found Avisgutten, a paper boy, on Kongensgate.  The statue was made by Arne Martin Hansen and given as a gift from the local newspaper Sunnmørsposten to the town in 1998.

To The Husband's credit we later found the fisher boy statue, Fiskergutten (1967) by Knut Skinnarland in Apotekertorget, the pharmacy square...I just didn't tell The Husband.  It's real name is Rate The Kid, the symbol of the youth's glow and expectation to the future.

We covered a lot of ground very quickly then back onboard for fish and chips from the ship cafe.

We decided to book for dinner that evening at the MS Kong Harald restaurant thinking last night was the first night and could be it was a disappointing buffet because they're just preparing to set sail, the other nights they probably get it right.  The cruise brochure promises all sorts of culinary delights.  We found a set menu with absolutely no choice, other than, take it or leave it.  The starter was something referred to as Slip Fish, I've tried, but can find no reference to 'slip fish' or 'slipfish' as a food or even just a breed of fish, on the entire www, so I've no idea what that was.  The main was a chicken thing that looked like sieved scotch broth and the sweet was a sorbet.  Disappointing and more so because of the extortionate price...and totally unacceptable due to the service.

The service was deplorable.  Waiting staff behaved like they were doing a purvey.  In Scotland a purvey is catering to a gathering, usually a funeral, it's accepted it'll be a rushed, non-personal affair, as reflected in the relatively cheap price.  No-one at a purvey expects top-end restaurant service because that's not been paid for, but any purvey I've been at was well better service-wise than this.

The drinks situation got us annoyed even before food arrived.  We'd walked in with wine glasses in hand as we'd started what we expected to be our civilised and top-end evening, with a drink in the lounge.

We took our seats then watched the waitress who seemed to be dealing with our area of the dining room deliver drinks orders to the tables behind us, then the table next to us, then skip past us and go to the table in front of us.

When a different waitress finally approached us after The Husband beckoned her over, she took our order for a bottle of their hyper-priced wine.  The Husband started the drinks-conversation by asking, "what do you have to do to get served round here?"  This got her back up, he explained how we'd watched the waitress skip past us.

Then the bottle of wine we ordered was unavailable, we took a second choice instead.  I little later I watched that waitress tell the original waitress all about it.  Right there just a few feet away from us, I knew they were talking about us, well you do don't you.  It was confirmed by the original waitress coming over and apologising, explaining that she'd seen our wine glasses and assumed we'd been served drinks-wise already.  Her apology sounded hollow, because of the bit...'it won't happen again'.  Damn right it won't, because it's highly unlikely that we'll do a Hurdygurdy dining experience ever again.

To let us see them discussing us like that was totally unforgiveable and only second to our Captain snub experience...keep reading for that story.

It just got worse, staff racing around with 5 or 6 plates, delivering them to whatever table/diner was next or nearest to them.  As a result we saw a dish arrive in front of The Husband, and sat looking at it, waiting till a different member of the staff put one in front of me.

The problem is, the way I see it, they offered one seating time, 7pm, which forced the staff to run around like it was a funeral.  If they'd perhaps went for two or three seating times, even just half an hour apart, the staff would've been able to provide a more personal service which would've been more in keeping with the cost.  And perhaps would've made the one choice menu more edible.

Anyways, we visited the lounge after the meal.

The Russians were back again, as well as a few OAP's reading books and ignoring The Russians.  One interesting lady was drinking coffee and quietly applauding The Russians.  I'd noticed this lady since we left Bergen.  She had bare feet in flip-flop type footwear and didn't necessarily need company to be heard talking.  I engaged her in conversation and found out why she was bare-foot, blisters on her heels.  I went back to the cabin to get blister dressings and applied them for her.  She thanked me, kinda.  I got the idea that she liked having me to talk to, but I really wasn't strictly necessary.  She was a cooky nice lady and my favourite person onboard.
 
    
    
 
 
 
    
09/01/12 Trondheim - off the boat, Olavskirken and Vår Frue Kirke
  
 We're up dead early to disembark in Trondheim.

