For the last two days we have been ambling north from the fishing village on the Atlantic Coast Road to Trondheim.
The speed limit in Norway (on ordinary roads) is 80 kmh and down to 50 kmh through the towns. A lot of narrow rural roads have a speed limit of 60kmh. Our driving has been unhurried and very comfortable.
Yesterday, we took the scenic route along the coast for some of the way, coming across many small bays and little harbours. For the later part of the day, we travelled through hills and forests. It is getting warmer with the temperature today reaching 23C.
At Kvernes, we came across another stave church. This one was also first built in the 1300’s. Like others, where you sat was dependent on your social standing. Men always sat on the right side (south) as it was the warm side of the church. Women and children sat on the left side. The ‘lady of the manor’ had her own individual entrance and seat at the front. The poor sat upstairs and if you were sick, you stood out in the nave of the church and looked through some knot holes in the timber wall. Things are a lot different now – an old joke about public toilets is that the women’s toilet is invariably on the right hand side of the building and the men’s toilets are on the left. That’s goes with most married men’s notion of women nowadays being invariably right!
We stopped at a cafe in the little village of Aure for lunch and found another delicious set of open sandwiches from which to choose. Our only difficulty was that their credit card machine didn’t recognise either of my cards, so we had to pay in cash. We had managed to travel al the way around Iceland without any need for cash at all and this is the fist time I needed to find real money on this trip as well. It was a good thing that I had been to the bank the other day and made a withdrawal from the ATM.
We reached last night’s destination at Orkanger by mid afternoon. Our stay was at the Bårdshaug Herregård Hotel. This is an historic manor house that was the home of the entrepreneur and man of the world Christian Thams – architect, minister, landowner and consul.
The foundation of Thams’ family fortune was the Örkedals Mining Company which his grandfather had started in 1867. He acquired another mine in 1896 and effectively dominated all the mines in the region. The mine was however flooded, and in order to extract the pyrite, the mine had to be pumped dry. This was done by constructing a pipeline from a nearby lake to transport water to a power station inside the mine. The generator was mounted on a timber raft and as the water was pumped out of the mine, the raft sank with the sinking water, and in this way the mine was emptied of water in just two years. He then became active in developing hydro-electricity and became very wealthy.
I’m not sure what the original house is now used for because it is surrounded by modern 1980’s hotel buildings – one of which we stayed in. There was a wedding in progress when we arrived and it felt somewhat unusual to check in while surrounded by well dressed wedding guests who also filled the lobby / lounge while having their pre-function drinks.
Today, we drove a short distance to Trondheim, the third largest city in Norway after Oslo and Bergen. We arrived here well before lunch so our plan was to drop the car at the hotel car park, put our bags in the baggage room and then go and explore the city until our room was ready at 3.00 pm.
Trondheim has a population of 194,000 and the first settlement here began in 997 with its name being given by the Norwegian King of the time (King Olav Tryggvason). It served as the capital of Norway during the Viking Age until 1217. From 1152 to 1537, the city was the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nidaros; since then, it has remained the seat of the Lutheran Diocese of Nidaros and the Nidaros Cathedral.
The city has experienced several major fires. Since much of the city was made of wooden buildings, many of the fires caused severe damage. Great fires ravaged periodically from 1598 through to 1861. A fire in 1651 destroyed 90% of all buildings within the city limits. The area became Swedish territory for a brief period, but was reconquered 10 months later and confirmed by the Treaty of Copenhagen on 27 May 1660.
During the Second World War, Trondheim was occupied by Nazi Germany from 9 April 1940, the first day of the invasion of Norway, until the end of the war in Europe, 8 May 1945. The German invasion force consisted of the German cruiser Admiral Hipper, 4 destroyers and 1700 Austrian Mountain troops. The city and its citizens were subject to harsh treatment by the occupying powers, including imposition of martial law in October 1942.
The Nidelva flows through Trondheim and part of the old town consists of a string of old storehouses flanking both sides of the river.
To me, Trondheim seems to be a scenic unhurried city. There is a major renewal program happening in the old market square. It looks a bit like a bomb site as it is being dug up and renovated. Just near the market square is Stiftsgården the royal residence in Trondheim. It has 140 rooms constituting 4000 m² and is the largest wooden building in Northern Europe. It has been used by royalty and their guests since 1800.
Just as we finally, checked in, we found that the BBC was broadcasting the 100th commemoration service of the Battle of Amiens. It was being held in the enormous cathedral in that city. The service was very moving with Australian, British and Canadian officers reading excerpts from various war diaries of the day. The Australians part in this battle was planned by General Sir John Monash. He had earlier become the first commander to successfully combine infantry, artillery, air power and armour into a planned attack. Hs plan was that the action to push forward from Villers Brettoneux to Harbonniers should last 90 minutes and in fact it was all over in 93 minutes. This action pushed the Germans back a distance of 8 miles and turned the course of the war. I’m looking forward to taking my grand daughters there in December.