Friday, August 20, 2010

Troheim, Norway

Trondheim was the first capital of Norway with gothic cathedral. What is it doing here? I associated this type of construction mostly with the territories that were once the part of the Roman Empire; but the Romans never conquered the Nordic countries. The Nidaros Cathedral construction started back in 1070 and in the Middle Ages, was the northen most center of pilgrimage, rated in importance as equal to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Being near a Cathedral on a Saturday, is hard to miss a traditional wedding parties. Here we have a young couple set against the wall being shot by a squad, luckily by using cameras.

And what is a city without a Coat of Arms? Just a manhole without a cover, waiting for people to stumble into it. It dates back to the 13th century and included the two most important characters of the time, the Bishop and the King. The Bishop at the cathedral looking towards the King at the right in his castle, holding the scales of justice. They seem to be standing over the bridge beneath which there are 3 heads floating in the water awaiting for the dictates of the potentates above.

Just across from the front of the cathedral, there is a park with some interesting scultures that are a challenge to interpret. The first one looks as a Maya sculpture with two seating man at the base topped by a golden mask. Something that I would expect to find in Chapultepec Park in Mexico City.
The other, that of a man with what look like cacao pods growing out of the body. The larger one ends in a basket with a head within. Those long cold and dark winters provide the Nordic artists with plenty of hallucinations to create strange works of arts.

Trondheim is a seaport where the Nidelva River drains into the ocean. Its banks are covered with rows old storage warehouses resembling those in Amsterdam, with the difference that here they are wooden and built on stilts.

Another similarity with the Dutch city is the abundance of bicycles (I found one with the color stripes of a bumble bee) and tulips. Tronheim was a welcome surprise and pleasant city to visit.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hellesylt to Geirangerfjord, Norway

Hellesylt, Norway, a very small town that is overwhelmed by the size of the waterfall that feeds into the Sunnylvsfjord. It was the departure point for a drive to Geirangerfjord.

First stop down the road was an old stone bridge built in the late 1700’s by the King to expedite the mail deliveries, it is not used for road traffic currently. There were other similar bridges from the same era but smaller along this road that follows the shores of Lake Hornisdal that at 514 meters is considered the deepest in Europe.

There nice landscapes along this road with farming communities and at Grodas, I found a Best Western Hotel. This one was different since it has an attractive architecture not typical for this type of accommodations.

Down the road, I arrived at the village of Stryn, with a bridge across the river where the shore covered with very colorful houses are located as seen below.

Stryn is definitely a tourist town, most other villages shops were closed on Sunday, but not here. Everything was available such sheep skins, smoked salmon and a variety of honeys. And the parking lots were full of buses, as the one pictured below, I find buses in Europe most fascinating due to their decorations.

We had a stop at the Jostedalsbreen Nasjonalparksenter; let me count: two words and 32 letters. It was by the side of the lake with a stream to the side. The main building has displays of the local fauna, flora and geological formations. It has a well kept garden with trees and shrubs in full bloom when I was there in June. An enjoyable place with no “entrance fees.”

Soon after, the road started climbing up the mountains covered with snow. This is a serious road, with 180 degrees turns and at times, the road is surfaced with gravel with snow banks to the side serving as protective barriers (illusion) to prevent vehicles from falling into the valley below. The thrill was when a bus was coming in the opposite direction leaving hardly any space to pass, having to squeeze over the snow banks hoping that they would hold.

This road climbs 5,000 feet to the top of Mount Dalsnibba, offering spectacular views of Geirangerfjord. It seems to be a very popular location and several families were having picnics; of course you must be Norwegian, it was extremely cold and windy to lid a fire, cold smoked salmon with hot chocolate will do.

Looking down, the winding and twisting road that brought me here, is waiting for the return trip. A worthwhile drive but not for the faint at heart.