I found it a comfortable and friendly ship with a really relaxed atmosphere.  Staff service was good, apart from the bad dining experience as I described above.  The dining room was ridiculously bad, but our moment with the Captain was worse.  We arrived at the same spot on the ship as he and his officers were passing, The Husband spoke to him and got totally snubbed, in a kind of how-dare-you-speak-to-me shit-on-my-shoe type way, that left a bitter taste.

Just as well he seemed to be, from our experience, good at steering a ship.

We're in Trondheim.  The Husband leaves me to go drive the RR off the ship.  The guys on the car deck had told him they'd drive it off, he explained no they wouldn't because the RR will deactivate if anyone messes with it's security technology.  The Husband isn't immune to being frozen out either, but he stands a far better chance of achieving RR cooperation than they do.  They accept his explanation.  Just as well or the RR might have been visiting the Arctic Circle.

At Trondheim there's lots of snow, the very reason The Husband had taken the RR, he wants to play with his new winter tyres.

We go directly to our Thon Hotel room.  Room 508.  Remember I said cabin 508 would prove to be spooky?

The Husband goes to work and I do my day on my own, starting with breakfast.

I love this Thon Hotel breakfast situation, so much so that I go every morning for the rest of our stay.  It's included in the price...a major factor in Norway.  But not the only factor because I've been in Norway hotels and not went for the inclusive breakfast.  This one is quiet and at a reasonable time, 8am till 10am.  It's a buffet and enough to keep a person well-fed till evening.  After a few mornings I got confident enough to eat a smaller breakfast then leave the room with some smuggled out rolls I made up in there, wrapped in a napkin and kept for lunch.  Felt like justified retribution for Norway's inflated prices.  The goats cheese was particularly tasty and I also appreciated the option of hard and soft boiled eggs.

This Thon hotel also has a connecting door to The Trondheim Torg, a shopping mall with over 70 stores on four floors.  That's handy and very novel.

I've been to Trondheim before and did many of their main tourist attractions on that visit, so I planned to explore deeper this time.  With a full week ahead of me and only 4hrs 44 mins of daylight each day, I spread my plans out accordingly.
   
 I lit a few of these candlesToday I set off through the shopping mall and find myself right next to the large bronze elephant.  On to the main square then to visit the church ruins in the public library.  They're very friendly in the library and photography is permitted.

The ruins of what is thought to be Olavskirken, a church dating back to the mid-12th century and skeletons from the graveyard were discovered during excavation work preparing for the new public library to be built.

1000 years old.  More ruins tomorrow.

I had my UGGs on, Trondheim was covered in a lovely fresh powdery snow, powdery but solid under foot.  With no wetness, my UGGs kept my feet warm.  My Uniqlo thermal loads-of-denier opaque tights with my C&A Clockhouse seriously thick footless tights over them, my Miss Selfridge parka, Matalan leather studded gloves, my faux fur scarf and my faux fur trapper hat kept the rest of me cosy.wearing his red scarf

Along the way I take lots of photies with snow on.  The statue of Olav Tryggvason in the main square is wearing a red scarf.

A big highlight of this visit to Trondheim is the Vår Frue Kirke (The Church of Our Lady).  Last time I wasn't brave enough to enter due to the slightly unsavoury appearance and numbers of the men hanging around the door, and the spitting, they spit a lot.   This time I was determined I would go in regardless of who else was there.

And I'm so glad I did, it's beautiful inside.  I approached the lady who seemed to be charge of rolls and tea while a bunch of people sat around chatting, supping and eating.   The lady happily gave permission for me to stay a while, look around and take photies.  Most unexpected was the man who spoke with me at length and invited me to join him kneeling on the floor lighting candles.  I lit some of the candles on the right side of the cross.

That evening after he finished work The Husband and I went back to the rotating restaurant at the top of the Tyholt Tower
 
   
   
 
 
 
   
 10/01/12 a wander round Trondheim  
    
 Breakfast is a good time to study the tourist guide booklet and decide what's on the day's agenda.  I go for a walk around the centre of Trondheim and revisit the Cathedral, the Old Bridge and the fishmarket.

