Thursday, February 24, 2011

Over the Roof and through the Woods...

The day after Christmas we packed up our bags, said good bye to Lillehammer and grabbed the train to Trondheim. We tried to buy some beers to bring with us but Norway is very tight with their rules for selling alcohol- only government run liquor stores can sell it and Lillehammer only had one, it was closed for a week over the holidays.

For 4 hours we traveled in our comfy (if not overly warm) train seats, sharing our 4 set with a Norwegian teacher who pointed out many things we would not have know about otherwise.  The forests again were beautiful with their heavy covering of snow. And as we climbed higher and higher into the mountains our teacher explained that the route we were on followed the pilgrim's route between Oslo and Trondheim. High up in these frigid mountains people would trek, even in the winter. There are mountain stations throughout the land where people can rest and stay for a bit. BRRRRRRRR!

The forests soon gave way to bushes and scrub. The light again was fantastic. The train slowed to a stop and we were told we were atop the Dovrefjell. It's considered the midway point of the country, dividing north and south. It's also part of what they call the Roof of Norway. The highest area in the middle of the country. 

The train stopped so that they could change conductors and for about 15 minutes we gazed out at this beautiful if not barren land. It was quiet and still and stunning. 
Just as we started up again I glanced out my window and saw wild reindeer running! Of course the camera was turned off and they were only in view for a moment but yeah! Reindeer! On the roof of Norway! Surely this is where Santa is from :)

The train was filled with skiers (natch) and we stopped at various ski resorts letting them off. In the restaurant/bar car there were floor to ceiling picture windows where you could sit in lounge chairs and take in the scenery. 

It was dark when we arrived in the port city of Trondheim (3:30pm) and we bundled up for the short walk to our hotel the Rica Nidelven. A business hotel of sorts but modern and very nice with a little bar (that closed at 6pm) and right on the water. Trondheim is the 3rd largest city in Norway with a population of about 170k people (compare that with Seattle at around 640k just in the city proper!) and the most north we would get in Norway. From the end of May till the end of July the sun never sets on this cute little town.

After settling in to our hotel we went out to explore. Once the capitol of Norway and founded in 997 (!) it has always been a place of shipping and trading. We passed by the cute old warehouses now refurbished as condos, restaurants and shops along the river. 

We came upon the Nadaros Cathedral, strikingly lit. It's the largest church in Norway and the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world! Surrounded by it's graveyard (as we noticed other churches in Norway have) it was both beautiful and spooky. 

By now we were feeling the cold, around 10F (it's so much warmer near the water, ha!) so we headed back to our hotel.  Through town, past the Christmas tree in the center and the cheery holiday lights. We may have stopped at a 7-11 for a chocolate covered waffle snack... as you do.

Our friend Caitlin was flying in from London and as we waited for her we sampled some of the local aquavit at our hotel bar. Dayne then made us martinis for our traditional happy hour and later we went out and had a great dinner of Norwegian style tapas at Bakgarden Bar

Additional photos here!

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