The Norway 2012 Journal #3
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As is often the norm at Starry Towers this trip was suggested to me at relatively short-notice, The Arctic Circle you say?  Count me in, lets do it.

 Leaving Scotland 27/07/12
The Husband's over there and I'm catching planes to join him.  It's Wednesday and The Dad's there for me, driving me to Edinburger Airport.  In the Airport I shop a Kurt Geiger tax free bargain.  Kurt Geiger packaging is worth more than what I paid for the two pack Ballchain Star Necklaces in the blue option.  The rest of the journey is uneventful, Edinburgh - Amsterdam - Trondheim.
 Monks Island reprised, the big wheel, Hell and Tautra reprised also 28/06/12
 A wee while back I lost precious photies when my memory sticks started doing daft things.  The pics of Monks Island from my last Norway trip, all gone, so I reckon a good way of spending my Thursday in Trondheim is to revisit Monk's Island (Munkholmen) on my own while The Husband has to work.

I have a sleep in then The Husband picks me up about 11am and drops me off down at Trondheim's Ravnkloa Quay.  Shortly after I'm on the passenger boat MS Nidarholm heading to the island.  I take a walk around then join for the guided tour of the historic fortress again.  It's probably the best tourist trip thing to do if you find yourself in Trondheim, and the most reasonably priced event in all of Norway, £7 for the return boat trip (approx 10 minutes each way) and £3 for the guided tour, so I'm enjoying the repeat.  Taking loads of photies.

An hour later I'm back on the mainland.  On the short walk up from the boat to the Det Norske building there's young promo girls every 6 meters handing out advertising brochures for Trondheim shops.  I turn a couple away very politely, they're teenage girls dressed in jeans, sweatshirts and trainers, before realising that with the Norwegian language brochures (wasted on me) they're handing out freebie SPF20 Lip Balm Sticks.  Ohhh, now I'm interested, I'll take that, thank you very much.  Nothing better than an actual useful-summit-for-nothing.

Byhaven Lip Balm Trondheim freebie



Turns out the lip balm has a lovely pearlescent shimmering sheen to it, and I'm well happy.  This is exactly the only face-paint type stuff I ever apply to my lips.  I assumed BYHAVEN translated as By Harbour, but no, it means "city garden".  Lovely.


lots of sausages




The Husband comes out of work to meet me as I want us to go round the market fair which is currently occupying the main Trondheim square.  Loads of the usual tat you see in every town market all over the western world, but with added sausage, furs and guns.


The first sausage stall I see, I'm tickled, it looks so traditionally picturesque, six sausage stalls later I realise Norway likes sausage.


The other stand out stalls are the furs and deactivated guns.


pancakes on griddles



The taxidermy decaying deadness of stuffed animals and flayed skins looking mangily and anciently worse for wear.


Plus if you want a replica gun, with which you can pretend to kill your own animals, you're in the right place.


Helium balloons, cheap T-shirts with really crap prints, rubbish baseball caps, belt buckles, dubious metal jewellery, candy floss, pancakes raising on griddles, cheeses, olives, freshly cooked eastern wok food and punnets of sweet juicy ripe red Norwegian in-season strawberries, the best strawberries in the world.


It's all at the Trondheim market fair.




The Husband on the big wheel






This wonderful fair also has show rides and I talk The Husband onto the Big Wheel.  He's dubious initially because he'll quite literally be waving to his work colleagues in the Det Norske offices, just feet away, when we're at the top.


I convince him he's such a valued member of the work force that even if his highest up boss spots him out the window, he's allowed a bit of frivolity on the grounds that he's actually English (a quirky nation), his wife is visiting and the pikies are in town.


He falls for the line, but he's loving it as much as me, after the age of 40 a big wheel is just fun for the sake of big fun.  And great views of the city from up there.


We go into The Husband's office after the fair, so he can check emails, catch up with happenings and news in the oil industry, it's all very important don't you know.

Then it's fun time again, and we head out on the highway to Hell and the abbey ruins at Tautra, retracing the route of a previous trip.  I also lost my original photies of these places in the great memory stick disaster of 2012.


Heading North to Mo i Rana 29/06/12

my Reindeer




The Husband finishes work as early as the oil industry can do without him on the Friday and we head on up the road.  We're going to Mo i Rana, the gateway to the Arctic Circle.


We have a hotel booking for the next two nights in the Arctic Circle city.  And as usual with Norway, when they say "city", they really mean "bigish town".


On the road trip I...finally...get my Moose!  I'm so pleased.  Or maybe he's an Elk.  But he could be a Reindeer.


Just prior to reaching Mo i Rana we'd taken the road up through a nature reserve in Sweden, and this is where we met the, erm, antlered ungulate ruminant.  I'm thinking Reindeer.


I'll ask The Husband to ask a Norwegian workmate to put me right.