I also find Thomas Angells Hus across from the Cathedral.  The main door is open, too inviting, I walk right in to the pretty little private courtyard with it's water feature.  Three old folks, a man and two women, are emerging from their apartments and meeting up before leaving the complex.  I worry for a minute that they might chase me out, but no.  The old man makes like he's posing for my camera, not a word is said, but I pretend to snap him like he's a model and we laugh.

Today there's still a load of snow and much ice, but also slushy stuff on the pavements and roads, I fear for my UGGs, so when he's done with work The Husband takes me boot shopping.  My new DKNY Cascade Boots are just the ticket, see them on The Star Swag Blog.

Then we go for a drive in the RR so he can have a play with his winter tyres, to the Granåsen Ski Jump and the fort Kristiansten Festning.

Dinner is at the rotating restaurant again this evening, but with the addition of Ian, one of The Husband's work colleagues.  Tomorrow is Ian's last day in the Trondheim office before he goes back to the oil rigs.  Dinner is a nice piece of Sea Bass, same as I had last night, it's tasty.  We have a sweet this evening too, the warm apple cake with caramel and vanilla ice cream, all very delicious till I find a human hair in mine.

I take it back to the staff who are very sorry, but not nearly apologetic enough, my compensation?  A replacement sweet without hair and the offer of a free coffee...generous they ain't.  I hadn't even made a fuss, I deliberately kept it on the QT for their sake, and that's all the thanks I get.  Next time I'll make a scene see if that works out any differently.

Ian recommends the blue cheese burger at The Microbrewaryot, I reckon it's worth a try.
 
    
    
 
 
    
   
 11/01/12 more Trondheim church ruins and Salamander Nights  
    
 After another hearty breakfast I set off to find the Salamander Nights.  I don't know what this looks like but I know it's a work of art by a Norwegian artist and that it's on display at the Sparebank building in Søndre Gate.  I find the bank...it's got a big green roof, you can't miss it...and find the lower level.  There's more church ruins down here. 

These are ruins of a church dating back to the middle ages, it's widely believed that it was here St Olav's body was kept the first night after it was brought to Trondheim.  Not very specific with their 'middle ages', according to Wikipedia that could be anywhere from the 5th to the 15th century.  I found this really interesting history document which also tells of these very excavations..."Excavations in the Medieval City of Trondheim" by Clifford D Long online at The Archaeology Data Service.  Exactly what I was needing.

scaryAfter the ruins and a skeleton I went in search of Salamander Nights.  Look for black out curtains over a doorway just opposite the ruins.

I entered alone, into pitch black.  I considered where the light switch may be but didn't want to touch anything, and it's a bit scary standing alone in a dark room you have no previous knowledge of.

I went out again and asked a man in a suit with a name badge about the situation.  He explained that is the whole point, you stand in the dark until your eyes become accustomed, then you see it.

I went back in again, slowly my eyes became a bit better accustomed, but not so as I could actually see well enough, just faded vague shapes in the gloom.  Very disconcerting.  I got the G10 out, so take a camera and use the flash, or a torch I s'pose.

The camera flash makes for spooky glimpses of what could easily be a horror movie, the entire room, all the wall space is covered in these haunting frightening freaky figures.  And at the far end of the room an individual lone one sits a short way into the room, he too is surrounded by the others.  He gives the impression of being the leader, one word or hand gesture from him and you're ripped apart and most probably eaten.

Made by Trondheim artist Kjell Erik Killi Olsen for Sao Paulo's biennial anniversary in Brazil in 1989. Salamander Nights is comprised of 72 sculptures, all over 3 metres high.  The artist gave it as a gift to Trondheim municipality in 2007, erm, very nice of him, I think.

Dinner this evening is a work affair.  The Husband & me invited to a freebie at The Dublin Bar for Ian's leaving doo.  Saying cheerio to Ian with delicious fish & chips. 
 
