Norway on Fire!
The recent terrible fire a few years ago n the historic Heritage village of Laederdalsoyn, where over 30 wooden buildings were destroyed, reminded me of my trip to the Norwegian region of Trondelag.
The historical Capital, Trondheim, is almost an island.
It has 180,000 inhabitants and 30,000 students.
Everything’s within walking distance, or an easy bus ride away.
Bicycles are a popular form of transport, despite some of the steep hills.
I was impressed by a bicycle lift beside the road, which the bike is placed on, and it carries it up the hill. Very simple but effective!
Trondheim was founded in 997.
We walked over the river bridge to Bakklandet where there are a lot of restored warehouses, over 300 years old, and the Cathedral, which was built on the grave of St Olav. (See my earlier Norway article.)
In 1681 the City burnt down. And an area of it burnt down again in modern times.
It has been restored and modernised, and I’m not sure if I like it or not!
Opposite our hotel is the Rockheim, the new interactive museum of Norwegian rock and pop music. It’s worth a visit.
In the evening we walked to Norway’s only aquavit Bar, Pub Carl Johan.
The world famous Lysholm Linie Aquavit, or Water of Life, was developed accidentally in Trondheim. In 1805 the merchant Lyshol filled a sailing ship with oak barrels, dried fish, and other goods. In Batavia, (now Jakarta) in Indonesia, the goods were bartered, but the spirit went back to Trondheim in 1807. The ship’s movement, high humidity and fluctuating temperature accelerated the maturity and gave the Aquavit its unique flavour.
It’s now matured for at least 6 months in wooden sherry casks.
They say that Aquavit is the best thing that can’t cure a cold!
In the morning we had breakfast at Rica Nidelven Hotel, about a 5 minutes’ walk from our hotel. It’s won the award for Norway’s Best Hotel breakfast for 7 years in a row.
I don’t think I even got to see everything that was set out on the buffet tables! It was all fresh and healthy-ish! There was no mass-produced rubbish at all.
And yes, it was great fun, and an eating experience that I’d love to repeat.
After a relaxed train journey thought the Trondelag Countryside for around 2 ½ hours, we arrived at Roros. It’s one of the oldest wooden towns in Europe, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1980.
Lunch was at the Bergstaden Hotel. It really was outstanding, both for its flavours, and for the effort put in to preparing it.
Sik is a local fresh-water white fish from the nearby lake. It was served 3 ways; marinated, smoked, and salted, accompanied by moss, cooked in vinegar, then fried, beetroot cream, and bread made from the bark of a tree! Then we had elk, creamed mushrooms and a potato soufflé.
Oh, the flavour of those mushrooms! I’ve never tasted anything like them!
And then we had Brunost ice-cream. Brunost is Norwegian brown, caramelised cheese.
I had seconds!
How’s this for impressive? The local chefs get up early and go foraging in the forest for mushrooms, herbs, and edible plants.
Now that’s what you call dedication!
Roros is 600mts above sea level. It was started as a mining town in 1644, to mine copper, iron and zinc.
The mine is further away, but the town was built where it is because the river powered the furnace. The area was surrounded by forest, but it was all cut down within 50 years.
All the inhabitants were immigrants, mainly Germans. They brought the art of brewing beer with them, plus hunting.
Swedish troops would invade the town and rob it. Sweden is only 50kms away.
Roros formed its own Militia, but they were invaded again in 1718 and the Swedish torched the town.
There were about 2,000 employees. They only worked dayshifts, and they had weekends free so the furnace could cool off, be cleaned out and then re-lit.
It burnt down at least 8 times!
Roros is beautiful and the air is healthy now, but it must have been terribly polluted then. Diseases must have been rife, and they could probably hardly see across the road through the smoke and dust!
Now the area around the old furnace looks volcanic. It’s a protected slag heap. You’re not even allowed to pick up a small bit of the metal rubbish as a souvenir!
The Church is the 5th largest church in Norway. It has 1,600 seats. The poor used to sit upstairs and the rich downstairs.
At first glance it looks as though it’s built of marble. But it’s a marbled effect on wood.
There are over 100 listed buildings in this small town. They’re protected. If you bought a house you were supposed to live in it, not rent it out or use it as a 2nd home.
This was to avoid the town becoming deserted and the houses standing empty as holiday homes. But now there are problems when people die as their descendents don’t always want to live in Roros!
A lot of the residents are working artists. The town is perfect for them!
The High Street is an optical illusion. It’s wide at the bottom, where the wealthier houses are, and narrow at the top.
Some of the houses have grass roofs. I really believed it was to feed goats, etc. But apparently it’s good insulation.
Vertshuset, our hotel, is an old textile factory, built in 1844.
The main building is at the front, and behind it are the original wooden buildings of the factory.
My room was full of character, but up a flight of steep wooden stairs, which wasn’t easy with a suitcase.
Down in the cellar is a micro-brewery, where they brew a selection of beers in a very small area!
Dinner was lovely, and so was breakfast.
I had some of the delicious brown cheese.
We went on the local Food Safari, first visiting a reindeer butcher’s.
Only the ethnic Sami people are allowed to deal in reindeer. September-January is reindeer season.
There are also herds of wild reindeer.
80% of Norwegian women still own a National Costume, which varies from region to region. We stopped for lunch 2 kms from the Swedish border, and the lady was beautifully dressed. She and her family have started a festival to revive and preserve the old recipes.
As we were so near Sweden, the driver kindly drove me there while the others were still eating. I got out and walked around, so that I can add Sweden to the Countries that I’ve visited!
I loved the deer farm. I was allowed to feed them. They were quite happy to come right up to me as long as I didn’t try to pet them.
Then we caught a small plane to Oslo. It was late arriving.
The pilot announced, ‘I’m sorry about this being lately, m-m, and I hope it won’t give you trouble.’
I can’t imagine anything in Norway giving me trouble. It’s as near to perfection as any Country that I’ve visited. If I’d known about it a few years ago I’d have moved there – but I’d have filled my house with fire extinguishers!
Do listen to the 2013 viral hit What Does the Fox say? by brothers Vegard and Bard Ylvisaker, known as Ylvis. It’s the biggest Norwegian hit since Aha!
What the Fox?!
Norwegian Air flies directly from London Gatwick to Trondheim, from £34.90 one way
www.norwegian.comTrain to Røros, from 249 NOK (£25) one way
www.nsb.noLounge at Gatwick:
Viking feast: 995 NOK (£100) per person (groups only)
Day activities at Stiklestad: adults 170 NOK (£180), children 70 NOK (£73) and families 350 NOK (£40).
Accommodation: Rica Stiklestad, double rooms from 1050 NOK (£110) per night
Accommodation: Clarion Hotel & Congress
Double room incl breakfast: from 1.080 NOK (£110) per night
Price: adult NOK 100, senior/student NOK 70, child NOK 50
www.rockheim.noUrban kayaking with Trondheim Kajakk
Price: From 350 NOK (£37) per person, approx. 2 hours
www.trondheimkajakk.noAquavit tasting at Pub Carl Johan, Norway’s only aquavit bar
Book in advance for minimum three persons: History of the Aquavit, three different Aquavits, one beer and a taste of food from 400 NOK (ca £42) per person
Local food safari: