Kentuckian in Norway, Part Four: All the cool kids live in Trondheim
Before starting this post, I’d like to give a huge shoutout to my friend David at Life In Norway and also the people at Visit MY Trondheim who went out of their way to make my visit to the city an incredibly memorable and enjoyable one. I hope to return the favor, and also to return the city someday soon! Mange takk!
For a Monday afternoon, Bergen’s airport seemed rather packed. After self-checking in with Norwegian and passing through security (not before causing a bit of a snafu with my American can of Old Spice’s Wolverwine body spray), I noticed the gate wasn’t listed on my boarding pass. I asked one of the security guards who found it on the screen for me and told me where I needed to go in his lovely Bergensk accent. I couldn’t get any internet on my phone, so I walked around a little. Bergen’s aiport was small and reminded me of Louisville’s, except way more sleek.
As more people began to arrive to the gate, I noticed that there was a space for kids to play in. I sat in front of a family of four, with the oldest daughter on her smartphone and the younger daughter talking to her Mom. The Dad, who had been watching their little boy playing on the pretend plane, was now holding his son in his lap and kissed him while he wiggled around, ready to return and wreak havoc on the wings. It reminded me of being on the Bergensbanen, where there was a section in the wagon dedicated to children (complete with toys, cartoons and raucousness). In these little moments, I was able to observe how family life seemed to be ingrained in Norwegian society and how much of a priority children seemed to have, almost in an unconscious way. The family also sat next to me on the plane and I had a chance to watch this play out further.
But most of the moments were dedicated to peering out the window. The flight was only an hour and a half long and my eyes were glued to the clouds and soon the landscape in its geological prowress, almost kidnapping in its magnificance. From the window seat, one could easily drift into thinking about how the earth was formed and the violence between natural forces that crafted such sights. Soon we were about to land and the mother, sitting a seat away from me, covered her eyes while her children teased her. My first experience with Norwegian airlines had been a smooth one.
My phone, however, was anything but fault-free. Like in Bergen, I failed to get a network at Trondheim airport (located really in Værnes) and needed to text my friend and blogging buddy David, the person behind Life In Norway who was kind enough to host me during the Trondheim leg of the trip. Thank goodness I followed my second mind and brought my backup Mobal phone. David texted me that I needed to take the airport bus and get off at Torget, which was a couple of stops after Solsiden.
I bought my ticket on board, the sun nearly setting as we took off. Like on the Bergensbanen I switched seats, this time sitting on the right. This was a wise choice; the views proved to be nearly as phenomenal. The waterways seemed to never end. We passed the immensity of the Trondheimsfjorden before it became a game of counting the lakes, hills and mountains. I can’t remember the number of lakes I must have seen, but I will never forget how magestic and misty they were, calmed by the sunset. Taking the E-6 interstate for most of the way, we soon approached Trondheim.
Hei, er denne stoppen Solsiden? I asked several people who were getting their luggage.
Er denne stoppen Solsiden? I repeated. They nodded, and I followed them off.
Whoops. This was the wrong stop! I didn’t realize it until I was at the bus canopy and checked my phone before remembering I needed to be at Torget. I texted David, but thankfully it turned out that he and his partner were only 10 minutes away.
First impressions of Trondheim: BRR! I was freezing! I kept my hands in my pockets while also taking in the first sights of the now third Norwegian city I had been to. I noticed people on bikes that went past me and lots of young people together who I assume must have been studens at NTNU and, without surprise, the locals were as well-dressed as those I had seen in Bergen.
David and Gerry came up from behind me, bundled up accordingly. I gave them both a hug, feeling a little guilty for meeting at the wrong place. After some brief introductions, we decided on food and headed to Egon in Solsiden plaza. Pub food was exactly what I needed, as I ordered a really delicious tex-mex burger. David and I talked a little about how the trip was going so far and plans for the next day and his relatively recent move to Trondheim from Oslo, while Gerry brought up job prospects and his work at the university. Soon we were done and took the bus back to their home.
David and I went back out to explore a little bit more of Trondheim. Still chilly, we took the bus closer to town. During our walk, we spotted the Nidarosdomen, where we walked a little closer to the facade. The stone figures were nearly as tall as I was and stood out among the building’s grandness, lit by the lamps in the square. I would be back to see its glory in the daytime tomorrow morning. We soon made it to Gamle Bybro, with a view of the famous storehouses sitting on Nidelva. It was too dark to see the colorful buildings, but that didn’t stop me from taking photos.
David took me through Bakklandet, one Trondheim’s neighborhoods lying east of the river. It was Sunday night and only a few bikers and locals could be spotted. But it was delightful nonetheless; the cobblestone streets and cute shops and boutiques, all of them nearly side-by-side, seemed to bring out even more of the city’s charm. We managed to find a cozy little bar, tucked below one of the buildings we passed.
David bought me a beer and we found seats facing the patio. Warm and koselig, the place reminded me of a den in one of my friend’s parent’s home. David mentioned that the patio would have been one of the best spots to perch had the weather been warmer. I wanted to check if I could get wifi on my phone, so I asked one of the bartenders.
Unnsyld, har du gratis wifi?
Har du wifi her?
No … sorry.
Hæ is right. Why was she using English? This had never happened at all during the trip, but I attributed it to Trøndersk and dialectical misunderstanding. David I continued, were we talked about future plans, our websites and also Norwegian. We even practiced talking to each other in the language. I needed to take a photo of us from the night, so I asked the same bartender again, in Norwegian again, and she took it, continuing in English. Æsj. The photo turned out nicely though. We got home, with Gerry already tucked in and soon David went to bed and I followed suit.
The next day in Trondheim started before sunrise. We avoided taking the bus this time and I was able to join David on his daily commute, grabbing some breakfast at a nearby store (and also another opportunity to partake in one of my favorite travel activities — taking photos in groceries). The morning proved to be grey but I was delighted, nonetheless, to watch the rest of Trondheim get ready as we did, trekking through some suburban neighborhoods. I took a look at the red and yellow houses, the Posten boxes, and barnehage we passed during our hilly commute. The brown and yellow leaves on the ground were like those in Old Louisville, and it felt somewhat familiar. We eventually made it back to the old bridge and the storehouses, which stood illuminated on the river. The moments matched what I had envisioned from Wikitravel, and didn’t disappoint.
We made our way then to the Visit MY Trondheim office. David, anticipating my arrival, had spoken with someone there who was kind enough to offer a letter allowing free admission to some of the city’s attractions. The gentleman wasn’t there that day and I didn’t get to thank him, but I made sure to say "Tusen takk, jeg setter stor pris på det!" before leaving.
David then took me to his office at DIGS, Trondheim’s first coworking space that is currently expanding. I had a chance to meet his colleagues, including a Canadian girl who I spoke Norwegian with and a Trønder, who seemed perplexed that I was even speaking the language at all, using English as I spoke. The space reminded me of startups in my own hometown, with a pulse that there were some major developments settling. David, who had to work, then sent me off to Nidarosdomen.
The catherdal’s pinnacle can be spotted from nearly any point in central Trondheim. Green and massive, I used it as my compass while walking through Trondheim Torget. The magnificance of the building became clearer as I got closer. The stone figures I had seen yesterday night were even more kinetic in their impressions, with the age of the cathedral showing from its grey-stoned surface. When I walked in, it was apparent I was stepping into a special era in Norwegian history.
I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside, unfortunately. But the sancturary was equally as brilliant as what I had seen outside. It was filled with giant arches that never seemed to end, secured by posts and decorated with lowly-dimmed hanging lights. The stage for the choir had a large cross behind the lecturn and an equally massive one guarding from above. Empy seats in the pulpit, styled simply as if to allow the cathedral to ruminate in its grandeur, filled the floor. Soon a woman began playing an organ and I sat in one of those seats for a few minutes, meditating and peering at the ceiling and wondered about services held centuries before and even now. I walked around the other nooks of the cathedral before departing for the other attractions in the area.
After stepping in the Archibishop’s Palace Museum and exploring the centuries-old history of the grounds and minting, including a large replica in the lowest level, I made it to the west wing, where the crown jewels were held. The farther I made it into the basement, the more the mood became austere. It was so dim and I felt like I was entering a dungeon. But soon I spotted the treasures, sparking in glass cases. I first saw a large ornate golden sword, and then the King and Queen’s sceptres. But when I came upon the King and Queen’s crowns, I was really taken back. Both covered in a compendium of gems, crystals and crosses, the regalness of them was so convicing that I could have bowed then and there. I noticed that they were designed by Swedish blacksmiths in the descriptions and along with the other regalia, made in the 1800s. Beyond the wonder of looking at them, I thought it was also quite generous that the Norwegian monarchy made these items so accesible to the public in this manner, not stored away or placed behind mountains of security.