    
 
   
 
 
 
   
 12/01/12 Hospitalsløkka, Old Town Wall and Blue Cheese Burgers  
   
 It's another yummy breakfast then I hit the town again.  I'm taking loads of photies every day.  I head out to Hospitalsløkka, via the main square, Stiftsgården and a few side streets, then on along Kongens gate to find that bit of old town wall I didn't see last time.
the Old Town Wall covered in pristine snow
I ask a Norwegian gentleman standing at a bus stop where the wall is, he's baffled, seems to indicate he's never even heard of it.

When I locate the wall, it's a matter of feet away from the bus stop.  Maybe he just didn't understand my accent, or my language, or my accent version of my language.

Hospitalsløkka consists of the hospital church (1705) itself, the hospital (founded in 1277, Scandinavia's oldest existing social institution, used as a home for the elderly since 1866, it has also been a poor house and an asylum for the insane) and old painted timber houses in sweet little side streets and alleys, lovely to look at and rich in the atmosphere of traditional Norway.

The Husband has offered to drive
Ian to the airport, so I get back about 1pm and we drop Ian off.  The Husband and I head back to Trondheim and take a drive across the river.  Driving around the Lade district we find Lade Church and Dora 1.  Dora 1 is a former German submarine base and bunker built during WWII built to protect their U-boats from aerial attack.  It's now a business centre with offices and a bowling alley, as well as housing the city and state archives.
the blue cheese burger...with cowboy potatoes
So, on the recommendation of Ian, it's Microbrewaryot night for the blue cheese burger, made with Porter, onion and garlic, served with a slightly melted slice Selbu Blue and served with aioli and pesto.

And totally delicious it is too.

Though they have issues when you try to go off menu, just requesting fries in place of their thick cut potato wedge type cowboy potatoes doesn't happen, we don't mention it.
 
   
    
 
 
    
 13/01/12 Leif Ericson Day  
    
 Today is Leif Ericson Day...my Leif Ericson day...not the internationally recognised event which is the 9th October.  I've heard tell of a statue of Mr Ericson in Trondheim, but in my many days spent looking around I haven't set eyes on him.  I have to research where exactly it is.  Turns out it's quite remote compared to most other stuff, down in the industrial harbour Brattøra district.

This is the worst day of my Trondheim, the ONLY bad day of my Trondheim.

I left my comfort zone...the main central area...but I had a map and I could read it.  I set out, I knew exactly where I was going, down there, and I realised it was certain to be less inviting then usual, but I wasn't afraid, what could possibly go wrong?

Let me tell you...Trondheim was in a snowy state.  I applaud the way Norway deals with severe Winter weather conditions road-wise, the law says all vehicles have to do Winter tyres...it works very well and The Husband loves it.  They may have got it right on the roads, pavements...not so good.

They let snow and ice build-up on the roads, same goes for the pavements.  I don't know the stats, but I wouldn't be surprised if Norway is maintaining their high standard of living by killing off their OAPs every Winter due to fractured bones.  Even wearing my DKNY Cascade Boots, the pavements are mostly treacherously dangerous.  Crossing streets is worse.  The pavements are 99% untreated.  Try to step out and cross over a road, the traffic has troughs and peaks of solid ice with rivers of water between.  Every night in a cold spell the day's melted stuff freezes again.  Even the few bits of pavement that have received grit treatment, it's grit, not salt...and mostly rendered useless by the refreezing overnight, you can see the grit...under the ice.  Most pedestrian routes are tantamount to an ice rink.  Going down to the docks, I feared for my well-being every step of the way.  But I was stubborn with a heavy dose of how-bad-can-it-really-be? confidence.
Leif Erikson statue
How bad did it get?  Really really.  It was a torture, but as so often is the way of these situations, I'd went too far to turn around, and a nuance of naivety convinced me it couldn't get any worse.  But if I thought it was bad on the way down...

...on the way back I went askew, crossed the wrong bridge and got lost.

And just for good measure while I was with Mr Erikson a snow storm came in, you can see it approaching in the photo.  It also shows the ice rink I was walking on, nightmare.  By the time I was lost I was near-on ready to cry.

