Today we left the Lofoten behind us. But before that we had until the early afternoon to stroll around in Svolvær, before our ferry would take us back to Bodø.
Yesterday we had talked about a possible ride back to Kabelvåg to visit the Lofoten Cathedral, which we only had seen from outside, and sure enough we were spoiled with the weather today too. But without discussing we dropped that idea, since we both knew it would also mean to sit in sweaty clothes for more than two days on ferries and in trains without a chance to get cleaned up again.
Yet it wasn’t wrong to not visit the cathedral yesterday — after all saving those minutes might have made the difference between getting the last room in Svolvær and not getting it…
Maybe there will be a time when I will have the chance to go back and visit all those places that we haven’t been able to visit during this ride?
But for today we figured to take a ride to Kuba, one of the many small islands near Svolvær and connected to it by a bridge. Yesterday’s evening stroll had given us a first impression of what we might find there. Due to my bike crash two days ago we didn’t take the time to stop for taking photos of drying racks of cod — one of the many places we thought to go back to in the evening but never did. But on Kuba I had seen some from the distance, so today I got my chance to photograph drying racks for cod.
Dried cod to save a country
The dried cod once saved Norway from starvation as there was a high demand for dried fish in the southern European catholic countries during the lenten season.
Norway had first suffered badly from the Black Death and was afterwards hit by a longer period of poor harvests in the mid 1300s. German based merchants offered to bring grains into the country in exchange for the monopoly of selling the dried cod from the Lofoten on the continent.
What seemed like an easy way out of misery for Norway turned into a very long period where the country basically depended on the German salesmen. And even though the Hanse was discontinued at some point, the merchant’s guilt in Bergen continued obeying to the old rules and even kept the language until as late as 1899.
But without the dried cod from the Lofoten, Norway would probably have starved to death. Without granting this monopoly to the merchants of the Hanse, Norwegian salesmen might not have had a chance to sell their cod in the continental — Hanse controlled — market.
So this Island chain in the north of Norway, with its rich fishing grounds, once saved the country.
Today it is a very well-known tourist location, and from what I have seen in the past two days the Lofoten deserve the praise that they are getting for their beautiful landscape.
I wished we’d had more time to spend here, to extend the ride on the Lofoten to a two week ride and just enjoy the scenery and have the time to visit some of the museums and churches…maybe even to take a tour onto some mountain top.
But this time we had not. We are going to continue our ride in Denmark in a couple of days, so now we need to make our way back south.
After a four hour boat tour from Svolvær we returned to Bodø, with two hours to spare before our train would leave for Trondheim. Just enough time to first find out where the railway station was and then have a short dinner at some nearby pub.
A long ride to Trondheim on the train
We knew from yesterday’s phone call with the NSB service which rail car we would be on, and we knew which seats we had, so it was rather easy to figure out where to go on this train. Once the conductor approached us for our tickets it was also clear that the communication between the trains conductor and the NSB service had worked well, as he right away told us ”who we were” and he repeated that we had to pick up our tickets for the next train from Trondheim at the railway station in Trondheim. But that was at more than ten hours away now…
The train would ride through the night, which during the summer this far north never really gets dark. Solo decided to go into the restaurant rail car to write his own blog and I followed him for company. This time we passed the Svartisen Glacier from the other side of the mountain in nice weather, and while enjoying the scenery I fell asleep, until gently woken up by Solo who told me to go to sleep at our place. I could stretch out…well as far as one can stretch out…using both our seats, while he continued to write. It was a rough night, though, and I cannot say that I slept very well…it might have been worth paying the additional 800NOK to get access to a sleeping car and a full sized bed…
Once more we would be seeing Mo i Rana from the train’s window — if we could stay awake so long — until finally reaching Trondheim at 7 in the morning.
After we got our tickets at the railway station in Trondheim, we had still about 6 hours left before our final train to Oslo would leave. We were lucky in regard to the weather as it was a warm sunny day, which we decided to use for some more sightseeing. After we had breakfast at the cafe we discovered on our first visit to Trondheim, which now seemed months ago, we took a ride toward the bike elevator. Solo wanted to try it out, but it soon turned out that one needs some practice to use this thing, and a first attempt with a fully loaded bike was not necessarily the best idea. Eventually we made our way up the hill, without the help of the elevator, to spend some time at the Kristiansten festning (Fortress Kristiansten), a bright white building that we had spotted but not visited during our first visit.
On the night of 19 April 1681, Trondheim experienced the biggest and most destructive of many town fires. Afterwards, King Christian V asked Major General Jean Caspar de Cicignon and his chief of staff Quartermaster General Anthony Coucheron to prepare a new plan for the city and its fortification.
A completely new network of streets was built, with wide streets in accordance with the Baroque ideal and fortifications around the city centre. The result was a fortress town based on the Continental model, surrounded by fortified ramparts to the south and west, and with two tower fortresses – Munkholmen out on the fjord to the north of the city and Kristiansten, on a hill above the city – as free-standing forts. Kristiansten was completed in 1684.
The fortress was expanded and maintained in connection with the Great Northern War in the early 18th century and up until the dissolution of Norway’s union with Denmark in 1814, and it was regarded as a strategically important fortress for Denmark-Norway. Naturally, after the union with Sweden, attacks from land were no longer seen as a threat to the city. The fortress served as a fire watch station, which meant that the fortress saw at least a minimum of maintenance until it eventually came to be regarded solely as a historical monument.
The most dominant part of the fortress is the Donjon, a four-storey tower with gun slits surrounded by jagged ramparts that provided cover, and with munitions rooms and gun emplacements. The modest Commandant’s Quarters, which were built at the end of the 18th century, are also situated inside the walls. Right outside the main gate is the Haubitz depot, which was built in 1916. The place where members of the Norwegian resistance were executed during World War II is in the central keep.
Today, Kristiansten Fortress is Norway’s best preserved 17th century tower fortress, and the characteristic donjon can be seen from all over Trondheim. While most of the bastions around the city centre are now gone, Kristiansten Fortress has survived and is Norway’s most intact tower fortress, despite the King’s decision in 1816 that the Fortress was to be closed down and left ‘to the ravages of time’. Large parts of the grounds around Kristiansten Fortress are now open to the public. Today, the fortress is used for salutes, for historical dissemination purposes, for cultural events, recreation and walking.
The military engineer corps played a part in developing the city and the fortress in Trondheim up until the beginning of the 19th century, and the military activities and art of fortification were forerunners of what is now the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Norway’s most important centre for education and research in the natural sciences.
We spent some time visiting the Donjon and its exhibition as well as the fortress, before we decided that it was time for a break at the fortress’s cafe. The cafe was supposed to open at around 11a.m., or so we thought. So we waited for some time for someone to open the door for us. 11a.m. passed, and when at 11:10a.m. still no one had arrived to open the doors, we took a closer look to discover that it actually was closed on Mondays…
So we left the fortress and got on our way to visit the Nidarosdomen of Trondheim one more time. This time we wanted to take a closer look on the outside features of the cathedral, which we hadn’t done when we visited the first time due to the not so convincing weather back then.
As so often before, time flew by and soon it was time to get back to the railway station to get onto the train to Oslo, where we arrived after an almost 7 hour long ride on the train.
We had spent 18 days to get from Oslo to Bodø by bike, train and boat…after only 29 hours on boats and trains with some time to spend in Trondheim, we arrived back in Oslo.
Now it was time to get our equipment cleaned and repaired before the next part of our adventure would start just a couple of days later…