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The Norway 2012 Journal #2
 
               
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This trip was suggested to me earlier in the week, I was thinking I was too busy/lazy/tired/fat to be bothered, but by the Thursday I suddenly felt I really wanted to, and more likely, really needed to. 
mmm
  
 
  
  
 Leaving Scotland 19/05/12

 After working a long couple of day shifts, on the Friday night I got just three hours sleep before I was out my bed on Saturday at the entirely unreasonable hour of 3am.  The first flight was Edinburgh to Amsterdam at 6am. I was very aware of my low-carb diet during my travels and stuck to it on the flights.  I ate the slice of cheese out of one sandwich and nibbled on the seaweed I'd taken with me. Could these people do a low-carb option please!

Found myself sitting next to some foreigner with straggly, dirty looking, shoulder-length hair.  The entire flight he clasped in two hands, though never opened or read any, a paperback book called "El Comandante".  I guessed, correctly as it transpired, it was some communist revolutionary leader biography, perhaps Che, ah but, seems it's Fidel Castro.  He looked the part, grow up, that is so 1960s, and 1980s retro.
  
 
  
  
  Schipol Amsterdam 19/05/12
  
Fifty minutes from plane to plane at Schipol, that's tight.  Manoeuvring myself to the front, past any slow, lingering, unfocused people in the queue I raced through the priority boarding short-connection passport control gate from terminal to terminal.  On through the security check despite setting off the alarms three times.  I was then stopped by this random woman in a serious uniform, saying "I want to check your luggage madam".  "ARE YOU FECKIN KIDDING LADY?!", I thought quietly to myself.  I announced, unasked and smiling politely, that I was coming from Edinburgh going to Trondheim, incredulous that I may look likely to be a bad person to her.  Amazingly, that worked, she let me go on.

I arrived at the gate and was straight on the bus, phew!  Thinking I'd just made it by the silver toecaps on my black suede stilettos, I then sat for a quarter of an hour on the plane while the bus went back to the gate for another load.

This is my first time flying with only hand luggage, which was good, as along with my pre-checked-in and printed boarding pass in hand, I was able to skip that queue.  But despite my new minimalist packing skills it's not easy fitting everything for a weekend into one cabin case and a large black leather studded tote bag, so I was wearing my Vero Moda Very contrast leather shawl lapel tuxedo jacket and had to carry my Miss Selfridge animal print faux fur hooded parka.

Also my first time dealing with the liquids issue in carry-on luggage.  Normally I'd pack all my toiletries without a care in my suitcase, check it in, and think nothing more about it.  I've imported and later deported indoor sparklers, to and from the USA in my checked-in luggage before, I didn't realise they counted as explosives.  I've taken Christmas dinner to Norway, turkey, potato salad, quiche, pate, six different cheeses, mini pork pies and extra-thick Remy Martin Fine Champagne Cognac brandy cream.  I don't know which of them might be prohibited, but surely some are.  I was thinking, bound to be cold in the hold, like a fridge, would keep my perishables nice and fresh.

So there I am, on the flight from Amsterdam to Trondheim, that's when I ran into my Kindle problems as described in detail on The Star Blog here, I won't repeat myself.  I had intended on looking intelligent and getting a couple hours of serious reading done.  That option was unavailable so I listened to podcasts and played Solitaire on my iPod.

A couple of times my neighbour tried to strike up conversation, I wasn't particularly interested, but he felt the need to communicate, from what I gathered, I think he was making his way from The Philippines, this was his third flight on the journey, to Trondheim and the cruise ship he works on.  Yeah, yeah, would you like my high-carb apple pastry, I won't be eating it.  He took it.
  

   
Værnes Trondheim 19/05/12
   
  I was first through in arrivals, that little matter of no checked-in luggage paying dividends.

And awww...The Husband was there awaiting my arrival.

We drove, in his new motor love, the Starry Towers Mercedes-Benz CL500.  He let me tell him all my news, but was just a split second too quick in changing the subject by asking what I thought of the Mercedes.  I told him more stuff, again, and what do I think of the car?  It's very nice, it's not the Range Rover, but still, lovely darling.

