Sunday, September 26, 2010
Pulling into the train station Friday afternoon I felt I saw a ghost. No, not of a person but of a city. Trondheim harbor reminded me so much of home. The islands in the bay bared an uncanny resemblance to Lummi and Orcas, the city arrayed picturesquely on the hillside resembling South Hill. I understand how all those Norwegian immigrants came to settle in the PNW as it reminded them of home.
Mike Naylor was kind enough to collect us at the train station and show us some of the city sites. At his home we were treated to a homemade dinner Pam cooked up: a traditional Trondheim soup of lamb, potatoes and carrots. The Naylors’ moved to Trondheim 3 years ago from Bellingham (you can see their blog at http://naylors-in-norway.blogspot.com/). They are a warm and open family that made us at ease in there home immediately. We had never met them, but felt an easy familiarity that comes from a shared experience of moving abroad. Their kids (Maggie age 13, Peter age 10, and Anna age 7) attend an international school in Trondheim, where Pam works, and Mike works for NTNU (Norwegian Technical National University , I think). They haven’t decided whether or not they are staying forever, but love Trondheim and living in Norway.
Saturday Mike walked with us to downtown (about 20 minutes), past captivating brightly painted wharfs lining the river Nid (Nidelva). We left him to work at an outdoor research fair (forskningsdagene) organized by the University, and set off for Nidarosdomen (Nidoras Cathedral). The largest medieval building in Scandinavia, it was built in honor of Olav Haraldsson . Born in 995 he was a viking mercenary who fought for the English King Ethelred and converted to Christianity. With the help of his English friends he invaded Norway in 1015, and brought the fervor of a convert back to his native land. He ordered all pagan worship sites desecrated and executions of anyone who would not convert. He was forced into exile in 1028, and tried to regain power two years later only to be killed in battle. The sited of his burial on the river Nid became known for miracles and his body was exhumed and was not decayed !! The bishop declared him a saint, and had his body was placed in a silver casket. (We have to rely on the story of the early church believers who needed a saint to consolidate their power). The cathedral, which took approximately 100 years to complete, was finished in 1152. By the way, the Danes melted down his casket for coinage in the 1537. It is awe inspiring and timeless, with the scent of candles and a deep quiet. The outside is adorned with many fantastic gargoyles posturing absurdly (sometimes obscenely) around the edge of the roof.
From there we walked to a farmers market that had incredible organic food, and spent time sitting lazily in the sun enjoying the unseasonably warm late September sun. Norwegians really know how to take advantage of good weather, people were out walking, swimming (a tad cold for that..) beach combing, and just generally happy because the weather was fantastic.
This city is inviting and relaxed, and we will hopefully be visiting it again, as there is much more to do and explore .