Weekend getaway: Sør-Trøndelag, Norway

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fter three plane rides, an 8-hour boat ride, half day in the car and a series of meetings from one Norwegian island to the other, I was glad to finally wrap up my work week. Our last meeting in Hitra was shorter than expected and after a cosy, Norwegian lunch of crisp bread, cheese, red beet spread and salmon together with our newest clients, we headed to our hotel in Melandsjøen. According to them, Dolmsundet is the best in the island but as soon as my back touched the bed, I was off to dreamland. Two nights with very little sleep and continuous travel took a toll on me. All I wanted was my sleep despite the beautiful nature calling outside.

Friday

It was already 4pm when I woke up, just enough time for a quick ride to another small island, Titran, another recommendation from our client. The receptionist also told us to visit Stabben Fort, apparently an old German fort used during the World War II.

We hopped on the car and and drove through zigzagging roads flanked by the most amazing views of the rustic Western Norway. Being the nature-obsessed snap shooter, we stopped several times so I could take photos – of this little forest with a raging river running in the middle, of that tiny fishing village with the view of the Sletringen lighthouse, a little roadside church and the rugged terrain that make this part of Norway different that the postcard image of Bergen and Oslo.

I wanted to photograph them all but I also wanted to see the sunset at Stabben Fort. In less than an hour, the sun started setting so we hurried to catch the sunset. Despite arriving at Titran when the sun was already behind the clouds, the light was still beautiful.

It was raining and it was freezing cold. The sky was painted in different hues of red, dark clouds were scattered across it, hiding the sinking ball, the Atlantic Ocean was crashing its waves on the huge boulders of rock in the coastline and colorful Norwegian houses dotting the horizon. I snapped all the photos that I could but they were a pathetic representation of the beauty of Titran during sunset. So I put my phone away after futile attempts to make the perfect photo.

In those short 20 minutes that I was present in the landscape before me, uninterrupted by technology, freezing from the wind that the Atlantic Ocean was slapping me, I saw how life could be so incredibly simple yet unbelievably tranquil. I look out as far as I could, the ocean seemingly endless from where I was standing on top of the Stabben Fort. I saw fishing boats in the horizon probably coming home to a hearty meal of warm soup and warm hugs. I took a deep breath, filling my lungs with clean, salty air (which is a luxury considering where I live) wishing that I could afford to live in this paradise. Or holiday here often.

“I wouldn’t mind living here,” I told my colleague.

“Really? Nothing grows here because of the wind. You couldn’t even have a garden,” he replied.

“It’s ok. I don’t have a green thumb anyway.”

“Sure. But don’t you think you’d be blown away by the wind?”

He has a point. The wind blows hard in this part of Hitra because of its proximity to the open sea. And it is always very cold. Besides, would my life be complete without trees?

When it got dark night fell and it started raining harder, we headed back to the hotel. My stomach was growling and I am getting soaked. I did not bring a coat.

Saturday

I couldn’t remember sleeping so well in a hotel. Normally I could only manage three hours because I am dead afraid of ghosts and I’d spend the whole evening imagining all the dreadful things that they’ll do to me. I woke up fresh and rested and though my foot was still hurting, I decided to go for a run.

As usual, I didn’t have a planned route nor any idea of where I was going. The receptionist told me to jog all the way to the Dolmsundet Marine. I followed the dirt road at the back of the hotel, leading to the marina but I got lost and ended up in a dead end so I circled back and followed the highway. When I reached the hotel again, I crossed the road to the nearby forest and followed a foot path.

It was still early and the morning light seeping through the trees creates a misty and mysterious atmosphere. Suddenly a young elk cut through my path, sprinting towards the bushy part of the forest. It was gone before I could whip my phone out. But it left me a magical memory of Hitra, together with its rainbows and dramatic sunsets. And whenever I’m preparing shipments for Titran and Sletringen, I could look back to the places they were named after and tell myself, I’ve been there.

I never found the marina but I met a shepherd and his flock and trespassed somebody’s garden to photograph a cute, red house. After a lazy brunch at the hotel, we left for Trondheim.

All the time in the car, I was thinking of coming back here for a long week of just driving up and down the coastlines or go running. This was in September so my plans were more like wishful thinking because somehow I’ve given up on getting on passing my exam for yet another year. But despite the somber prospect of my driver’s license, the unending scenery of Norway’s nature pacified my doubts.

We reached Trondheim just after lunchtime. After dropping our bags at the lovely home of Marj Britt in Kristiansfeld, which I booked through AirBnB, we headed out to eat. I was so famished that I told my colleague, we will eat in the first restaurant that we’ll see.

Baklandet Skydsstation was the first restaurant that we saw because it is conveniently located at the beginning of the street. When we walked inside the crowdy, tiny eating joint, we didn’t have any idea that this was what National Geographic Traveller’s Andrew Evan’s called the best cafe in 2012. Of course I ordered the bacalao soup and a couple of aquavit as recommended by my Norwegian colleague. But let me write about that in another post.

I know, Trondheim was one of the most beautiful cities in Norway but after lunch, I just didn’t have enough energy to walk around. We headed back to the apartment and I slept until dinner time.

Sunday

Dinner was uneventful but I woke up early and went for another run. Trondheim was still sleeping so I had all the nice views to myself. I didn’t know where to go so I followed the Nidelva River which was probably the best decision I’ve made that day. It led me to the colorful wooden houses that represent the touristy face of Trondheim then through small alleyways around the city, discovering pretty gardens tucked away between wooden houses.

I went back to the apartment after an hour for a quick breakfast and to pack my luggage. Before we left the city, we drove to Kristiansten Fortress to see the city from a view point. There were already a lot of runners by this time and many of them are coming up to the fort. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t find this place earlier. Driving down, we passed by many mountain bikers as well. It’s amazing to see how sportive the locals are. You’d see bikers all across town, going to the supermarkets to do their groceries or just on their way to meet up with friends. It seems like there is a very young population in Trondheim. Again, I imagined living here too.

We drove to the airport just before lunchtime.

Is there any ugly place in Western Norway? Because there’s beauty wherever I look, in every corner, whether it is a hidden cafe, a lonely graveyard or a random slope where cows graze. Even the brown, bald mountains looked incredibly breathtaking. On the way to Trondheim, we’ve passed fjords, rocky mountains with waterfalls cascading from its top, tranquil rivers, noisy brooks, rows and rows of colorful houses and well, many tunnels. Too many for my liking.

That afternoon I left for the Netherlands with the illusion that the world could be a beautiful place even when the sun doesn’t shine (It was raining the whole weekend).

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