What happened was, as I'd walked down the left side of the road to get to The Leif Ericson Centre I figured I'd walk back up on the opposite side, to benefit from the different views along the River Nidelva.  Sounds like a good idea, but it isn't, the road configuration isn't as straight forward and I got on to the wrong bridge.  At the far end of the bridge the path was closed off with a temporary fence, that was a bit of a shock.  I now know the easier of the options was to retrace my shaky steps, but that's not how I roll...onwards and erm downwards...

...into an industrial area of workshops and offices.  Sheeesh!  I asked a man with a tray of eggs (I don't know why either) if I could get out by going round a certain way, he said yes, he was wrong.  Back out of that corner and I found myself beside a busy road with no pavement or obvious crossing.  Luckily in Norway pedestrians and drivers behave like pedestrians have right of way...the traffic miraculously stopped.

Across the road and eventually I'm at a more hospitable area of housing and shop fronts.  I'm way off track by now and lost.  I wander a while working out I must be too far out east, I haven't seen the Tyholt Tower for hours, which is a bad sign.  There's a hill in front of me, I can't see the fort, but it's got to be the hill with the fort, so I avoid going up the hill and skirt to the west of it.  I ponder the idea of phoning The Husband with a street name, he'd find me with the Sat Nav, or catching a bus, or hailing a taxi, but I'm tenacious M...I keep on keeping on.  I consider phoning The Husband with the information that I'm lost, when he asks me where I am, I'll say I'm standing outside a hairdresser shop.  Trondheim is a city of hairdressers, there's an inordinate amount of frisør shops, several on every street, nearly. 

I make it, the first good sign is the Bakke Bro bridge, phew, over that, and I'm back in the room.

About Leif Erikson (or Ericsson or Eiriksson), he was an Icelandic explorer and probably the first European to find North America, 500 years before Christopher Columbus.  His story was recorded in several different sagas, making it impossible to be sure of the true story.  It's thought that he visited Norway in around 1000 AD where he was converted to Christianity by Olaf I.

The Saga of Erik the Red tells of his sailing off-course on a voyage to Greenland and arrived in a place he called 'Vinland'. The Saga of the Greenlanders says he heard of a land in the west from an Icelandic trader, and went to find it.  Interestingly in 1963, ruins of a Viking-type settlement where found at L'Anse aux Meadows, in northern Newfoundland, which correspond to Leif's description of Vinland.  And it's a nice statue, a 10-foot replica of Seattle's statue donated to the city of Trondheim in 1997 to mark the 1000 year anniversary of both the founding of the city and Leif's voyage to America.

That's the story of his lost journey, mine took me to sights I'd never have seen if I hadn't got lost.  I found Lademoen Kirke in Lademoparken, where there's also a couple of cute bear sculptures (1983) by Karl Johan Flåthen. 

I also saw Bakke Kirke.  Maybe it was worth it, I do like the bears.

That afternoon we take a drive to Orkanger, a small village 37 miles from Trondheim.  There's a lot of snow and we see a Granny with some sort of ski mobility frame contraption.  I wasn't fast enough to get photographic evidence, but really.  She was on skies with a walking frame and a little basket on the front.  We saw her while we were parked out front a shop, just got a glimpse before she disappeared behind the shop, as we were driving off towards that end of the building, by the time we got there, she was disappearing down a steep hilly street.

Dinner this evening is back to the Microbrewaryot for another Blue Cheese Burger.
 
    
    
 
 
    
 Sweden and another bear sculpture 14/01/12  
    
 someone get a shovelIt's the weekend, Saturday, The Husband's got the day off work and we're going to Sweden, to the ski resort of Storlien.  Loads and loads of snow and pretty as a picture.  There's folks on snowmobiles and a dog sled team.  And a car that either the owner is going to have to dig like feck or wait till Summer.

I asked The Husband, why the windscreen wiper thing, why pull them out like that?  The Husband says it would be to stop them freezing to the windscreen, I rather think that's academic now.

