Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NO - Trondheim

June 28                 Tuesday                               Norway                                Trondheim                         

The bus from Røros to Trondheim was rather noneventful… the day was dreary and I slept through large portions of the drive.  The landscape this far east of the mountains was rather bland: rolling hills at best.  I did appreciate the farmhomes, though.  I’d come to find that many of the farm structures throughout Norway are painted in a dark red – I believe traditionally it was ox blood, but I’d wager they use more modern paints these days.  Alongside the barns are often rather modern but still traditionally-styled farmhouses; they were quite beautiful.  The rest of the developed areas, however, are rarely too endearing… the small towns are often conglomerations of modern buildings; the large towns are often larger conglomerations of modern buildings.  The exceptions are the bryggen areas; the historic working-class wooden buildings preserved in a couple cities.

I was staying in the P-Hotel, and I was quite fortunate in that the bus just happened to have a bus stop only a block away.  Granted, the hotel’s location is excellent considering that even without that bus stop: the train/bus station is only a couple more blocks away; and the hotel is right within the city center.  Not just that, but as far as hotels go: it’s comparatively cheap… and the room I got was large and gave me a queen bed.  Add in that you get breakfast hung on your door knob the following morning – great considering I’m rarely awake for the official breakfast time at other places – and I was dearly impressed by the quality & price of the P-Hotel chain.

The reception suggested I grab food at a place called Graffi.  I got a garlic burger and was quite surprised… it was actually an American-style burger with an amazing garlic sauce.  The fries weren’t too shabby, either.

Walking up through the pedestrian area, I came upon a group of buskers in Native American garb performing traditional tunes.  It always cracks me up to see them in Europe – in this trip I’d come to see them in Copenhagen, Trondheim, and Bergen – and yet I can’t recall ever seeing them back in North America.  You know; where they come from.  This only reinforces my general theory that they’re not entirely genuine… first, beneath the costumes & makeup they more often-than-not look far more Asian to me than Native American.  While both tend to have high cheekbones and share Mongolian roots, Native Americans tend to have a squarer face; whereas Asians tend to be rounder.  Next: I highly highly doubt they are actually playing the music… this was especially reinforced by my experience a couple days from now, in Bergen, where the group wasn’t even playing half the time you heard the instrument… and when they started playing: you didn’t hear anything change in the sound.  Also half the time their apparent drumming was off-beat from the music.  So yeah: I think these groups are usually just rip-offs… good for only some relaxing New Age tunes if you want to sit nearby and eat.

There was some street market going on, and from some posters and handouts I’d gathered it was a multi-day affair.  Most of the stalls were tourist trinkets, t-shirts, and sausages, but I did happen across a stand of armaments.  I saw a coat of chain mail and expected the worst: masses of replicas and fake crap intended to rob clueless tourists of their money.  What I found was actually the opposite: about half were medieval replicas, but the weapons were mostly full-tare… that is: real weapons that you could use to hack somebody apart, if you so desired.  Even the modern guns I’d thought were just airsoft until I picked one up and found it was actually a fully functional firearm.  Then a couple 20th century blades caught my eye… an SS ceremonial sword, an SS dagger, an SA dagger, and a Chinese bayonet.  Now I have a small obsession with both hand-to-hand combat weapons and also World War II… I bought up all but the SS dagger.  I figured the sword served that niche well enough & the SA dagger was still related and also in better condition.  Plus the SA dagger carried a more legible manufacturer’s mark & date (1938).  Of course, this now meant I had to carry these through the rest of my trip & then figure out how to get them back across the ocean…

Going back to my earlier mention of bryggen: thanks to Trondheim for finally making Norway feel like Norway.  That is: the Norway I’d always envisioned… colorful wooden buildings right up along the shoreline.  Sure enough, Trondheim’s riverfront features rows of exactly that on each side: precisely the photogenic stretch I’d been pining for after my let-downs in the pair of small towns from the last couple days & even Oslo, the latter quite lacking in buildings that really define Norway.

Oh, a side-note… for some reason I’ve had Disney songs stuck in my head as I walk around.  Except every single song keeps turning into “Prince Ali” from Aladdin.

On the other side of the river is the Trampe.  That’s not some half-hearted attempt to be more classy about deriding a woman; it’s a bicycle lift for ascending a steep hill.  I took lots and lots of photos and then some more… but not one person used it.  Lots of people huffed directly up the hill under their own power; most taking a break at the top and possibly wondering why they didn’t try the lift or perhaps absorbing their pride in conquering a hill without need of the lift.

At the summit of the hill is Kristiansten Fort, offering great views over the city.  The main building didn’t seem to be open at this point nor on my visit two days from now, so I’m guessing it’s not accessible to tourists.  But the rest of the fortress was free for roaming about the walls.  The only open building was a café.  I smiled at the sight of the cutesy ice cream ad standing immediately in front of a row of artillery… it was a great contrast.

One nook has a memorial to resistance fighters who were executed against the wall… it was eerie to turn with your back toward the wall, looking at the very last sight of those who died there; or heading up the slope to look back at the wall as one of those who took those lives.

It was about this time when I had to rush back to my hotel to tend to laundry.  The lack of clothes had been a growing issue, with me now rewearing shirts for a third time (I’m OK with rewearing a 2nd time when backpacking; but 3 times crosses over the stench line).  The deal was that the laundry room – conveniently located just steps from my hotel room – closes at 8pm, so I was aiming to be back at 6pm to make sure I could wash and dry in time.  I made it back at 6:30, but that didn’t matter as an exasperated receptionist shared that she’d been trying to find the key, but was coming up empty-handed.  We went up to the laundry room and noticed that it sounded like something was running in there… but we never did sort out who was running the machines or where the key was.

She ended up letting me use a washer down in their basement, but I had to hang everything to dry up in my room.  I had just enough hangable space to store all my clothes, so it actually worked out quite well.  This laundering would also be enough to carry me through the rest of the trip.  Of course, I wanted to get the most out of a laundry load as I could: so as I followed her down to the basement I was clad only in my pajama pants and my jacket.  The sole button on my pajama pants’ fly is not a perfect device, as I took heed of whilst quickly descending the stairs… I slowed my pace the rest of that descent.  I shared that I’d be in for the night on account of no clothes & unzipped my jacket a bit as testament… I never saw a woman’s face become so visibly enamored before; so that was… interesting.  Except despite being the sole two folk in the basement & my being a click away from nudity: my mind was on my rather unsanitary condition & need of clean clothes; not on trying to seduce a hotel staffmember à la some late-night Cinemax flick.

So my lack of clothes kept me in for the night.  Combined with no need to get up early & a dearth of planning to do for the next few days: I was up quite late into the evening… late enough to watch as the bars closed & some dude decided to pee right outside my window.  I was raised several stories up and had a lovely view as he stood in the middle of an empty parking space & let loose, except he wasn’t close to any of the adjacent cars… he was just sort of right in the middle & slightly oriented toward the sidewalk.  So when a pair of women passed by one of the adjacent cars: they were greeted with fat guy dong.  That was a fun shriek, immediately followed by a pair of giggling female voices… except in the guy’s inebriated state he seemed totally indifferent; just wobbling about as much as he did before the flashing surprise.  Like any good person: I snapped a couple photos… even used the flash a few times just to see if he’d react.  Nope.

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