The Scandinavian Adventure: Trondheim

The Scandinavian Adventure: Trondheim

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Today’s first task was not, as one might think, to get breakfast. No, we actually had to do the laundry before that. First, after our clothes were clean and dry we had the chance to go to town to find a place to have a rather late breakfast at 2p.m.—not because we started the clothes washing so late but rather because it took half an eternity to dry our bike clothes.

Well, we finished the washing adventure eventually—unfortunately by then the nice weather of the early morning had changed into a grey and rainy sky—and found, on our way to town, a nice cafe which offered some tasty baguettes and a nice cup of tea.
Unfortunately, we did not have the time to really take it slow, because we had to meet up at the railway station to get our train tickets. Yesterday evening I had been able to get someone of the Norwegian Railway service to reserve some tickets for Solo and me, but—since we did this via chat and not via phone—we had not been able to pay for them. Had we done the reservation by phone we would have gotten our tickets from the conductor of the train. But now we had to go to the railway stations service point and actually get them ahead of our ride. Of course, this being a Sunday we were rather lucky they had opened at all because we still wanted to leave town early on Monday.

After all the vital chores were done we were finally ready to do some sightseeing. If there is one thing Trondheim is well known, for except its University—the NTNU—it must be its cathedral, which we were heading for now.

Nidarosdomen, Trondheim’s cathedral

The cathedral is said to be built on the grave of King Olaf the Holy—the king who was the first to adopt a Christian legislation in Norway in 1027 and who died, just a few years later, during the battle of Stiklestad on June 29th 1030. This did not grant him the title „the Holy“ though. What did that was more what happened after the battle. First of all the dead body of King Olaf had to be smuggled away from the battlefield so that it would not fall into the hands of his opponent. It was then buried on the shore of the River Nid. A solar eclipse was connected to the battle—one of the most famous battles in Norwegian history—which was defined as a message of heavenly disgust and a wound of a follower of King Olaf was said to have healed after some of the King’s blood touched it. About a year after the battle and King Olaf’s first funeral the grave was opened again and it turned out that not only was his body unharmed but his hair and nails had grown and he was red to his cheeks. Today, of course, at least the latter is scientifically explainable, but at the time it was most certainly enough for King Olaf to be declared a saint and a martyr by Bishop Grimkjell. The body of Saint Olaf was then put in a shrine and put on the high altar of Clemens Church.

Forty years after the death of Saint Olaf, King Olaf Kyrre built a church of stone over the grave of the saint.—Yes you will find many Scandinavian kings called Olav or Olaf, which is quite confusing when you are reading books like the tales of Kings by Snorre (Snorres Kongesagaer), as they are in one sentence just little children playing with each other and in the next one adults in some war against each other…—
This was the beginning of the building of the cathedral, which was finished in 1300. Unfortunately, it burned down multiple times in the following years and centuries so that in 1869 the church was pretty much lying in ruins. But the upcoming national consciousness of the 19th century also started the idea of rebuilding and restoring the church as a national treasure.
The restoration has taken part continuously in 130 years and is still ongoing…they say that whenever they finish restoring one part of the church they have to start another one.

We had spent some time inside the cathedral—unfortunately we had arrived too late for any guided tours—before, on our way out, we saw a sign indicating that we could climb the cathedral’s tower for an additional fee. Despite the weather, we decided to get the tickets for the climb and enjoy as much of the view as we could get.
There is only a restricted number of people allowed at each time to climb the tower as the staircase is narrow and slippery, so we had to wait for about half an hour before we could start our tour. We decided to spend a little time, constantly watching the clock, at the bishop’s residence.
Too sad we had been this late down at the cathedral, as the exhibitions in the bishop’s palace seemed interesting enough to capture one for a couple of hours and by the time we would have climbed down from the tower again the other parts of the area would be closed already.

Soon what little time we had, had passed and we made our way back into the cathedral to meet up with the guide and the other participants of the tower climb. I have climbed a few places like lighthouses and church towers before, none of these had ever included a security briefing like we went through here. Well, it wasn’t a long one, but those suffering from fear of height, heart conditions or asthma were asked to go in the back of the group so that they could turn back, should they feel incapable of getting all the way up. Had they gone in front it would have been impossible to pass the remaining upwards going group. None of our group had to turn back though. But yes, the staircase was really narrow and instead of a balustrade you enjoyed hanging onto a rope—as the guide had pointed out it was not built according to 21st centuries building standards. It was well worth the climb, and if the weather had been any better we would have been able to enjoy a really beautiful view over Trondheim.

Back down from the top of the tower Solo and I decided to head back to our room as there was not much sense in getting cold and wet in town anyway.

More plans to be made

In the evening Solo decided to find a pub to sit down and write some of his travel stories to be published on his website and since the weather hasn’t improved too much and I would be—if I was sitting next to him—more of a hindrance than anything else he went alone, while I stayed behind in our room and tried to plan our route for the next day.
We hadn’t booked railway tickets from Trondheim for Tuesday, but from Levanger some 80 kilometers north-east, because we wanted to use the Monday for another bike ride. Unfortunately, I had some serious difficulties finding a route that would not have us cycling on the E6 alongside with trailers and caravans without knowing if there was a shoulder for us to ride on or not.
Eventually, I found one that looked as if it would work out. And by the time I had finished plotting it into my GPS, the weather had improved quite a bit too.
Now I would have liked to go out for a short walk, maybe take some photos in the evening’s light. But unfortunately, with Solo, our only key for the room had left too. So not only would I not have had a chance to get back into our room, but I wouldn’t even have had a chance to get it locked behind me…
If only I had noticed that earlier on…
All I could do now was to try to fall asleep to stop me from getting really p… about it.
I cannot say that it improved my mood a lot that, when he finally returned, Solo told me how nice the sky had looked when he walked back to our room. Of course, by the time he told me, it was too late to get out again…
Lesson learned: if you share a room with a friend during a bike ride, make sure you both get a key to it…

If you liked this post, you might also like the other stories from my Scandinavian Adventure:

You can find more photos from Norway on my website.

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