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Posts tagged ‘trondheim’

re-inventing your past ;)

I am pretty sure I have blood on my hands.  I am at least half Viking – and given the mayhem the Vikings allegedly caused in my other homelands, I may well be a little more…

I have now finished Colin Thubron’s excellent book, “Shadow of the Silk Road” and questions of ancestry, tribe and history are subjects he addresses over the course of many nation states, ethnic groups and shared versions of history (accurate or not).  Reinvention is not a modern concept.

We have always lived in half-truths, in perceptions, in mythology.  History is an imperfect science so we never know exactly what happened in the past – although it is getting a lot harder in the age of social media.

But, luckily for the Vikings, there were no selfies or embarrassing posts on Facebook of the pillage you were hoping to forget… so Vikings can do a little rearranging of history without anyone being able to know for sure if it is just wishful thinking.

My knowledge of ancient history is improving but it is still shaky so I keep an open mind when it comes to the Vikings.  No society is composed of only bad guys – and you need to understand the context in which people behave before you can even consider passing judgement of any kind.

norwegians like boats!

This is the right mindset in which to enter Trondheim (the next stop on Hurtigruten).  It used to be called Nidaros and was Norway’s first capital city.  It was a port of departure for Viking expeditions.  Apparently Leif Eriksson is Leiv Eiriksson in Norway, the dude who discovered Canada – Viking no matter what direction I turn 🙂

I take a little issue with the Hurtigruten info that says the first export of American goods to Europe took place in Trondheim in 1100 AD.  That stuff came from CANADA, dude 🙂  At the time, I think it just came from Newfoundland.  But not America…

The really big thing to see in Trondheim is the Cathedral.  I have

cathedral of many genres

cathedral of many genres

seen a lot of churches!  This is country 48… but I was impressed!  It is something new.  A little Viking, a little Gothic, a little Baroque… a piece of history, which is always more messy than people seem to remember.

you decide if he was really a saint...

you decide if he was really a saint…

It’s not too often a Viking becomes a saint and is the centrepiece of the market square.  It’s not clear if he was a great guy – or just a great politician.  But it does seem Vikings elected leaders so it’s nice to see some non-royal on display.  Someone who had to do something for that sainthood beyond just be born into the right family…

 

 

 

fast – but not furious :)

Going on a Hurtigruten ship is an experience in Norwegian history.  It is the only Norwegian word I really know – “hurtig” means fast.  It all came about in 1893 when a young entrepreneur named Captain Richard With left Trondheim on a steamship named “Vesteraalen” sailing into Hammerfest to a cheering crowd in 67 hours – a half hour early!

the view in the rain...

the view in the rain…

When Captain With took the challenge to create an express boat service between Trondheim and Hammerfest, there were only two marine charts and 28 lighthouses north of Trondheim.  He was a pioneer in Norwegian history and helped to foster the economic powerhouse that is modern day Norway.

Ships have been operating on the Coastal Express for over 100 years.  Since 1936, a Coastal Express ship has left Bergen heading north every day – with some minor interruption when Norway was occupied by the Nazis of course.  The names of the Coastal Express ship company has changed over the years, from Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab in 1893 to the much easier to pronounce Hurtigruten today.

I’ve almost finished my journey so we’re going back to nostalgia mode now.  Leaving Bergen is dramatic.  These are lots of excursions you can take from the ship and I think it’s worthwhile to research them before you leave home and decide what is most likely to rock your boat.  Nothing is cheap in Norway so I decided to just see what I could see from the ship – a mini adventure.  Some people have booked the excursions just so they have someone to guide them back to the ship.  It really depends on how good your sense of direction is.  The towns are pretty tiny though so it’s not hard to find your way home.

If you go on the excursions, the days will likely feel much more hectic.  If you just follow the ship’s timetable, there is lots of downtime.  If you go later in the season, it’s likely fun to hang out on deck or pop into the Jacuzzi.  It’s not a cruise ship so there aren’t many activities on board but there is lots to see out the window and you can eat and drink pretty much all day and night.  Internet is not 21st century but you can generally find a signal.  And you can always pile on your fleece and walk around on deck 5 to snap photos without glass in the way.

Your first stop will be Alesund.  If you’re lucky, it will not be raining.  I was not so lucky but persevered and found my

view from the top of the 418 steps!

view from the top of the 418 steps!

way (after a few false starts) to the 418 steps to the top of Aksla mountain.  It wasn’t too bad but I was breathing heavy for the last 50 steps.  People coming down encouraged me to keep climbing, saying it was worth it – so I did the same for other tourists when it was my turn to come down.

It is worth it, even on a rainy day.  I can imagine it would be glorious on a sunny one.  Alesund is definitely worth checking out.  Norwegians are keen on building wooden houses – and then burning them down it seems.  I guess it gets boring in remote places…

The town of Alesund burnt to the ground in 1904 so was rebuilt in the Art Nouveau style, making it one of the more intriguing cute towns in Europe.  This is also a gateway to the Geiranger Fjord I gather – but not until June…

Perhaps I will return someday when the sun is shining and boats are sailing in the Geiranger Fjord? 🙂

 

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