Train journey through heaven one day and a train journey to Hell and back the next!
Sat 15th July - Maximum Travel Day!
At midnight, as the clock ticked over to Saturday I was fast asleep on the night train from Stavanger around the south coast to Oslo. Thanks to my trusty eye mask and ear plugs I had a good sleep.
I had been trying unsuccessfully to purchase an inflatable pillow since mine developed a slow leak in Sweden last month. This train came with a great 'night pack'. Blanket, eye mask, ear plugs and....an inflatable pillow. The ear plugs were so useless they made me laugh. After rolling them between your fingers, they would return to shape so quickly you could not insert them into your ears! I used mine instead and added the complimentary pillow to my packet of travel essentials.
After a 9 hour journey during which I slept for most, I arrived in Oslo, with enough time to change trains and not much more. I did check email, but none of you buggers had written to me. So selfish! You are happy to read what I take the time to write in this blog, but not a peep from you. (Don't forget I am going close enough to the North Pole to find Santa and I WILL have a chat to him! You have been naughty!)
The 7 hour train journey from Oslo to Trondheim is a journey from Heaven! Norway is just unbelievably beautiful! It's like Mother Nature was just trying to show off!.....and this journey didn't include any fiords!
The train followed magical valleys, sometimes through the bottom, sometimes halfway up, and sometimes along the ridge, but always the views were breathtaking. I had my book with me, but there was so much of interest to see out the window that I was scared I would miss something if I read my book.
During part of the journey the train travelled through an elevated plateau over 1000m ASL surrounded by snow-capped mountains that went to 2000m.
I am loving Norway. It might be expensive, but the landscape is priceless!
On arriving in Trondheim I walked to my accommodation. It was further than I thought, but the sights along the way were interesting and I saw a cathedral I would return to once I had dumped my backpack.
Yikes! On first impression I thought I had been diddled on this place! The internet booking service had described the dorm as having far less than the 34 people in the room! Cheap is good, but what price a good nights sleep? This is a student-run centre for the summer holidays only, with student prices on everything. Cheap and nasty? Cheap yes, nasty, NO.
How wrong first impressions can be. This place is actually really good. The staff, students working voluntarily are SO NICE and happy to help, unlike the staff at Piccadilly BP in London who treated you, the guest as a major incovenience.
They serve an evening meal, my cheapest yet in Norway and unlikely to be beaten. Beer is as affordable as Norway gets, so yes, I broke my drought.
"A man is not a camel. A camel can go for 14 days without a drink. I can't!"
After ditching my backpack, I went to the cathedral I'd passed on the way. Dating all the way back to the 1200's, this must be the most gargoyle-infested church I have ever seen. As you know, I am collectin g gargoyle photos for a friend. She will be impressed with this jackpot! One photo has over 100 statues and gargoyles in one picture!
I crossed the river back to the hostel for dinner, before taking my bag, camera and lenses to set off exploring Trondheim in the evening. The sun low in the sky, but hanging there for ages has given me more magic photos. i particularly liked some waterfront reflection photos.
Sometimes I have to really sniff out the spot to get the perspective I want, sometimes I see a shot but have to return at a better time of day, and then sometimes I have to wait for the sun or other things to do what I want, but when it all comes together....they are the photos you will see in my abridged slideshow.
I wandered the riverbank, getting nice reflections of buildings, then followed the harbour through town. It might have been 10pm, but I found a bar on the harbourfront with tables in the sun! It's Saturday night, so I had a beer. Spotting me on my own, I was invited to join a table of locals, which was fine, briefly, as they were so pissed they would ask me a question, slipping from English back to Norwegian and then ask me in English if I knew what they were talking about.
What's with Norwegians and alcohol? They are the only country to vote prohibition on themselves. The only bottleshops are government run and are called Vinmonoplet. Open very short hours and about as rare as a Dockers win. Scandinavians have a strange binge drinking culture no more evident than walking around on a Friday or Saturday night. It seems that 'controlling' something does nothing to stifle the demand. I hear that home distilleries are rife which is more of a worry, because get it wrong and the result will send you blind! With both cannabis and alcohol, it seems that government measures to crack down on a substance that some members of society enjoy, only drives the trade from the 'white' controlled market to the black market, with a loss of control over the quality, perhaps to the detriment of your citizens, as well as lost revenue in taxes.
I excused myself after that beer and continued wandering, as I do. Back streets and narrow alleyways - walk up these for the experiences others don't get.
As mentioned earlier, my mask and earplugs meant I had a great night's sleep, even in a dorm of 34.
Sunday - As the Bangles sang "...Sunday, that's my fun day, the I-don't-have-to-run day."
Too right! First impressions about this place have been shot to pieces. Not only is this the cheapest I have paid yet, and one of the friendliest, the breakfast is included and, unlike London (see England blog), is really good, including bread baked on the premises. So, I had some food and a coffee or two, while reading my first English language newspaper in awhile. Doesn't seem I've missed much. Oil price up, Israel fighting with a neighbour, and someone somewhere was racist! Amazing but true! Lazy morning because I can.
It was noon before I started wandering.
I walked along the river again, then saw a flag on top of a hill, my cue to climb that hill. No map, I headed upwards.
Tip for young players - if you keep heading upwards eventually you will get to the top of the hill!
I did, and WOW! what a view. It is an old fort, and surprisingly for Norway, was free! That didn't matter, as the view was priceless. After taking some panoramic pictures of Trondhiem, I sat on a grassy bank and read for awhile and enjoyed the sun and view.
Continuing my wanderings for today, I headed back into town.
By now I felt in need of lunch, but I'm learning that in Norway everything shuts on Sundays. Too bad if you want to eat! I found a bakery and had a sweet iced bun for lunch.
Time for the wandera to go tramming. Trondheim only has one tram line, so there wasn't the usual sense of randomness about it, but catch it to the end I did. The line wound upwards, affording me views of the city opposite to the hill I had climbed earlier. On topping the hill, it headed 'bush' or in this case forest.
On returning, I found a fruit shop open and purchased some fruit for now and a stash for tomorrow's train journey. MMmm! Nectarines.
i wandered the city some more before heading back to the hostel for dinner and beer.
This evening I went on a train journey to Hell and back!
I'd met a Swiss couple last night and today invited them to join me this evening on a train trip to Hell! What the? Hell!?
We each had rail passes so the journey was free, but that's not the point. Hell is a town 33 km from Trondheim.
The novelty of a town called Hell appealed and it was not lost on the conductor who laughed when we said where we were going. He even asked us to state clearly "We are going to Hell!".
We were the only people who got off! Hmmm! What to do with the 75 minutes before the next train back to Trondheim? Of course the obligatory photos in front of the railway station sign - Hell. Now it was time to find a bar for a drink before returning. Despite our wanderings, we were informed that there is not a bar for miles. No wonder they call it Hell!
Train back to Trondheim was preceded by an amazing moment that I must share. Standing on the platform for our train, a train came in the other direction and stopped, as they do. The driver got out and came over and asked us if we were going in his direction or not! I have never anywhere had a train driver take that initiative. Wow! Gotta love Norwegians for their friendliness and helpfullness.
The journey to Hell and back should rate a mention. It is a fantastic journey in and of itself. The track follows the shoreline all the way, so you have oceanfront views the whole half-hour journey.
Back in town, we stopped at Trondheim's microbrewery for a pint of Amber Ale. MMmm Beer!
That's Trondheim for me. Tomorrow morning, early, I leave for Bodo. It s a 10 hour journey, and way above the Arctic Circle, it's as far north as the trains go.
Keep smiling. The Wandera.