A brief stop this morning at Otta, just to confirm there were no otters (sadly, no) then we off Northwest, up Highway 6 on our way to Trondheim, at the mouth of the Trondheimfjorden.
The first part of our drive offers a unique landscape, dwarfed silver birches, gnarled by decades in harsh conditions. These are old trees but they are barely my height. Instead of growing straight, they’ve bent over in bonsai miniature. There’s very little green too; great swathes of trees are brown. It must have been been a savage winter. It looks like a dystopian version of the future of forests and is a little unsettling.
Chris accuses me of being spoilt by the stunning fjord scenery. He may have a point. I have many weaknesses, but the one I’ll confess to most readily is a weakness for beauty. As with all things I love, I can be gluttonously greedy for it. It’s why I’m happiest with camera in hand, on my knees trying to capture the perfection of a flower, a perfect scenery shot or a bumble’s furry butt. It’s why those sad little trees make me wish for a U turn to bolt back to the fjords and their breathtakingly surreal beauty.
The sad trees pass to open to farmland.
There reason that everything is expensive in Norway – there’s less than 3% arable land here. We pass around half of it today: the centre of Norway is its food bowl. Endless farms unfold before us with their beautiful red, white and blue wooden houses and barns. Many of the crops are grain, in endless tones of green and gold.
The further north we go, the fewer are harvested. I’m guessing that the sun is gentler the higher we go, it probably takes longer for crops to ripen. Most farmers bale, but occasionally we see a crop drying on old fashioned frames – rows of X shaped sticks. Every so often we see pink bales – these are in support of breast cancer research, Google reliably informs me.
Everyone has a water view, be it fjord, lake or river. There’s an endless supply of water, and all of it is glorious.
We’re soon at Trondheim, deemed a town in 997 by King Olav, and for a time, capital of Norway. King Olav was cannonised in 1031 and promptly interred in the site which now forms the towns grandest church, the Nidaros cathedral. It’s undergone a few incarnations since then and is built in a combination of Norman, Romanesque and Gothic styles.
Much of the original town was razed by fire then rebuilt and many buildings therefore date from the Middle Ages. The cathedral is no exception. It is the oldest medieval structure in Norway. It’s unusual in that it’s entirely made of unfinished stone, highly ornate both inside and out, with a huge rose window
Sadly, no photos are allowed inside, but we do have the treat of a christening in progress with many women in national costume. It’s apparently the done thing for formal events – long deep green or blue woollen skirts, white shirts and cross stitched pinafores. They look fabulous.
The Catholics also have presence in Var Frue Kirke, a much more modest 12th century affair (with additions in the 1700s) but with an extraordinarily fancy alter. It actually came from another church in 1837. As we step out, I see a girl, dressed in her finery and an exceptionally high pair of heels, legging it with her boyfriend. They’ve turned up at the wrong church. Oops. I don’t envy her that walk in those heels.
We potter about and get a bit lost in our search for Bryggen, the restored warehouses and wharves on the Nidevla river. We get there eventually and its worth the trouble. The warehouses form a colour frame to the river on both sides, connected by an old wooden bridge. It’s very picturesque.
I succumb to an excellent afternoon coffee, which I pay dearly for later (ho, hum, 3 am and no sleep for me…) and then it’s back on the road to travel a little further before stopping for the night.
We’re near water, of course, and with no nightfall I’m free to walk in the woods, look for squirrels and marvel at the light into the wee hours.