Trondheim's coolest most beautiful houseWe drove to the house of one of The Husband's Trondheim work colleagues.  This Norwegian gentleman wished to meet me, and he did.  We met his wife and his Eurasier dog, first time I met one of them, and had a tour about his typically Norwegian wooden house.  A house of many rooms, and many doors, and many patio areas, and lots and lots of wood.

From there The Husband took me to his Trondheim apartment.  The Husband is staying in the best house in Trondheim, Trondheim's coolest Grand Designs/Location Location Location mash-up.

His bit of this old/new architectural triumph is round on the left side, you can't see it in this photo.

Tis unfortunate I didn't snap a pic of the left side because the double story curved balcony areas are quite beautiful, all glass and chrome and clean stone tiles, perfectly reflecting the open-plan interior living area of the main house.
 
   
   
 
 
 
  Røros 19/05/12 
   
  the Copper Works, Preservation Workshop and church RørosWe head out on the road this Saturday afternoon, 153km of up and more up, to a height of 600 metres above sea level.  Visiting the UNESCO Heritage Site and former mining town that is Røros.

With loads of traditional wooden houses from the 18th and 19th C this small town is a delight.  The main attraction are the mines, where copper was mined and smelted between 1650–1717 and 1861–1890.  The smelting was powered by water from the River Hitterelva which flows past the Copper Works and through the town.  Copper, zinc, chrome and pyrites were extracted in the area, but copper was the dominant export commodity. The total production from it's first discovery in 1644 until 1977 was approximately 110,000 tons.  I'm not sure what that looks like, but it sounds like a great big lot.
inside the Vertshuset, we sat at the table on the left
The Husband and I had a walk around town, points of interest being the river, the Copper Works, the 80 houses with their dark pitch-log facades, the church and graveyard and the slag.  Not the town whore, the waste product of copper smelting.

We ate at Vertshuset in the Rammgården building on Kjerkgata, built in 1844 by Johan Natanael Ramm.

Wanting something local we picked wisely, a delicious dish of fish on a bed of creamed barley with onions and bacon in what I would call shabby chic Marie Antoinette surroundings. I later read the restaurant decor is inspired by 19th century bourgeois parlours in Røros, when furnishings and decor followed the latest European trends.

Røros Reindeer StagAlways on the look out for a nice piece of public art slash statue slash sculpture slash interesting lump of stone or metal, Røros provided me with a Reindeer stag in what we're guessing is copper.

The translation of the statue inscriptions tell of the statue being given to Røros by Sparebank (a Norwegian bank) to mark the 125th anniversary of the bank.

From what I can make out, local man Hans Olsen Aasen was the first to discover copper in the area in 1644.  Legend has it that he shot a splendid stag which, as it fought to survive the bullet wound, kicked up a stone which shone in the sunlight, attracting Hans's attention, and the rest, as they, resulted in the poor beast being dead.  And a bit of history.

The most important thing I learned at Røros, is that Norwegians should treat all their wooden buildings with pitch, whatever that is, the stuff that them old houses are dipped in that gives them their sturdy medieval appearance.  Though I have to admit I'm left not knowing what bits are genuine old original, and what bits are "preserved" not so original, made to look like ancient bits.  Røros is "preserved", pitch might be involved.
 
    
   
 
 
 
   
  Trondheim 19/05/12 
   
 
Hurdygurdy Kong HaraldBack in Trondheim we have a little drive around, going to see the Leif Ericson statue and Dora 1 and 2 again.  To see the statue without having to ice skate round him like I had to last time I was there in January, was better, and that's a deliberate understatement, it was danger level RED last time.

While I was out taking pics of Mr Ericson, a happy coincidence...right time, right place...the Hurdygurdy (or as most folks know it, the Hurtigruden) MS Kong Harald sailed past.

That's our ship from the Norway January trip.  The boat we sailed to Trondheim in with the Starry Towers Range Rover (sadly no longer at Starry Towers).
 
    
                       
 
 
 
   
  Munkholmen (Monks Island) 20/05/12  
   
  On Sunday morning I'm having an early morning wander round the garden at The Husband's palatial apartment/house.  Out there in Trondheimsfjord it strikes me, that's what we have to do today, visit Munkholmen.  I go in and tell The Husband, he says it's closed for Winter, I say but it's not Winter anymore surely, he says don't called me Surely.  I say Google It, but he already is, and what good fortune.  It opens on the 20th May, today, hurrah!  It's a boat trip for us today.