Both evenings in Mo i Rana we have dinner across the street in a 100 year old traditional Norwegian wooden building called Trønsdalhuset, now known as the No3 restaurant, bistro, winebar.Comfort Hotel and No3 restaurant


The waitress asked if we had booked, we hadn't, it wasn't a problem.  They offer a limited menu, the main course has 2 meat options and 3 fish, but interesting ingredients.  The first evening we have the Saltimbocca.


Veal with Parma ham and sage served with potato puree, garlic fried mushrooms, baked tomato and kalvesjy.  Now, I've never had veal before, but I'm kinda sure it's meant to be more delicate and tender than this.  Stands to reason, it's a baby, it'll not have had time to get grisly.

But somehow the chef has managed to achieve a tough chewy dish.  Everything else on the plate was tasty, but the meat less so.  Service this evening was good, timely and accurate. 

train carriage styling in the Spisevogn restaurant


At Mo i Rana we check in to The Comfort Hotel Ole Tobius, it's the best you'll get, unless you book about a year in advance.  It's perfectly functional and you can make your own pancakes.  A couple of days in the place and you start to appreciate it's true quirky nature with it's train theme.  The hotel is named after the Norwegian teacher and minister Ole Tobius Oleson (18/08/1830 – 06/07/1924) who is known as "father of the Nordland Line", the rail line from Trondheim to Bodø.


There's historical photos, a railway guards uniform on the stairs, railway track patterned carpeting and the Spisevogn restaurant with train seating and a luggage rail full of luggage.

 Mo i Rana, The Arctic Circle and Grønligrotta 30/06/12   

HavmannBreakfast is included in the price at the Ole Tobius, after we eat we take a stroll down to Mo i Rana old town and the waterfront because Antony Gormley is following me around.


This Antony Gormley thing began in Newcastle, when I, innocently enough, visited the Angel of the North.  Thinking nothing of it, I came to be in Lelystad in Holland where I came across his largest sculpture, Exposure, or as it's known at Starry Towers, The Shitting Man.


Next, I was minding my own business in Stavanger in Norway, found myself surrounded in Mr Gormley's Broken Column iron men statues.


I go to Southport recently, only to discover that yet more of these iron men at Crosby Beech, just 12 miles away, 100 of them.


The Husband refuses to indulge Gormley's back-to-the-future stalker behaviour on that trip, but he's intrigued all the same.


He tells me next time we're in that neck of the woods he'll indulge Mr G's big plan.


Where else is what I'm wondering?  Does The Big G have public art works in every place on earth?  Is there a Gormley Man Statue Factory churning them out at 1000 a week to cover every possibility for my future destinations?


I know it may seem dubious, but stranger things have happened...mostly to Bible-Belt Americans, ghost hunters and Catholics.


However sceptical I usually am about anything non-scientific...I go way up north on a whim, to Mo i Rana of all places.  I don't know anyone in real life who's went there before me.  I'm looking at brochures in the hotel room...fecks sake...Havmann (Man from the Sea) is standing a couple hunner meters away in Ranfjord.


The sculpture is 7 blocks, 11 metres and 60 tonnes of Arctic granite.  I like it.


If Mr Gormley continues to precede me everywhere I go I'll continue to be impressed, amazed and just a little concerned.

this is me in the Arctic Circle







Now we're driving the 80 kilometres further north to the Arctic Circle.  The further north, the more the landscape changes from Norway's lush green of trees and grass, passing through the tree line, then on to the more barren tundra.


At 66° 33' North we're officially in the Arctic Circle, we know this because they've very kindly put a tourist trap at the same spot.  Just off the E6 highway at Saltfjellet stands the Polarsirkelen centre, offering all things touristy.


There's monuments for having your photie taken beside, providing proof of your visit.  Souvenirs of all kinds, clothing, a cafe selling Norwegian foods, stuffed Arctic Circle native wild animals, special Arctic Circle stamps and an Arctic Circle post box, ensuring your postcards back home will be postmarked Arctic Circle, making it absolutely undoubtedly clear you were at the Arctic Circle.


We took our photies by the monuments, posted postcards, one to The Parents and one to Starry Towers, ate some Norwegian food and bought Arctic Circle fridge magnets.  I have even passed urine in the Arctic Circle, though don't have actual proof of that.


In the centre check out Europe's largest stuffed Polar Bear, it's got one hellava long neck. 








Arctic Circle Raceway




Driving back South from the Arctic Circle and The Husband is interested to drop in to visit the Arctic Circle Raceway.


This race track sits at 200m (660ft)above sea level and is the furthest north racetrack in the world.  At 2.33 miles long it's also Norway's biggest race track.


Good fortune has a track day in full swing when we get there, we take a stroll around the paddock with The Husband taking photies for his bikey website.