It was soon mid-afternoon and I headed to Torget to meet up with my Snapchat buddy, Mats, who is also the project leader for Skeive Studenter Trondheim. We met up at Jordbær Pikene, had some coffee and chatted and giggled, especially when Mats tried to teach me how to say this really Trøndersk phrase (which I won’t translate!):
Huk dæ heim, ditt spøkels. Æ pule’itj fer småpeng.
Soon David, who had texted me earlier, found our table and joined us. David and Mats talked a little bit about Trondheim while I snuck in a photo of them. Mats had to head to work and we snapped some selfies (of course) and I gave him a kjempestor hug goodbye. After David finished up a phone call, I took a selfie of us outside in Torget and we decided on our next stop: Rockheim.
I’m not sure I can accurately describe our time there. Rockheim, which is Norway’s national museum of pop and rock music history, isn’t just a museum. It’s an experience, in the literal sense of the word. We checked in with one of the hosts speaking to us in Norwegian the entire time about what we could see on each level. I first noticed a ginormous LCD map of Norway that extended to the fifth floor of the building, touching the ceiling. When we got to the second floor, I saw a large panaroma of Norwegian artists, dated by decade and music videos playing in the background. But — people were standing there, and wiping away the videos with their hands to select a new one! I couldn’t believe it! This interactive exhibit was one we spent the most time at, with me swiping my hand over the 1990s and 2000s until I found my absolute favorite song in Norwegian, John Olav Nilsen og Gjengen's Hull I Himmelen. Even now as I type this, I can’t stop smiling about how fun it really was.
David and I went through the second floor, finding more musical treasures. We discovered a secret room with an arrow painted on the ground for us to enter, which turned out to be a death metal haven complete with empty beer cans, electric guitars and a drum set, and tour posters and Spellemannpriser from the ’90s mounted on the wall. We continued around to find a portal for hits for the 1950s with another interactive screen that could be controlled by walking past it; next to this was a room decked out with a shiny red cadillac. I took a photo of one of the classic girl’s magazines (that anyone could have just taken, a credit to the museum’s honor system). David and I then found a little recording studio, where we shuffled with some of the melodies, I pretended to rap and we came up with our very own hit song. The playfulness was neverending, and we found even more rooms with instruments set up for us to test our skills and a DJ set that David mixed on. At the end of the tour when we were in the gift shop, David mentioned how cool it would have been to work there. Even with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, I have yet to find any place that can compare to the installations we took part in. According to David, it wasn’t really a museum, considering everything visitors get to do. After we left, I nearly wanted to applaud Norway for creating such an innovative and truly entertaining establishment. Unequivocally, if you find yourself in Trondheim, I can’t recommend taking a stop at Rockheim enough — the little kid inside will thank you!
It had begun to drizzle a bit and we headed to Rema 1000 to grab some dinner. More picture taking took place on my end, while David pointed out the subpar quality of some Norwegian produce. Knowing now that the name refers to a selection of 1,000 items, I took photos of some unique items, including a tube of shrimp-flavored cheese. David warned me rightly, and I didn’t buy it.
After dinner and some, we had another fun highlight from the trip — a one-on-one interview! The ultimate culmination of a meeting of the minds between bloggers, I was so thrilled! David had brainstormed some great questions earlier that made me ponder back to when I first started this linguistic journey four years ago. You can read the full interview here on the Life in Norway site, but it was a joy to talk about my blog and learning Norwegian in detail, an opportunity I don’t always have the chance to do. Everytime I read that interview, I can’t help but squirm in my seat from delight.
The next morning came, and my time in Trondheim had wrapped up. David took me to the train station, the sun only approaching dawn. It was Wednesday but the crowds came shortly after, some with suitcases nearly as large as my 50-pounder. We walked to the platform and I hugged David and thanked him as much as I could with my words, although I will continue to be overcome with appreciation for all he did with hosting me and showing me the pearls of Trondheim. I waved him goodbye, waiting for the other people to board. I looked back at the city behind me, now lit by the sky’s mural of blue and purple. I ready for the next day and the remainder of my trip in Oslo.
Click further to David’s website Life In Norway and also Visit MY Trondheim for more information about the city, attractions and things to do while in Norway.