The Husband on MS NidarholmWe head down to Trondheim's Fish Market at Ravnkloa Quay and find Monks Island is included for free in the very reasonable price of a return boat trip.

There's not a lot that's cheap in Norway, but this round trip plus admission to the island and it's fort is 70NOK, that's like only 7 of our Scottish pounds.  If you like a bargain, and even if that's not your main motivation, I truly recommend you catch a trip on MS Nidarholm (departing hourly from 10am to 4pm).  On the island, take as long as you wish, then jump back on any of the quarter past the hour return trips.

On the island you'll find a captivating history told with deep knowledge and warm geniality by the guide guy.  He tells it first in Norwegian then directs them through and returns to tell the rest of us in English.

He juggles the two groups of tourists flawlessly with perfect timing.  He's very good.

MunkholmenPrior to the founding of Trondheim in 997, Monk's Island was used as a place of execution, since then it's been a monastery, a fortress, a prison, a WWII anti-aircraft gun station and a customs house, I'm not entirely sure in which order exactly, it's been a busy place.

The whole experience is so well worth
it, do not leave Trondheim till you've been to Munkholmen, and that's an order, unless you go in the closed season, if so, you have to go back again when it's open.

Not to be missed, you hear me???
city in 1997.
  Coffee Annan on Prinsens gata 
Walking back to The Starry Towers Mercedes-Benz, parked safely in The Husband's city centre underground parking space (perk of the job), and if you don't have such privileged parking in Trondheim, don't even think about it, the cost is prohibitive to all but the uber-riche.

As I was telling, on the short stroll back to the M-B we happen upon the United Nations Trondheim branch.  How lovely the UN also offers cafe bar facilities to all Trondheimians and visitors to the city.  You'd think they'd have better things to occupy themselves, but still.
   
   mmm

 
   
  Trondheim on a sunny afternoon 20/05/12  
   
  sunbed to grave shopping...keeping it convenientHere's a rather unfortunate Trondheim shop-neighbour situation.

Trondheim has two major retail outlets, hair dressers and tanning salons.

They're seemingly obsessed with getting their hair done and having a tan.

My favourite tanning salon is Insane Sun.  I don't mean I frequent the place, it's the name and the location (next to the gravestone suppliers) that tickles me.
 
    
     
   
 
 
 
 
  Norwegian Lunch with tales of derring-do 20/05/12  
    
    
  the longship Olav Tryggvason which Mr Norwegian sailed from Isle of Man to Trondheim in 1997
The Husband and I have a
date with Norwegians for Norwegian lunch.  Fresh home-made waffles with Brunost (a sweet cheese coloured brown from the caramelised milk sugar), cloudberry jam and rømme (sour cream) from the Røros Dairy.  Sweet lovely foods, I politely tried it all, just kept my portions small.

One has to be careful when living the low-carb life.

At lunch with the Norwegian family Mr Norwegian tells us about his trip in a longship.

Not only is he rich with the best house in Trondheim, he's an adventurer in the best Scandinavian tradition of the Vikings of old.  He's a bit of a catch actually, Mrs Norwegian, you done well girl.

The "Olav Tryggvason" is a 16m (48ft), with 8 pairs oars, pine-built, 2:3 scale replica of the Viking ship found at Gokstad.  Mr Norwegian sailed the ship, with a crew, from the Isle of Man to Trondheim, via the Caledonian Canal in 1997.

I find the Caledonian Canal bit extremely exciting for Scottish reasons.  Mr Norwegian is somewhere on this boat in this photie.  The ship is now called the "Haakon Haakonsson" and owned by some Norwegian bunch of longship enthusiasts in Bergen, if we ever find ourselves in Bergen we will go see.
 
    
    
 
 
 
    
Tautra 20/05/12
  
  Tautra electronic gatesAfter lunch we're off to Tautra.  Our second island this weekend, only this time there's no boat, this island in the Trondheimsfjord is connected by a 2.3-kilometre (1.4 mile) long causeway bridge with electronic gates at the mainland side.  The Husband tells me the gates are to keep the big animals off the island, animals like elk, reindeer, bears and wolves, I'm guessing.  He says once such a creature was on the island it would be murder trying to shoo it back off.  I for one would be overjoyed to witness any of them big Norwegian animals walk the one and a half miles from mainland to island, they're spoiling the fun with them gates.

