I was surprised at the amount of traffic on the road on which we travelled north from Trondheim today. Now that I have Googled it, I am not at all surprised. (You can find out almost anything on Googhle). It turns out that Route E6, on which we were driving, is the main north-south road through Norway, It is 3,100 km long, beginning on the west coast of Sweden in the south, running through most of Norway – north to the Arctic Circle, and ending in Kirkenes, close to the Russian border.
Leaving Trondheim, the road was a four-lane highway and later became a two-lane road. It was very well made and a very smooth road on which to drive. It had its usual number of tunnels (many) that went under almost every hill along the way. I was also surprised by the number of speed cameras along the way (at least near Trondheim) – almost one immediately after every change of speed limit.
Further south, most of the agriculture that we have seen was dairy farming and sheep grazing. In this area, today, it was grain growing. None of the crops have been harvested yet, so the countryside was a a beautiful patchwork of undulating gold. I don’t know which grains are grown here – perhaps a cool climate variety of wheat.
Farms here are quite predictable in consisting of a house and one, or more, large barns. We counted the number of cows in the few dairy herds that we saw today, and sure enough, they numbered around 18 to 20. This is quite consistent with the size of dairy herds that a previous host had told us. I have no idea how you can make a living out of the milk from 20 cows, other than receiving heavy government subsidies. The general rate of Norway’s value added tax is 25%, so perhaps the government can offer a lot to farmers.
Just as predicable are house colours. Traditionally Norwegian houses were painted a strong red, yellow, or white. White is now the most popular colour for houses and red for barns. In the old days, the colour that the owners chose depended mostly on the family’s financial situation, geographic location and profession. Certain colours required certain resources, therefore some colours cost more or less depending on the availability and access of the various resources needed to make these paints.
Red: The red colour was the cheapest to produce. It was created by mixing red ochre with cod liver oil (or other vegetable oils or animal oils). As a result, many buildings in farming lands or fishing areas where incomes were lower than average were mostly painted red. This is why so many barns in the country side are traditionally painted red.
Yellow: The yellow colour was a little more expensive than red and was also created by mixing yellow ochre with cod liver oil.
White: White was the most luxurious of colours since it was the most expensive. In the old days the mineral zinc was needed to create white paint which was very expensive.
As a result, if one painted their house white, they were showing their neighbours that they were wealthy. Some wealthier farmers would paint their family home in white but their surrounding barns or sheds in the colour red. There are stories of some families who were concerned about their image living on the west coast of Norway who painted the ocean facing wall of their homes in white and used red for the less important walls. Much like people use cars as a status symbol in society these days, Norwegians used the colour of their homes.
We needed to renew some of our picnic supplies today. As we head further north and the towns become fewer, we will rely more on having something with us to eat for lunch. We stopped at one little town and visited the supermarket. These are typically the size of an Aldi store back home. In little towns the supermarket is also the post office and we bought a stamp to send a postcard back to my elderly Aunty Phyl. It was also time to refuel the car (again). Petrol costs around 18 NOK which equals about $3.10 per litre.
Some villages had beautiful little churches and we made a couple of detours off the road to see them and explore whether there might be other interesting buildings nearby. This one at Maere, was built in the year 1100 and surprisingly, it still has some new graves in its churchyard. Most graves are decorated with colourful flowers and I can only assume that relatives still regularly tend these graves.
As we came closer to tonight’s destination at Rorvik, the land become more mountainous with narrow fjords. We had been travelling along the side of the broad Trondheim Fjord for a lot of the day, but these were back to the style of those further south, although not nearly as steep sided or deep.
We needed to catch a ferry across a fjord to Rorvik and e planned to catch the one that left at 3.30 pm. We managed to reach the ferry terminal just in time to catch the 2.30 pm one and squeezed on as the second last car in the queue. The crossing took 25 minutes and cost about $35.
Rorvik is located in the northwestern part of Norway’s Trøndelag County, approximately 200 kilometres north of the city of Trondheim. This area was settled early, and there are several prehistoric burial mounds in the area. Among the rocky slopes and cliffs on the local islands are many lush lowland fields. Farming and fishing were the traditional ways of life, and they still are. This village is a port of call of the Hurtigruten coastal steamer, and the northbound and southbound ships meet in Rørvik in the evening.
The road into Rorvik crosses a large suspension bridge. Apart from building tunnels, Norwegian engineers are very good at building impressive bridges.
We did make another discovery in this little town – Gulls will nest anywhere!