Written 5th August
Fishie supper! Wohoo! But I'll get to that...
Unfortunately, our arrival in Trondheim was more nightmare than dream-like and did nothing to disabuse us of our conviction that we have had enough of cities. We didn't know anything about the place other than it has mediaeval origins, an old town and a tip off that there was an aire by the stadium and we went in with a general expectation that Norway's cities would be a motorhome friendly as Norway's countryside. And sadly we were proved wrong on both those last counts.
There was very little in the way of traffic but also very little in the way of useful signage and a lot in the way of traffic lights. All of which seemed conspired against us. And with Jules protesting at every enforced stop by cutting its engine, flashing all of its cross little red dashboard lights and refusing to go again - the van equivalent of of lying on the floor, kicking its legs in the air and throwing a purple screaming fit like you see with small children in supermarkets, except that with a van you can neither drag it across the floor nor walk away while it screams itself out - it was not much fun for all concerned.
And to make matters worse, Trondheim seemed destined to be the exception which proves our generally held rule that there is always free parking, you just have to be prepared to go far enough out of the centre to find it. We found the stadium eventually but the 'aire' was just the carpark which turned into pay parking by 8am the following morning and once we got out of the pay parking zone, all the streets were either 'no stopping' or 'residents only'. Rubbish. What are the mobile population of Norway supposed to do here?
Just as we were on the verge of giving up, we found an unmarked hilltop residential street where other people were parked on the road and stopped on the only flat bit we could find at the crest of the hill. Done. Thank god.
We did get a nice quiet, undisturbed night's sleep but in the morning we found Will had left the lights on so the battery was completely flat. Wouldn't have minded being disturbed to be told about that. Ridiculous countries where you have to have your lights on all the time.
Still, nothing we could do. Even if we had got it started then and there, it would still cost us to drive on the ring road out of the city and we know for sure there is nowhere else to park in town so best just left for now. And so we headed down the hill into town on our bikes.
And fortunately, after all that, it was very pleasant :) and Trondheim has the world's first (and only?) bicycle lift. So there you go.
In its impressive Domkirke (cathedral), the city boasts the largest mediaeval building in Scandinavia and King Olav Haraldsson, aka St Olav, was buried there in 1030. It was he who ended the worship of the Nordic gods in Norway by converting the country to Christianity and since his burial there, the church has been not only the burial place of many Norwegian kings but also the country's coronation church and the repository of the crown jewels. And as St Olav's day is 29th July, we caught the last day of the St Olav's festival, which was all rather jolly.
Well he looked quite jolly so we set out to find him. Which turned into a challenge of Where's Wally proportions. Eventually we gave up and asked in the gift shop where the woman gave me a series of directions which involved a certain number of steps in two directions from an unclear point somewhere over the otherside of the square and then looking at the parapet, counting flowers and he will appear... Hmmm the da vinci code was easier to follow than that!
complete with mediaeval stone masons,
and stalls with mystic jewellery, glass stuff, woolly hats and socks and even ye olde toffee apples.
You have to pay to go into the museum and the crown jewels treasury But unexpectedly the military and resistance museum turned out to be free. So a happy hour or so was passed learning some of Norway's history: union with Denmark, peace treaties and wars with Sweden which led respectively to loss and regaining of land , cession by Denmark to Sweden, eventual peaceful independence in 1905, popular vote to be a monarchy but lack of royalty so appointment of a Danish prince, neutrality in WWI and Nazi occupation in 1940. Apparently the germans were in almost overnight in April 1940 and with all the major cities taken by surprise, it was only two months before the country capitulated. But lots of tales of resistance derring-do involving norwegian fishing boats and the like. The swift victory of the Nazis has left a lasting legacy in the founding of the home guard, a conscripted defence force ready to spring from their day jobs into action, which includes some 5,000 fishing boats which can all be armed and dangerous in defence of the high seas, should ever the need arise. So there you go.
and up to the fortress for the view,
And we rounded off our day with some St Olav's day festive Dixieland jazz outside one of the hotels, gazing wistfully at the glasses of wine being held aloft in the adjacent pavement café.
But we can't spend all afternoon sitting around on kerbs watching jazz, we've got a van to start. So back up the hill we went.
Now, as I said, we're parked at the crest of a hill. Easy you say, one little push, roll downhill, jump start, job done, Robert is your mother's brother.
We stopped midway for a picture
When the small child on one side of us distainfully landed his fifth or sixth fish and the couple next to us, who told us it was their first ever go hooked a big fish out each within minutes of turning up, we decided enough was enough and slunk off back to the van to eat our fish free pasta dinner and watch the sunset. I think i'll stick to Wii Fishing in future, I'm far better at that...
But no. If it started out looking fish-like to us, it clearly didn't to any actual fish - or if it did, it was some kind of sick fish with dementia who couldn't swim. And after a few trawls through the water, the tinfoil unravelled itself so it was just bolt-like. So, again despite merry fisherpeople surrounding us, we were once more destined to be fishless and whilst it was pleasant enough on the bridge in the sun, it was somewhat spoilt by the exercise in futility so we gave up. Time to be back on the road, even if, what with petrol and ferries, we are once more bouncing off the bottom of this week's budget.
Will went off to set himself up whilst I stayed behind just long enough to slice some bread for lunch joking "just try not to catch anything before I get there...!"
Well, he clearly didn't try hard enough as there was already a fish on the end of his line by the time I had sliced six bits of bread and walked on the the gantry!
After an hour we decided five fish were enough for dinner - feeling particularly smug as you can imagine as there were definitely some better equipped looking people who went away empty handed! Although I think I somewhat spolt the cool professional fishing image with the undignified sqeals of excitement - and set about wondering how to cook our little shoal.
As you may remember, the original fishing rod dream back in portugal was catching fish and cooking them on a drift wood fire on a beach in the setting sun. Well, substitute beach for rocky shoreside layby and we're pretty much there!
Will had spotted an old pallet washed up on the rocks the previous evening so we set about retrieving it - well you have to do your bit for keeping norway's coastline clean! - and made short work of dismantling it using his enormous screwdriver, his enormous AJ, the big pliars and a surprisingly resiliant tiny freebie penknife we got from my dad. Excellent.
Red sliver of moon just rising over the horizon: check.
Driftwood bbq: check. Fresh fish caught with our own fair hands wrapped in tin foil with salt and tarragon: check.
As the Cat would say: "I'm gonna eat you little fishie. I'm gonna eat you little fishie. I'm gonna eat you little fishie cos I like eating fish!
Mmm mmm mmmmmmmm