We head to the main attraction, the ruins of medieval Tautra Abbey.  This was a monastery of Cistercian monks founded in the 13th century.
medieval Tautra Abbey set up for a wedding ceremony
Dissolved in 1537 during the Scandinavia Reformation, the monastery lands were passed to the Crown.  I love a bit of Norwegian history, and more so if it's in stone, the stone bits are such a rarity.

There'd been a wedding ceremony the day before we visited, hence the chairs still laid out.

From the old to the new,  founded in 1999, the present Tautra Monastery is a newly founded Trappistine community, the first permanent Cistercian settlement in Norway since the Reformation.  And it's got nuns instead of the original monk men of old.

The new church is a modern building, large slate tile cladding, the roof all glass and wooden beams.  Not particularly attractive if you ask me, and maybe you would.

Tautra Church
This is nothing to compare to the ancient abbey, not even in comparison to the ruins, the ruins are well lovely.  This is a wee bit religugly.

BOOM!  Great little made-up word for the big bad side of religion.

This can be applied to buildings, dogma, religious icons, extremists and their religugly ideology, beliefs and behaviour.

To the evil people who abuse others in "the name of", making the worst of their position and power.  To the Catholic paedophile priests, the Mullah's stoning Muslim women for, well practically anything as and when it comes up their humph, and the Jehovah's Witnesses refusal to watch the telly.

There's a huge amount of terrible religugly out there, maybe this slightly displeasing little church doesn't deserve to be included.
   
   
   
 
 
 
   
  Hell 20/05/12 
    
  Hell
Next, we go to Hell.

Was a beautiful day in Hell, much more pleasant and temperate in climate than I'd always imagined.

Apparently this Hell does freeze over several times every year, and there's a load of quips and one-liners available to satisfy the itsy bit of all of us who can't resist the occasional slip into corny.  I spent a good part of the visit looking for a hand-basket, searching the town from top to bottom for angels and bells, and comparing the town's level of fury (not a lot) to that of your typical scorned woman (a lot).

There were no bats seen leaving, no fires, I didn't get burned, no gates, no holes, no hounds, no cats, no raisers, and it definitely was Hell, not high water.  Funny as hell, me.  The must-see landmark of Hell is the train station. There's a Gods-Expedition sign on one of the train station buildings. "God" is Norwegian for "goods", so this is some sort of cargo office.
 
    
   
   
 
 
 
   
  Hell 20/05/12 
   
 

Hellsenteret is Hell's shopping mall.  Well, you have to, you don't go all the way to Hell and not...shop in Hell. 

This is the dinner from Hell.

A Fersk Sushi I Butikk (fresh Sushi in store) tray with 16 bits...salmon, halibut, prawns, kingfish and Futomaki with tuna from from the REMA 1000 supermarket.  It's remarkably tasty with  pickled ginger, Goma Wakame (seaweed) wasabi and soy sauce satchets.

I keep the chopsticks...long enough to take the photie.  The eating utensils from Hell.  I tried, but time hasn't improved my technique, pass the fork.  If the ancient Chinese were so clever, eating utensils, chop sticks the best they could do?  Really?


   
    
 
 
    
  Back to Scotland 21/05/12  
    
  Vikingfjord VodkaThe weekend's done and sadly it's time for the return journey.  We're back on the highway to Hell as The Husband drives me back to the airport, Værnes Airport is right next to Hell.

Once through security I wander around the duty free where a lady tempts me to buy Norwegian Vodka.
Vikingfjord
Prizewinning Vikingfjord Vodka is made with glacial water from the Jostedalsbreen glacier (the largest glacier in Europe) in South-Western Norway, that sounds more tempting than Smirnoff, and the bottle is rather stylish.

I'd love to drink Vodka at this Vikingfjord bar.

The airports and the flights were fine on the way home.
 
  leaving Trondheim

Both times I got a row to myself, which allowed me to have my favoured aisle seat for quick evacuation plus sit at the window for the view as we left Trondheim.

Still no live wolves, bears, moose or reindeer, I'll have to go back.

 
    
    
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mmmm  mmmm