But enough of this motorbiking, we have caves to explore. 




supporting a giant granite rock in the caves






The  lit Grønligrotta caves, 20 kilometres north of Mo i Rana, are open for 8 weeks in Summer, small window of opportunity that.


For NOK130 per person there's guided tours to be had, every hour on the hour, from 10am till 7pm.


Our tour guide was a guiding virgin, but she got her inaugural run under her belt by looking pretty and stumbling through some hazy approximate "facts" in broken English with little confidence.  Don't get me wrong, she was very nice and she didn't lose anyone down there, but I stopped listening to her due to the having to struggle to work out what she was on about.


The Grønligrotta advice is that this 35min tour is suitable for all family members...this is questionable.


There's a couple of tricky bits, slippery underfoot, requiring a lot of holding on for dear life while finding safe stepping places underfoot, a few potholes that could be fallen into if one were to lose focus for a second and the route narrows in several places.  There's handrails to assist, but in a couple places they don't feel rigidly secure to me.


Put it this way, I wouldn't take a very young child or a very old person down there, and there's more than a few fatties shouldn't try it.


the opaque green waters of River Ranelva



From the cave we drove back down the mountain track and back onto the real road which followed the River Ranelva for a while.  The very green River Ranelva.  I've Googled all over but am still unable to find any explanation as to why this is the most opaque greenest river I've ever set eyes on.


The Husband says it's due to the natural waters in the area containing dissolved carbon dioxide which greatly increases the solubility of marble, that the green is, essentially, the green of liquid marble.  I say yes The Husband, that sounds plausible, but I don't know for sure.


We arrive back in Mo i Rana and book dinner again at No3 for our second night, it's the classiest looking place in town.


We go back to our hotel and make our own pancakes in the train carriage that is the dining room before having a walk around town then getting dressed for dinner.




Dinner at No3 and we both go with the plaice.  Served with puy lentils, vegetables brunoise, kalvesjy, pomegranate and bacon, it totally makes up for the tough meat of the previous evening.  This is a delicious perfectly cooked fish with flavoursome and surprising accompaniments.  Every forkful is a marvellous mouthful.  My absolute favourite ingredient of all the delights on the plate is the bed of something the fish is sitting on.  I have no idea what it was, I suspect it's the kalvesjy, but according to the menu I've eaten it twice now, it apparently came with the veal too.  Maybe they changed an ingredient and didn't inform us.  I have no idea what kalvesjy is, but I savoured every bite of it.  I must start taking photies of everything interesting I eat, it might help when I try to describe stuff accurately in my travel journals.


Applying intelligent reasoning, I recognised the plaice, it was the fried fishy perfection atop the hill of summit.  The bacon is obvious, the vegetables easy to identify, though I don't believe they were in a brunoise stylee, they were julienne definitely.  A little side is clearly the pomegranate with other grains of equal size, bursting with flavour and texture, must be the puy lentils.


The fish is atop a delicious creamy smooth pile of...what has to be the kalvesjy.  This is the stuff of I-have-to-have-this-again-and-soon!  My best guess?  I think it's a pasta type stuff, little tiny slithers of approximately 1.5 to 2cm pasta.  I think.  And Google isn't helping. 

 Back to Trondheim 01/07/12  

Laksforsen Waterfall



Next morning we do the 300 miles back down the E6 from Mo i Rana to Trondheim, stopping off a couple times for drinks and toilet facilities.


The first is at the Laksforsen Tourist Cafe, you can't not, the waterfalls can be seen from the road, you have to.


We take coffee for him, and a Coke Light for me then I have to go tell a member of staff that we want to go out on a balcony to see the falls better.  The windows are extensive and should offer great views, but they're dirty, probably deliberately.


the pure brilliance that is Norway's Cornus suecica



As paying customers my request leads to a waitress coming over to unlock a door onto a balcony.  As soon as I come back in she returns and locks the door.I'm guessing this is to stop people just dropping in to take advantage of their premium panoramic views without spending any money.


Next stop is at a petrol station with picnic tables and a lake.


I take some time out to look at the little things.


Vast swathes of these gorgeous little wild flowers called Cornus suecica.  Breathtakingly beautiful.


In the water there's little creatures.  The Husband says they're fish, but they're not, they have legs.


Horrible creepy crawly things, I get a close-up so I know.

 The Husband and I go through Hell, to Værnes Airport, he's going on business to Stavanger and me, I'm heading to Edinburger via Amsterdam.  My journey is uneventful, and The Parents are there to meet me, which is a lovely homecoming.

Last time I left Norway I swore I'd be back, for the Moose, well I've had my Moose, or Elk, or maybe a Reindeer, I'm still waiting for confirmation on that.  But I'll have to go back again, now I want my Bear or my Wolf, some people are just never satisfied.
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