We go to Sylvia's Kanonbar for a drink/snack and order waffles.  The waitress comes to the table a little while later, waffles are off, she says the waffle machine is outside.  Some sort of excuse we don't fully grasp.
not a good name

We stop at the tiny little village of Flornes on the way back, and visit the church.  One particular gravestone is poignantly  photogenic, the snow, the faded roses, the surname.

On the www I find that a G Øverkil was the architect who designed this Flora Chapel.  If I ever go back to the graveyard (unlikely) I have to find out the rest of the details.  The "AR" just visible to the left of the surname, is it Gunar?

Back in Tronders I'm after a bear sculpture at a hospital.  I know it's at St Olav's Hospital, I know it's got it's nose to wall, standing on tip-toes, straining to stick a nose into something that must smell real good.

 
  bear sculpture at St Olav's Hospital
The hospital turns out to be quite large, we stop and I jump out to ask a man if he knows where the bear is.  He doesn't.


A few feet away from him we find the sculpture, it's right next to the A&E department.  Norwegians are proving to know little of the minutiae of their own city.

At the Microbrewaryot for dinner this evening I decide I want to go traditional Norwegian.  There's no Reindeer available, I swear if there had been, I would've, I've been kinda daring myself for a while now.

So instead I go for the only really traditional dish on the meny.

In Norway Bacalao is a dish made of the traditional Klippfisk, which is cod preserved in a traditional method that was introduced to Norway around 1640.  It's heavily salted, then dried on rocks by the sea until it is dry and hard as wood.  Sounds well appetising...not really...but I only know this stuff now I'm back home and researching.

According to the www this dried cod can be stored for ages, when they wish to eat it they cut it up then leave it in cold water for hours and hours, maybe 12 or 20, ages anyway.

Legend says this water treatment will make it just like fresh fish again, only more salty.  Norwegian Bacalao is usually a special recipe that consists of the cod, olives, tomatoes, onions and peppers.  And that's exactly what I got, a big bowl of salty fish pieces with olives, tomatoes, onions and peppers...it's fish, but not as we know it, not very tasty.

We also tried the
Stout Brownie, served warm with raspberry and thyme sorbet only we asked for vanilla ice-cream instead.  We got one to share and we didn't finish it, that tells you all you need to know.
 
    
    
 
 
    
 15/01/12 Tyholt Tower during daylight and The Macbeth  
    
 The Macbeth
The Husband has Sunday off too, so we hit the Tyholt Tower during daylight.  This is great, it opens at midday.  We went up in the lift then took as many photos as we wished without even seeing any members of staff, we thought we'd have to at least buy a round of soft drinks.

Later we're walking through the city and find a Scottish pub, The Macbeth.  Looks good from the outside, classy, but inside it's a bit too The Clansman in Still Game.

I get talking to a Swedish man who tells me he drives cranes and Swedes come to Norway for work as Sweden has high unemployment.  He tells me the barmaid is Swedish too.  I wonder if everyone in The Macbeth is Swedish and don't know what it means if they are.

We drink up and go to the Dublin Bar for their lovely fish & chips.
 
    
 
 
    
 16/01/12 my last day  
    
It's been two weeks since I left Starry Towers and I'm being missed...I hope.  I go out for a wee stroll down Kongens gate, round by The Cathedral and back down Prinsens gate, and I'm done.  That's about enough Trondheim for any sane person.

Dinner is early, late afternoon, cos we're in bed by 7pm.
    
    
 
 
    
 Homeward bound 17/01/12  
    
 Up at 2.30am.  My flight home is via Amsterdam then on to Edinburger where The Mum and The Dad pick me up.  And lovely it is to see them.

How many times have I been to Norway now?  A load, you'd need two hands worth of fingers to count them.  My biggest disappointments are, so far, no Northern Lights and no Wolves, Bears or Moose, damn you nature.

My best memories are too many to list, and lighting the candles in the Vår Frue Kirke is near the top.  I'm not done with Norway yet, those bloody Aurora Borealis are on my hit list, and the Mousse, they can't hide forever.
 
    
    
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mmmm  mmmm