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Norway in July
Rating: (4.9) (32 Votes)

Troudheim, Norway,
July 5th 2004

Pros: Very Friendly
Cons: Aquavit eh Kjell!

Well we finally made it over the border to Norway. We took the train to Trondheim which is in the middle of Norway. Trondheim was the capital of Norway before Oslo took over. There is tremendous history in this city as it is was the centre of power for much of Scandanavia and the northern part of the British Isles from about the 10th century until the 19th century. It is the home of an amazing cathedral which was originally constructed in about 1035 over the buriel spot of King Olav after he became Saint Olav. King Olav was known for converting all of Scandanavia from the worship of Norse Gods to Christianity. He wasn't particularily loved for this as his method of conversion was 'Convert or Die' Following his death at Stiklestad 1030 the king's body was brought to Trondheim and buried. The coffin kept rising to the surface and after a year of re-burying him they finally opened the coffin and found him to be rosy cheeked and smelling of fresh air, this being considered a miracle, King Olav became St Olav.

We took a tour of the Cathedral which in its 1000 year history has had a few fires (sounds like a Monty Python sketch)and had to be rebuilt. The latest renovations was started in 1869 and finished 100 years later. The church is made almost entirely of soap stone which was mined locally. The carvings are incredible. Even up close the detail was amazing. We heard an organ recital on a pipe organ that was installed in the church in the 1700's. The accoustics were awe inspiring. Part of the tour was a climb up to the tower via 170 spiral stairs. The staircase was so narrow that I had to turn sideways in places to fit through. Not for the claustrophobic. A terrific view of the decorative carvings on the top of the church and the surrounding city.

We stayed in a funky hostel called the Interrail which is a student owned and run building (Trondheim is a University Town)and was originally purchased by the students in 1910. Even the new stuff in this town is really old. The weather was sunny and warm on the day we arrived so we were able to dry out all of our backpacking stuff. We stayed in a room that had about 30 beds in it but we both had pretty good sleeps.

After Trondheim we headed North to visit my cousin Helen and her Husband Kjell in Verdal. Had to go through Hell to get there though. No really, the train went through the town of Hell. Its a small station but there is a sign on the side of the train station building that says, and I quote "Hell, Gods Expedition" Gods Expedition is Norweigan for (loosely translated) Freight Expediting.

Anyway, having never met my cousin Helen, Jacquie and I were a bit nervous about going to stay with them. Our concerns were gone the moment that we steppped off of the train in Verdal and say Cousin Helen waving a Canadian Flag on the platform. We spent three days with Helen and Kjell and had a super time. It was like our home away from home. It rained pretty much the whole time we were in Verdal but we were toured around a bit and had lots of time to relax and enjoy some traditional food and drink. Watch out for that Aquavit eh Kjell!

From Verdal we headed off to Bergen which is on the west coast of Norway. It is situated in amounst what seems like thousands of islands. Jacquie and I stayed at a Christian Hostel just outside the train station and met a number of students from Wheaton College in Chicago who were in town doing mission work at the hostel and looking after things while the normal hostel crew took holidays. A really good bunch of young people. We enjoyed our stay and enjoyed the free laundry. We did a couple of day hikes while in Bergen one to summit one of the islets to the west of Bergen and the other was the Vidden Traverse which is a 5 hour hike. It could have been a bit shorter but Jacquie and I are cheap and hiked up the side of the mountain rather than paying for the gondola. It was a really nice day (a bit foggy) and we got some nice views of the city and the fjords. The sheep that were grazing all over the mountain kept us company with their bleating and bell ringing.

We are planning to head to Stavanger by Ferry and will report from there. Thanks for tuning in.